I’ve been watching my garden grow and change over the last few months and as I watched the butterflies and bees enjoying the flowers this weekend it reminded me of the yoga philosophy of ‘Santosha’. Santosha is about contentment. It comes from the yoga philosophy Niyama, the second pedal or limb, that explores our self-discipline and relationship with our inner mind. It is also a reflection of how yoga can help us to develop a very real sense of peace, stillness and inner contentment. This feels apt when there is so much that is changing in the world, from day to day at times! Like the garden, the world we live in is never static and changes are continually happening. Sometimes it’s easy to see the beauty in changes but at other times it definitely feels more challenging.
There are times when the demands of modern living and the constant changes we are experiencing, particularly over the last 6 months can feel exhausting and we can start to experience low energy levels, feelings of frustration and, particularly at the moment isolated or disconnected.
A regular yoga practice can help to rebalance some of these feelings so that we start to feel more balanced in all ways: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The time spent on the yoga mat can be a place of calm where we become aware of the interconnection between mind, body and breath and where we can feel the strength and flexibility of our bodies. This sense of calm and strength can help us to grow and to navigate the changes that surround us.
Santosha means being happy with what we have rather than being unhappy about what we don't have. I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy as it does require a willingness to enjoy exactly what each day brings, whether that is a lot or a little.
As I was thinking about this in the garden this weekend I was reminded of Julie Andrews singing during a bad storm in the Sound of Music, “When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember my favourite things, and then I don’t feel so bad!...Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens...cream coloured ponies and crisp apple strudels…wild geese that fly with a moon on their wings…silver white winters that melt into spring, these are a few of my favourite things!” I don’t know about you, but this always makes me smile as well as being such a wonderful reminder that we can find happiness in the little things, despite all the changes around us. However good or bad a situation is now, it will change. That’s the one thing we can count on.
So, how can we continue to maintain self-love and find the beauty in things even when the changes feel unbearable? Some thoughts that you might want to consider are:
- Make time for yourself each day to focus on the beauty in nature; get up early one morning to watch the sunrise, walk barefoot in the grass, listen to the birds or do some yoga, whatever works best for you.
- Listen to some uplifting music
- Play with your children allowing yourself to be less restrained as you play with them and to see the world from their eyes for a while. Children tend to have a sense of wonder about the world which you can share
- Take time out to spend some time by a river or the sea, watching it and listening to it.
- The next time you have a drink of coffee or tea, completely take in the smell and the flavour of it.
The amount of beauty we can experience in life is related to how intimate we are with life. Taking some time to reconnect; to ourselves, to others and to the world around us re-connects us and it does become easier to see the raindrops on roses and that there can be beauty in, or despite, the changes.
So, from me to you, I hope you find Santosha this week.