Over the last week I have been easing back into life in Charlotte and away from graduate school (a bittersweet sensation). While getting reacquainted to the feeling of 90+ degree weather and the unfamiliarity of “free time”, I am enjoying the luxury of devoting some thought and energy to my intention for August. As I prepared to write my initial post for this month, I quickly recalled what my focus is (Santosha, or contentment) but could not for the life of me remember what I said I was going to do… because I didn’t. Way back in January, I literally wrote “TBA” next to the final months of the year, apparently unable to pin down how I was going to put each of the last four Niyamas into action. But, understandably so. Santosha, Tapas, Svadhyaya, and Ishvara Pranidhana are a little trickier than some of the preceding practices. Being truthful or non-violent are pretty concrete, measurable ideas – finding contentment or devotion? Not so much.
Nevertheless, proceed we must! So, for the month of August, I will practice Santosha by not complaining. This means eliminating negative speech and thoughts centered around circumstances I cannot change or situations that have already passed. I like to think of myself as a mostly positive person who has little room for complaint in general, but from time to time I do find myself saying words that serve absolutely no purpose, except to share the overdramatic woe that I or someone else have experienced, to no avail. I will also remove myself from conversations where complaining is abundant, or even present. I do not seek to impose my intention on others by telling them how to speak or behave, but I can control my surroundings (to an extent) and will regulate what I absorb from others, and therefore what I emit. By no means do I plan to be a ray of artificial sunshine, because let’s be honest… shit happens. I just hope to channel that energy that would have otherwise spilled out through pointless complaints into a more constructive manifestation. Yes, people got problems, but brooding over and talking about them at length will generally not make them better. I intend to, somehow, serve as a problem-solver rather than -spreader. Even if my part of the solution is just reframing my thoughts and choosing my words more carefully, I believe that one less complaint in the air can go a long way.
Additionally, I plan to approach Santosha from a more pro-active stance (instead of just what NOT to do). I will make it a point to notice, document, and post (here and on Facebook) what does bring me contentment. Sometimes thought of as the lesser version of happiness, or just “meh”, contentment often gets a bad rap. But I think of it as the more sustainable, less flashy, version of happiness. Contentment can be found in the smallest, simplest, moments – even the mundane. Yesterday I was lucky enough to take my dog for a long walk, enjoy a massage, take an awesome yoga class, and share wine and conversation with friends. For me, THAT is Santosha – nothing fancy or epic, just the little things. Happiness can be exhausting; your cheeks start to hurt. Contentment is lasting; it encompasses joy, peace, and gratitude all in one. I’ll be sharing my experiences of Santosha on the good old book of Face, just to keep myself accountable, and perhaps, in some way to counter all the complaining that seems to grow wild on there. I’ll be using the (gasp!) hashtag #monthofsantosha and invite anyone else who wishes to do the same. I will not share fanatically, forcefully, or daily (“Contentment is… this tuna sandwich”). But who knows? Maybe we can all find something everyday that brings us contentment, and the put THAT in the air instead.