How can we cultivate santosha, or contentment, in our lives? We asked Stephanie Snyder, who is teaching a session on this niyama, from Pantajali’s Yoga Sutras, at YJ LIVE! San Diego. If you want to join her santosha practice on June 26, sign up now.
This meditation supports one aspect of santosha by encouraging us to sit with discomfort without experiencing dissatisfaction. It helps us work with difficult and challenging emotions and hold both in the emotional and physical body so that we can come to know these aspects of ourselves and begin to gently release the tension from within. We gain tolerance of discomfort for the sake of our own spiritual development.
1. Come into a comfortable cross-legged seat. Connect with the ground by feeling the Earth beneath you and acknowledging that support. This is important so that you can remain present and aware. As you sense the ground beneath, experience your own “of-this-Earth-ness.” Once this grounded awareness is established, you can begin to zoom out. With closed eyes, widen your inner lens for a gentle and open awareness.
2. Invoke blessing from the enlightened ones, from the teachings and your teachers and their teachers and all the teachers that have come before. Take this moment to recognize that you are supported by all those who have done this work throughout space and time.
3. Bring up an event or memory that is a source of negative emotion or difficulty. The actual story of the event/memory is not the focus; what matters now is going to the feeling and finding where it resides in your body. Take time as you remember the event/memory and observe where can you sense tightness, gripping, tingling, or even numbness. As you become aware of the physical manifestation of the psycho-emotional tension, begin to observe the pattern of holding in the body. Allow yourself to become gently familiar with the territory while staying on the outer edges of it. Remain in the wide open zoomed out awareness. Don’t get sucked into the content of the story. Let this be a birds-eye view.
4. Continue to notice the breath while acknowledging the physical tension.
5. Now go back to your ground resource: the earth, earthiness, being supported, etc.
6. As you sit, be tolerant of and allow yawning, sighing, wiggling a bit, even tearing up. These are all ways that the body releases tension, and you can observe the gift of that tension leaving the body.
7. Declare your prayer or intention of letting the trauma leave the body and your willingness to let go. Keep it soft and gentle. Express your willingness to unhook from the event/memory and let it go.
8. End with a chant that supports you and closes the gates while still allowing space for processing and healing. You could choose a chant such as Om or Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.