By Skye Adams
You thought I was going to say “giving,” didn’t you? Well, this month is certainly about giving, and more importantly, gratitude, but I am more interested in the bigger picture, that having a grateful heart leads to contentment.
We qualify a lot of things in our culture. Something is good or bad, a success or a failure. But what if we could just be grateful for what is? What if we embraced it all—the good with the bad? There is an unburdening and freedom that come with this kind of acceptance.
Many of us even qualify our yoga practice. Maybe yesterday you jumped back into chaturanga from bakasana, and today you can’t balance for even a breath in ardha chandrasana. Your yoga practice is different every day because your body, the weather, or your state of mind is different each day. But at least you got on your mat.
When we are grateful for everything, contentment is possible, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s hard to be grateful for arguments, tragedy, or pain. But what if living in the moment during those times of struggle allowed us to better appreciate the gifts life also brings?
In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras contentment, or “santosha,” falls under the “niyamas,” ethical observances or practices, which means contentment is a practice, just like any other aspect of yoga. Rather than an ultimate goal or a state of being, contentment is something to be learned, cultivated, and rehearsed. It is something we have to work at.
So how do we practice contentment? By being grateful for what we already have, by practicing loving kindness toward ourselves and others, and by embracing a spirit of generosity. And what better time to begin this practice than the holidays?