Clarity and Contentment | Saucha and Santosha

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Spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Birth, growth, diminishing, death. The cycles of life turn, and we transform with them.

When we are aware of the Earth’s processes and see ourselves as parts of a whole, we learn to let go of the need to control life and others for our personal benefit. We realize that yoga as a path to empowerment comes from deep awareness of the cycles of change. The unnatural and false patterns imprinted on us before the age of reason – the negative ego – can dissolve in the growing light of the higher self.

Ideas are born, goals are met, plans evolve, and old identities die. We give birth to children and new projects, nourish life, suffer loss, grow old, and die. By accepting and aligning with these inevitable cycles of Nature, we gain a sense of belonging and trust. We learn to trust our beautiful place in a sentient world.

The niyamas, the second limb of yoga articulated by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras, teach us how to how to participate in the natural world as agents of change, healers of broken hearts, and artists of renewal. Through these practices, we harmonize our inner life with larger fields of intelligence.

The five yamas, the first limb of yoga, encourage moral discipline in our social interactions, but this second limb engages our capacity for deeper connection with the sources of life, coherent relationships, and the divine radiance.

While the first limb checks the powerful survival instinct and re-channels it to serve a higher purpose, the second limb in Patanjali’s eightfold path shows us how to harness internal psychophysical energies which have been freed up by the yamas’ moral discipline. The five niyamas suggest we take specific cleansing actions, or kriya, that help us to harmonize our inner life with these larger cycles of life.

The first niyama, saucha, or purity, invites us to experience the pure joy of being alive, without contamination by toxic substances, thoughts, events, or people. To be the purest form of you involves keeping things clean, inside and out. Through both physical and mental hygiene, we keep our bodies and environments in order. We free ourselves from affliction and negative emotions; we have a sense of calm.

A person trained in yoga has more order and coherence because, on a daily basis, they bring together body, mind and breath into one smooth, graceful state of flow. Through the practices of asana and pranayama, we learn to keep ourselves clean, with healthy, clear functioning of organs as well as clarity of mind. With this inner purity and clarity, it’s easier to keep the body nourished with healthy foods and our homes clear of clutter. Physical cleanliness affects everything, so get rid of clutter, scrub the floors, and simplify your life.

Saucha also means purity of energy, thought and word. When we think about the dangers of our “post-truth” era, it is especially important that we not only keep our own expressions honest and clear, but also avoid toxic thinking and negative statements made by others.

Few things erode my clarity and wholesomeness more than mean-spirited conversations. Gossip, negative judgements, and hateful remarks hurt everyone. Because I’ve devoted myself to restraining my own negativities, I am sensitive when others gossip with mean intent.

When I look at my own past behaviors, I see that negative remarks reveal immature desire – to be admired, accepted or successful. I also recognize that those words depleted me spiritually while hurting others.

While it’s easier to criticize than create something meaningful on your own, we can elevate ourselves and others by focusing on the good in life and in others’ behavior. Who knows what difficulties others are facing?

Being impeccable means checking in with yourself to find if you tend to judge others while giving yourself credit, or if you credit others while judging yourself harshly. Either way, when thoughts, emotions, and conversations don’t reflect your highest self, they spew toxic energy into the environment.

By making our uses of language a sacred practice, we might also apply saucha to the people we listen to, the media we watch, and the content we read. We may need to share with our friends and family that we’re committed to being stellar in our yoga practice, and that means being truthful while also being non-violent. Remember that the yama, ahimsa, non-harming, comes before the second yama, satya, honesty.

While some gossip may be true, if it’s not in alignment with a higher truth that leads to a pro-social consciousness and wisdom, we may want to reconsider its value. Does it reflect our values?

There’s nothing wrong with requesting a different focus in conversations if your friends begin to go negative in a conversation. Share with them that you’re committed to being impeccable with yourself and are refraining from “negative intimacy” — bonding over the shortcomings of others.

Conversations – both inner dialogue and outer discussion — are in many ways a kind of yoga practice, a form of worship. Cleaning them of negativity can open us to our natural joy, and the second and third niyamas shows us how to do so.

Santosha, or contentment, the second niyama, encourages us to be grateful for what we already have. The world of consumerism and commercialism wants us to believe that we need to buy something new or hope for a particular result before we can be happy. This will always lead to disappointment. Santosha tells us that we can accept life just as it is. It’s not about being perfect, or having the ideal relationship or job. We are enlightened by the realization that there is extraordinary joy to be found in an ordinary moment.

Instead of complaining about what we don’t like, we train the mind to love what is. Live will throw us curve balls; there are many things we cannot control. In the Persian poet Rumi’s “The Guest House,” he writes:

“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”

Truly, santosha, is one of the greatest guides of yoga. By welcoming what we have, we relax into whatever we are doing right now, and realize that it is perfect. We can’t run after contentment, but we can create space for it.

If you don’t feel content, try out the feeling of acceptance and relaxation for just one breath. Take the next six seconds to listen to your heart. Clear away the clutter and simply inhale and exhale. While doing so, focus on your clear, open heart. Find the inner flame of kindness that radiates there from your basic goodness.

Let go of all resistance to feeling what’s happening in your physical body right now. Notice how emotional and mental contents flow. Relax as you watch them, as though you are sitting on a riverbank and watching a river, the flowing water undulating and constantly renewing. Witness the contents of the river of your mind and notice the physical tensions and holding patterns that you are creating. As you move through the body examining sensations, feelings, and thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and traumas imbedded there, you can see that your body has much to teach you about the state of your mind.

Focused on the loving kindness in your heart, lift the corners of your mouth in a smile. Smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that fight stress. These tiny molecules allow neurons to communicate and feel good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin are all released when a smile flashes across your face.

Plant the seeds of contentment by simply smiling and watch how serenity grows. In Evolutionary Yoga Flow classes, we call smiling the “advanced pose.”

That’s not to ignore the guidance that all our emotions can give us. But we don’t want to be run by our emotions. Through santosha, we develop the space and objectivity to discern between demands and expectations based on the dead past and useful information for choosing mindfully in the present and future.

Attention to the present moment in the body develops authentic guidance through saucha and santosha, the first two of the five niyamas. In the next Brave New Viewsletter, we’ll explore the remaining three niyamas — tapas, svadyaya, and Ischvara Pranidhana.

QUANTUM HEALING & PSYCH-K

Clear communication between body and mind is one of the keys to fulfilling our kuleana, our responsibility, our dharma in the world. Yoga unifies the interior world with wisdom, balance, and empowerment in the outer world through the connecting light.

Through Quantum Healing, Quantum Leap Creativity, and PSYCH-K – Kinesiology of the Psyche —- you are invited to experience the warmth and guidance of more and more of your connecting inner light.

Every year I try to learn and teach something new. Living here in Hawaii, it’s like weaving another thread in the planetary corpus collosum, making new connections to balance East and West, right and left brains of the planet.

Call Kona Coast Yoga and Wellness Now:
808.345-0050 for Office, Phone, or Skype Sessions.
Or enjoy a session at the Royal Kona Resort in Kailua Kona:
Call Lotus Spa @ 808-334-0445.

Marya has taught and shared her Yoga and Wellness Advocacy at Florida International University, Sydney Dance Center, Regis University in Denver, Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa, and Malang College in Java, Indonesia, as well as in Bali, India, and Europe, and at health clubs, churches, art centers, and health cooperatives internationally.

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“In whatever way you celebrate, be grateful! “  — The Hip Buddha
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