This weather. Dark, dreary, damp. I give it a D- for a Wisconsin winter. Gross. The snow has melted. The sun has disappeared. There's fog daily. It rains and mists. Ugh. Cannot stand it.
I can't do anything about that. My griping won't change the weather; however, what my griping does accomplish is that it brings me down. Complaining about the weather is a huge pet peeve of mine anyway. All winter (in Wisconsin, remember), people complain about the cold. About the snow. About the ice. Where do they think they live? It's like people are surprised every year that winter came again.
I love winter (the real winter with snow and cold and ice, not the current kind that we have). The snow is sparkly. If the weather is bad enough, we all get to stay home. The cold air smells good. There are many other weird little reasons that I love winter. However, I have been known to complain about several days in a row of temperatures below -25 F. My bad.
This (stupid) weather made me think about the second of the Niyamas. The Niyamas are the five concepts that lead us toward harmony. Together, they comprise the second of the eight faceted paths of yoga. The second Niyama is Santosha. It represents joy and contentment. So, I am content with winter when there is a lot of snow along with cold, sunny days. This year? Not so much. The trick with Santosha is that it challenges us to be content with what IS, not with what IS NOT. (sigh)
So, how can I reach Santosha with this weather? Well, I can run outside without slipping around. My skin isn't as dry as it usually gets with normal winter air. Driving isn't as dicey. Does Santosha mean that I am now in love with the weather? No, it does not. However, it does mean that I can live with it and not be crabby about it. The weather will change eventually too. I can find contentment in that.
My title doesn't really tell the story of Santosha. This Niyama DOES NOT tell us to "suck it up," but that's usually what we do. We grudgingly accept the current state of affairs. We sort of find ourselves ok with things as they are. Santosha isn't about trying to fool ourselves. It asks us to truly find peace in accepting the current moment as it is, with all its possible not so shiny parts.
Now. Let's not confuse Santosha with complacency. Santosha is not an excuse to slack off or neglect or ignore. We are still responsible for making an effort. However, when things don't go the way we'd like, we don't get to throw a fit. Maybe we sigh instead and accept some peace in the learning process and contentment for having tried. Then we roll up our sleeves and get busy.
This is completely relevant with your yoga practice too. Maybe you are frustrated because you can't seem to achieve a certain pose in the way you'd like. You practice and practice, but you seem to be blocked. That's when you remember Santosha. Find peace in the process. Let what you have achieved so far be good enough, and release the stress. Funnily enough, that's when you will probably start to progress until one day, you realize you're there.
Whatever you are working on, don't give up! However, be gentle with yourself. We are all a work in progress.
Have a week of peace and contentment.
(Image courtesy of Pixabay.com)