“When we let go of the constant need to become, we can more easily just be.” –Law of Positivism
The yoga philosophy of santosha, or contentment, is the second niyama that teaches us to be with all the moment holds without comparing it to the past or future. Santosha guides us to recognize that right now is enough, and right now you are enough.
In yoga, contentment means that we meet ourselves where we are without judgment and without the need to gain or become more than what is right now.
Those who suffer from eating disorders are often “striving to look a particular way or to be a certain weight,” as Yoga for Eating Disorders Team Member Maz Connolly shares was her experience. Maz writes, “I stopped striving to look a particular way or to be a certain weight and instead used the same determination that I had used against myself for so long, to work on becoming more content with myself. The more I was able to do that; to open myself up to the practice of Santosha, the more that acceptance and contentment extended into other areas of my life.”
Maz also shares how she applies santosha to her yoga practice: “Santosha has taught me to not think a posture has to look a certain way; to let go of comparison and just accept “good enough”, as long as good enough is safe. It has taught me to notice how my asana practice has developed, how my strength and flexibility have improved and to let go of any self-judgement or self-criticism. It has also helped me to become more accepting of what my body can and can’t do and how that changes on a daily basis.”
Dr. Agatha Glowacki, Yoga for Eating Disorders Guest Blog Contributor, describes “constantly seeking to become better, being constantly involved in self improvement, and being wrapped up tightly in feeling “not enough.’” She says learning about santosha helped her “to instead turn towards what I already was and what I had, and to appreciate it. To stop grasping towards the future, and to embrace the present moment.” She goes on, “Whenever my natural competitive self would emerge and I would look around the room to see how others were doing, in order to compare myself, I would catch myself and stop. Instead, I would practice looking inside and telling myself ‘you are perfect just where you are.’
Reflect on Santosha in Your Recovery
Practicing santosha means accepting that we don’t have to ‘like’ the now, but rather practice being open and learning to observe the now without judgment. Start by asking yourself:
How is discontent showing up in my recovery currently?
How is comparing to the past or future keeping me stuck?
How might contentment with what is allow me to actually move forward?
If I pay attention to where I am right now (not the past or future), what do I notice or learn about myself?
What can I do in this moment to help myself?
A Yoga Practice and Meditations for Practicing Contentment
I invite you to join me for a short yoga practice meeting yourself in the moment. All you need is a mat and any props you like – blocks, bolsters, chairs, blankets – whatever makes you comfortable.
Consider ending the practice with a guided meditation on santosha to practice being in the moment without comparing it to the past or future – and seeing yourself as part of the moment.
I’d love to hear how you focus on contentment in your recovery. Please feel free to share in the comments. And if you are looking for support on your recovery journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out.