Can we learn to be content with Santosha?

I’ve been thinking about Santosha this week, the second of the niyamas, which means contentment and I was drawn back to a blog entry that I wrote during my last holiday, which happened to be in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt in October ’16. Indeed, we flew home just one day before the awful news of the Russian airplane crashing into the Sinai desert. Very sad times, and I can’t even begin to imagine the terrible loss suffered. I didn’t feel it appropriate to post the blog at the time because I felt so sad but for me, it is a stark reminder of the very reason why it is important to be content and happy with our lives; so many are not. So, not a very ‘roses around the door’ opening to a blog post on contentment, I’m afraid, but in the spirit of honesty and realness, we must acknowledge that sometimes there are sad times in life. In the words of Dolly,

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain
— Dolly Parton


Santosha - How can I be content?

Holidays; what a perfect opportunity to remember the beauty and yoga of life. As a yoga teacher with a keen interest in anatomy, it's amazing to notice our wonderful physical human diversity and just as a regular ol' me, to notice that we all share the the same feelings of simple pleasures of a holiday; a break from our normal routine or environment.

All around, families are together, relaxed and happy. Parents noticing and sharing the joy of their young ones; revelling in the sunshine, building their sandcastles and splashing down the water slides. Children noticing their parents relaxed, playing with them and making new friends with the parents of other children. The staff of the hotel, diligent and happy in their work maintaining the beautiful gardens, taking pride in preparing and serving culinary delights, enjoying speaking and laughing with guests, always with the warmth of a smile, always "with my pleasure".

Whether fortunate enough to travel the globe to sunny climes or visiting in a local park, how lovely it is to look around and notice that yes everyone is so uniquely different and yet we are the same.

As we near to the end of a holiday, we all sometimes feel a sadness of leaving the lovely long sunny days, happy memories and temporary residence behind; if only we could bottle these things and take them home. The lovely thing to realise is that we can.

It is a sad fact that in modern times, we do have to be aware that there are a minority who do not share good intentions towards their fellow human beings but it seems that in our own normal environment, we view all strangers as 'baddies'.

How about we try to think of strangers as friends that we don't yet know? How different would that feel? Can you smile and say good morning to a fellow commuter on the train platform the way you do to another family making their way to or from the beach, also laden with beach balls and lilos? Are you able to make small talk with another shopper waiting in a long queue at the supermarket the way you do when you're patiently queueing to have your passport checked?

Small things, eh? They can make all the difference to somebody’s day and the smallest act of kindness can make a big difference to the way we feel about ourselves, too. "Be the change you would like to see in the world" because even the tallest of palm trees began as just a little seed.