I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! Tis the season to celebrate with loved ones and to reflect on what we are grateful for. However, I believe this is a beautiful practice that deserves a little more attention than just at Thanksgiving.
Santosha---one of the niyamas, the 2nd limb of the 8 Limbs of Yoga---translates to contentment. The niyamas are a set of internal disciplines that help us achieve a healthy body, mind and soul. (Click here to learn about all 5 of the internal disciplines.) Santosha focuses on cultivating contentment. Where do you feel contentment in your life? This niyama invites you to truly know that what you have, are and feel is already good enough and asks that you to be grateful for your life the way it is right now.
But feeling content and happy doesn’t always come naturally to all of us. It doesn’t for me anyway! I realized that it’s important to develop specific practices to help reconnect us to this feeling of contentment---with what is. So, I’ve put together a sampling of ways you can practice santosha on a regular basis. Just like we have a consistent exercise or asana practice, to reap the benefits it helps to practice santosha regularly. I hope these practices help you to feel content with yourself and your life.
Guide Your Thoughts to Goodness
Santosha encourages us to have a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity. Our thoughts create our actions, therefore, if we focus our thoughts on positive things we attract positive outcomes, experiences, actions. This takes consistent practice! Believe me, it’s taken me years of constantly redirecting my thoughts and flipping my perspective. I’ve developed several little tricks to keep me on the right track. They include:
Using Mantras - My favorite is “energy flows where your attention goes.” But I also like: “I learn through love” and “let your desire for feeling good be your guide.” I will write the mantra of the week on my weekly planner that is front and center on my desk. It’s a great reminder throughout the day. I also repeat the mantra a few times at the beginning of my morning meditation. Plus, it is especially helpful to repeat the mantra if I start feeling stressed or grumpy during the day!
Making Lists of What I’m Grateful For – This is so easy to do and really helps me change my attitude---fast! When I catch myself in a negative thought pattern I rattle off 3-5 things that I’m grateful for. Today my list consisted of 1) my health, 2) my amazing husband and 3) my adorable cats. It amazes me how this totally breaks the negative spiral and resets my mindset instantly. I highly recommend it when you need a quick fix!
Maintain Mindful Self Care Routines
Just like you plan out your exercise time during the week (or am I the only organized geek out there), schedule time for self-care practices. Sunday mornings are perfect for me to have a little “me” time. After my morning spin class I typically have the rest of the morning to myself. My ritual is to meditate for 20 minutes, then do WHATEVER I WANT. When my mind is fresh from a meditation sit, ideas for self-care naturally pop into my head. Some days I read a good book, garden, take a long bath or take a restorative yoga class. Every day is different. The goal is simply to enjoy my time alone. Here are a few guidelines to use during your self-care routine:
Move a little slower and more mindfully. Don’t rush or just go through the motions. Instead, really savor each moment.
Breathe and feel. Similarly to when you are in a yoga pose and the teacher asks you to just breathe and feel into the pose. No need to make anything of it, or create a story around what you feel, just breathe and feel.
Be present. Focus on the now. Let the rest of the day fade away. Give yourself the gift of just being with you!
I hope I’ve inspired you to make quality time for yourself and offered some valuable ideas to help you feel contentment in your life as it is today!