A few months ago I was in a yoga class, and the instructor said something to the effect of:
“Complaining is simply a rejection of the present moment, which is all we have.”
A Google dictionary search defines “complain” as:
- Express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event
- State that one is suffering from (a pain or other symptom of illness)
- State a grievance
Leaving the distinction between pain and suffering for another day, I’ll admit it: I’m someone who’s gotten into the habit of complaining a lot.
Santosha is the second niyama, or observance that yogis should follow. Santosha means “contentment”. In other words, it’s the exact opposite of complaining: it’s cultivating gratitude for everything (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) that’s going on in your life, right here, right now, regardless of whether you’d prefer to be / have something / someone / someplace else. It’s not jealousy or envy but rather, radical acceptance.
Sigh. Whether or not you feel as though your life as a whole is going well, practicing santosha day to day can present us all with a challenge every now and again.
Much has been written about santosha and how the ego plays a large role in keeping us in a state of perpetual complaint instead of being satisfied and even hopeful about what is. Fortunately, several fellow yogis join us in this struggle, and offer practical advice about how to cultivate more contentment in our lives. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Four ways to focus on contentment in your day
- Pema Chodron “This Lousy World” (really amusing video)
- Suggestions for cultivating contentment
- Changing feelings of discontent into contentment
- A practice of santosha for the Thanksgiving holiday
- Santosha in the Holiday Season (added as part of my radical acceptance that people have Christmas trees up before Halloween 🙂 )
Hopefully, the more we focus on being content with what is, right now, the less room there will be for complaints! How will you replace your next urge to complain with contentment?