The 2nd Niyama: Santosa
Santosa is a really important Niyama for me to work on. My affirmation for Santosa was “I focus on the positive and express my gratitude openly and often.” I found myself reflecting on how in our society we (I certainly do this) think we are entitled to a lot. In fact North American’s are less than 10% of the world population, yet we consume more resources than any other continent. Canadian consume more energy per capita than any other country! (We, in Canadians and Americans, are also the largest emitters of green house gases). Although these sorts of statistics seem to be fairly widespread knowledge, most North Americans don’t question them much or think about how they could make things different.
To me, Santosa is about being grateful with what we have and starting to question this sense of entitlement. And for me this questioning has led me to work to find ways to be content with less. Wanting less, not more, is particularly hard right now around the holidays when we’re bombarded with consumerism and encouragement to want want want and buy buy buy. I already realize that I don’t need many of the things I want, I could happily live without them. Realizing this is a first step, but letting go of the want is another step. When I spend more time meditating and doing yoga I notice that this wanting is less dominant than when I spend lots of time watching/interacting with the media on tv and internet. Also when I make an effort to express gratitude it reminds of how blessed I actually am, and that makes me feel more content and less wanting. This also applies to non-material goals. I am full of wants for my future: academic goals, dreams for my career, for a home, for a family someday. Often these dreams take me away from being contended with the present moment. I strive to reach these dreams so much that I forget that what really matters is my happiness and the effect I’m having around me in this present. The main determinant of my future happiness won’t be endlessly worrying about it and preparing for it, but rather learning to be content with where I am in each present moment.
(note: Santosa can alternatively be spelled 'Santosha' or 'Samtosha')