Practical Patanjali: Sutra 2.27
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Aparigraha & Santosha

We’re all striving for what makes us feel good. In part it is an attempt to cover up the uncomfortable feelings. Partly it’s an attempt to avoid them. We want to feel satisfied, happy. In some cases, we want to feel what is familiar, which is a far cry from happy. Content isn’t typically on the list. It feels a little like admitting defeat. Which is the root of the problem. As if, in being content, we accept no better than what we have at the present moment; as if we can’t still improve. When we are at war with our inner space we can never be content. If you can’t be ok with where you are, you’ll berate yourself and then you’ll stay there.

There are two yogic concepts that deal with this. (There are more, but for our purposes, we’ll focus on these two. If you want more knowledge, please see Anne-Marie’s thoughts on the Yoga Sutras, and keep an eye out for our virtual video philosophy discussions.) Aparigraha and Santosha. Aparigraha is non-grasping or non-greediness. Santosha is complete contentment.

It may seem counterintuitive to let go of what you want to achieve it. Surrender is another concept of the Sutras and can increase your  quality of life. Non-grasping is the idea that there is a way to achieve without always needing to achieve more. Settling doesn’t need to be involved. An understanding of what is right for you is crucial. When we compare to other situations outside of our own we create unnecessary tension in our own circumstances. What another needs or wants doesn’t need to influence your decisions. The grass always looks greener doesn’t it? That misperception of anothers situation often stems from a lack of intel. We can project the peace we seek on someone else when we don’t know all the details of their struggle.

Santosha is the precursor of the precursor of meditation. Without contentment how can you settle enough to focus enough to practice concentration? To cultivate contentment is to be comfortable in the moment which will mean a steady mind. That steadiness is required to concentration on an object or idea. Santosha is the first step in the journey of meditation.

Examine your motivation. Do you really need more? Do you reach because you want to improve the quality of your life? Will more be a greater burden? Are you taking steps to prepare yourself for the way life will change with increased prosperity? That sounds a little ridiculous. But sometimes we want things with little conceptualization of how that thing will effect us and our circumstances. Do yourself the favor of a simple first step in growth: buy into the fact that you deserve it. 

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