Santosha literally means contentment.
Among all the Niyamas, this was the one that really struck me and I was like: Wow, this is so true and it’s relevant to me.
“Santosha” is a state whereby one is in a state of neutrality – it is neither happiness nor sadness – and it is in this state where one really enjoys pure joy. Well, what’s this state of neutrality? To be honest, I was a little confused by it at first. But, in actual fact, it basically means that we do not base our contentment on anything else but our own consciousness and mind.
All our lives, we – humans – often seek pleasure from objects, events, people and other external stimuli that are created from our own thoughts. For example, in this world that we live in – where social media seems to be ubiquitous; everyone has access to it everywhere we go – we often envy what others have and start generating internal thoughts of what we should have that will make us happy. In doing so, we often miss out on the things that might be closer to us which might provide us the same amount of happiness. In short, we should not try to keep wanting more and more as the cycle is never-ending.
So if we just accept where/what we are, we will never move forward? Well, there’s a thin line between understanding what I’ve said above and having goals/objectives. If you have a goal/objective, you aim to work towards it and formulate plans to help you achieve what you want to achieve. But if you are just purely envious of what others have and build this concept of “happiness” around these thoughts that you have generated, that’s gonna be unsettling for your mind eventually. In time, when our mind is unsettled, it’s just gonna clog up our mind like a blocked sewage system with unnecessary thoughts. When that happens, it’s a matter of time when the system is gonna break down and all hell’s gonna break loose.
Like any yoga philosophy, a simple word like “Santosha” can go on forever and ever and if I were to keep writing it, I think I will lose myself halfway through and not complete this post (channeling my “Satya” here. LOL).
My interpretation of it is simple, by practising “Santosha”, one learns to be contented with what one has and accept what has and already happened. We can never change the past but we can carve our own futures. Next time, if someone were to come to you and tell you their problems, don’t tell them things like: “You should have done this leh.”/”Why you like that one, I already tell you liao. See lah, don’t listen.” If you got nothing better to say, keep quiet. Learn to reserve your judgement – and this not only applies to others, but judgement for oneself as well. Yes, we can gain happiness probably from momentary material pleasures in life (e.g. a good meal, buying a new bag) but ultimately, if we don’t learn to settle and appreciate what we already have, we will go down a vicious cycle of always wanting more.
Only when we have a clear state of mind, be thankful for what we have, for who we are and be thankful for this life that we are leading, then we can safely say that we are practising Santosha.