Sutra 2.42: santosha anuttamah sukha labhah
From contentment there flows the most excellent happiness and delight. Translation and interpretation by Swami Venkatesananda
If only I had a red sports car, I would be happy.
If I could just do a handstand, I would be satisfied.
If I were a little more smooth, I would be content.
Too many of us move through our lives with such thoughts rolling through our minds as refrains, creating ever-moving marks by which we try to measure our happiness. Perhaps it is the measuring that brings our attention to the inevitable “better, happier, fitter” that we could be. And so we set goals and work towards progress and get lost in the future.
I see this every day in my own life with, of all things food. I perpetually look forward to my next meal as if there were a danger that some mythic power would keep me from it until my body seethed with hunger. And when this does actually happen (not the mythic power, but the hunger), 8 out of 10 times it is horrible (my gut brain kicks me into survival mode!), but I don’t starve and life goes on. Eventually I do get to eat and gradually I feel better. And so me and my gut live in a food future that has very little to do with my present state of nourishment.
Most days, anyway. Occasionally, when I’m joyously busy or when I’m at some kind of all day camp and the food is provided so I don’t need to think ahead, I find myself in a break from my food future, and it is quite peaceful.
It’s not about hungry or not hungry either, it’s about movement when I let go of my worry and just enjoy what’s happening right now, and the next moment, and the next, until eventually one of those moments happens to involve dinner and then the moment just keep going. In this one area of my life, I can be at ease and content then.
I remember the times when this has just “happened”, but I can also choose it – and these moments have taught me the experience, so that when I simply choose it, I know what I’m after. In my example, planning and preparing can help so that there are fewer roadblocks to being present, and the choice of santosha is easier, but ultimately, it is a full body exercise (brain and all).
“Don’t worry, be happy.” sings Bobby McFerrin. A smile begets a smile, says science. Find content inside yourself, and you will have all you need.
Hari om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts.
Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.