Practice Contentment

By Lynn Felder, RYT

Don't do something; just sit there.

Read that sentence again. That's us, giving you permission to do nothing.

The big question is: Can we just sit and be Content? Can we practice Santosa/Contentment?

Try this: Just sit there. Close your eyes. Notice your body. Notice your energy. Notice your thoughts, notice your emotions. Listen to the sounds around and within you. Take three long, slow, deep cleansing breaths. Now open your eyes and take in your surroundings. Do you see things and people that you love, that you appreciate, that you care for?

Can you open to Contentment, in this moment, the only moment that there is?

Many of us have difficulty experiencing Contentment/Santosa (and we use the word "experiencing" instead of "finding" on purpose). Trying to find Contentment — or any other quality, for that matter — implies that it exists outside of us. In fact, Contentment, like most things, is already part of who we are; it is in us. Our job is just to realize it, to bring it from deep within us into consciousness.

Contentment/Santosa is one of the five Niyamas in the Eight Limbs of Yoga (Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi). The Yamas (Ahimsa/Non-violence is one of these) are wise characteristics. Niyamas are "personal observances," attitudes that we adopt in order to generate inner peace and become more yogic.

When we allow the experience of Contentment to occur, we often find that it is bound to Gratitude. It is difficult to have one without the other. They are happy side-effects of each other.

And don't confuse Contentment with satisfaction at some accomplishment or even with "getting what we want." Contentment is not the result of achievement; it is the result (and the process) of accepting everything in this moment, as it is. Contentment has very little to do with what is happening in the moment and everything to do with our attitude to the moment.

So set an intention to "allow Contentment" all throughout this day. Set some reminders on your calendar or some notes about your house. "I will allow Contentment ... now."

See how this yogic intention will both melt and strengthen you. Instead of cultivating unhappiness over what we don't have, let us be happy with what we have.

This is Contentment.


Copyright by Lynn Felder December 2008. Lynn Felder is an award-winning journalist, a yoga teacher registered with the Yoga Alliance and the author of the DVD “Gentle Yoga for Cancer Patients,” available at

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