Santosha: the link between living simply and being happy

Author: Jackieb / Date: 01-03-2015 / Tag: Full Circle Yoga, Longmont CO, Drisana Lewis /

“santosad anuttamah sukha-labhah  /  Contentment results in happiness”  -PYS 11.42

A few years ago, I spent some time on the West Coast of Vancouver Island with my husband. Inspired by the beauty of the region we decided to take a boat to a pronounced conical island where we could hike through temperate rainforest and arrive at a magnificent view of the entire broken island chain. Upon arrival, we noticed the beach was speckled with little scraps of plastic and old plastic bags. I was surprised to see so much trash as the island is uninhabited by humans and not often visited due to its remote location. I was reminded of this when I later read an article about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a gyre of predominately plastic debris in the central North Pacific Ocean that some estimate extends over an area twice the size of Texas. For me, it was a stark example of the consequence of over consumption.

 

The Sanskrit word santosha means contentment and refers to a deep feeling of satisfaction and equanimity with everything as it is right now. One powerful way to build contentment is through the practice of aparigraha; becoming selfless and not taking more than what one needs. We often fear that we won’t have enough or be enough and so we cling to things outside of ourselves thinking they will make us feel better, whether that is a job or stylish clothing or a relationship. We often think that if we can just get that one thing, then we will be happy. Once we obtain that thing we may experience some happiness, but it’s fleeting and perpetuates a cycle of believing that our happiness is tied to obtaining the next thing. Practicing aparigraha helps to cut through the clutter of a life driven by attachment and aversion, making it easier to live in the present moment.

 

The practice of aparigraha offers insight into what we really need, which isn’t actually that much. Living a simple life will help others be able to simply live. A statement that is reflected in the vast disparity of material wealth within the world, and likely right in your own community. It is also reflected in our relationship as humans to the natural world. We often take much more than we need. A grave example of this is the immense amount of plastic waste polluting the oceans. The United Nations Environmental Program reported in June, 2006 an average of 46,000 pieces of plastic floating on or near the surface of every square mile of ocean. Almost none of the plastic we use readily biodegrades, resulting in a very high volume of accumulated plastic trash. Consequently, many whales and other marine species have been found dead with stomachs full of plastic waste, obstructing their intestines and causing starvation.

 

Being content does not mean you don’t care about what is going on around you; what is happening in your community, in your country, and in the world matters greatly. Your actions are potent and so it’s important to make the most educated and informed decisions you can. When we live simply, taking just what we need and leaving the rest, it is easier for us to live in the present moment, find contentment and be truly happy. Patanjali says that cultivating contentment will result in happiness; true contentment to true happiness. Not based on any circumstance, just on ones own state of mind.

 

Practicing yoga and meditation facilitates present moment awareness, and the opportunity to notice that beyond discomfort with a present circumstance, and beyond clinging to either the way things are or to some desire for them to be different, we can find contentment here and now. Our practice can be a tangible way to simplify and realize that regardless of any circumstance or obtainment of things outside of ourselves, we already have all we need to find the underlying peace that resides within.

 

Article written by Drisana Lewis and originally published on her blog at www.drisanalewis.com

 

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