“The result of contentment is total happiness. The happiness we get from acquiring possessions is only temporary. We need to find new ones and acquire them to sustain this sort of happiness. There is no end to it. But true contentment, leading to total happiness and bliss, is in a class by itself.” – T.K.V. Desikachar
Yoga Sutra II.42, Santosha is interpreted as the greatest happiness, the underlying joy that cannot be eradicated despite life's challenges. Cultivating gratitude for life, as it is exactly in this moment, is a true path to finding contentment. We cannot control the curveballs that life throws our way––we can only control our reaction to them. Stepping away for a few days to several weeks is an effective way to remind yourself that you can be happy anywhere.
Yoga retreats are an opportunity to literally turn off the buzz of Smart phones, television, computers, traffic and the rest of those modern conveniences that over-stimulate us and keep us stuck in “fight or flight” mode. The profound relaxation and joy established while disconnected from “real life” helps us tune in to how we’re feeling and appreciate the present moment.
When you arrive to your retreat, external noise is silenced, and profound peace is accessible. Unlike when you’re home focused on all life’s daily responsibilities, you can get quiet enough to hear your thoughts, experience your feelings, savor delicious food (prepared by someone else), and lose yourself in new surroundings. A great retreat is one where you have the freedom to listen to your inner voice. Do you feel like going for a hike or an arranged outing? Would you prefer to nap or read in a cozy nook? When you slow down, you can remind yourself what brings you joy and choose to be as active as feels good or mellow as you want.
In a retreat setting, finding true contentment and gratitude for the present moment is as natural as breathing. A week away practicing yoga offers a gentle reminder of how blessed you are. By creating an active practice of gratitude, rather than a reactive attitude to external events, you can find an enjoyment for what each day provides.
Of course it’s easy to feel gratitude in a setting like Scotland or Thailand or France. But, if we take the time to establish a santosha perspective, we can learn to be content the other 51 weeks of the year.
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