Contentment (Santosha) and the chakras.
By Yogi Baba Prem Yogacharya, Veda Visharada,
Santosha or contentment is a common teaching within many yoga traditions. The teaching of santosha appears within the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali under the niyamas limb, yet it is much more expansive then just a casual sense of contentment, rather santosha is an important factor within one’s lifestyle. While a sense of contentment in general is a healthy step forward and an accomplishment even if it is fleeting at times; santosha can be applied on a multitude of levels and better understood through the three manifestations or forces that shape it, which are the gunas or attributes known as—sattva (harmony/balance), rajas (activity/passion) and tamas (inertia/decay). When the gunas and their influence are understood within the chakras, an important map begins to reveal itself regarding the philosophy, yogic science, practice and lifestyle of contentment.
Santosha can be a state of mind, but it also has a special or unique manifestation within each chakra, which is within the field of the mind. The combination of santosha with each guna offers a unique application within one’s life. For our purposes, we will examine the relationship of santosha to the muladhara (1st) chakra.
Santosha in the muladhara chakra from a sattvic perspective brings a sense of well-being and contentment into our physical world; this is an expansive consideration when one considers all the aspects that comprise one’s physical world. While it is commonly taught as contentment in the moment, it is important to note that the goal is contentment within each successive moment. Sattvic santosha is contentment within one’s place in the world and life; this can also include contentment with one’s body. While this sounds rather simple, in reality many struggle and work quite hard to even approach this level of contentment. For individual's transitioning to the sattvic santosha state through the root chakra a sense of gratefulness will arise within the mind. They will often write about what they are grateful for, or will express a sense of gratitude for things in their life. For these people, the sense of gratitude marks the awakening energies of santosha from a sattvic (harmonious) state, as well as indicating their efforts of bringing santosha into the physical world.
Under the influence of rajas, contentment manifests within one’s life passions relative to the physical world. It is here that desire can be powerful. Under the influence of rajas, there can be slight conflicts regarding contentment with one’s job, career, and recognition. There may be feelings of contentment when active, but the sense can become lost during quiet time. The rajas quality can be observed with the constant need for entertainment, cell phones and the need for stimulation coming from the physical world. Often this produces a pseudo santosha that is not uplifting and calming to the mind. There may be passionate feelings regarding one’s self image. There can be a strong presence of desire and passion, which can manifest in somewhat healthy ways down to rather destructive tendencies. When santosha moves into its shadow side under the influence of rajas, one will experience discontent with their life passions opening a doorway and one may come under the influence of tamas, or a combination of rajas/tamas influencing santosha. This shadow side can easily pull one into the tamasic and potentially destructive traits of negativity, longing for something better, yet unable to take steps to break the inertia to free oneself from the rut that keeps holding oneself tamasic aspect of life. Likewise, tamas keeps one from swimming in the ambrosial waters of santosha, we will examine this in more detail shortly. Under pure rajas there is some degree of contentment, yet it will be in a state of flux and will function more as a mixed quality producing waves in the physical realm of temporary feelings of contentment contrasted with aggressive moves seeking acquisition on a material level.
Often under the tamasic force there is little contentment. The physical world seems chaotic and there is little to no harmony. It is at this state that santosha may be the most elusive. In its higher function tamas aids in keeping one in the state of contentment, a sort of inertia state, but this is a higher function of tamas, and most deal with the shadow side of tamas. In the shadow side of tamasic santosha, one can be immersed deeply into destructive patterns and habits. If these energies move below the root chakra into what are called the talas (chakras below the root chakra) one can become violent, and more animal-like in behavior. A great deal of criminal activity occurs under this influence. Under the tamasic influence, generally there is a complete absence of contentment, often this manifests as a seeking of alcohol, drugs, or illegal drugs, as drugs provide an illusionary and temporary sense of contentment. Though illusionary, this pseudo contentment is quite powerful and is the cause of a great deal of suffering within humanity.
One can use yoga and meditation to transition from the tamasic and rajasic state towards the sattvic state. Additional factors that aid in the manifestation of santosha could involve diet, such as eating fresh vegetables and fruits, affirmations such as 'I am filled with contentment’, though it takes high numbers of repetitions of affirmation for them to affect the subconscious mind, mantra such as the Gayatri mantra, meditation, aromas such as frankincense, myrrh or sandalwood, pranayam such as alternative nostril breathing, and asana. The combination of these is relative to each individual, and is somewhat individualized, therefore it is important to consult an Acharya or Yogacharya. While it does initially take some work, it is more a byproduct of doing the work, and embracing the healthy qualities that increases sattvic contentment. There are numerous health and spiritual benefits as santosha is one of the more important qualities one can strive for in life.
If you wish to increase santosha within your life and need assistance, schedule a session with Yogi Baba Prem.
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