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Santosha: Gratitude

Santosha means contentment. It is about having a sense of equanimity, a sense of being OK. Probably a lot of us have experienced a lot of not being OK over the past year (for those of you reading this later, we are mid-pandemic). Santosha does not ask us to try to pretend that everything is OK. Rather, it asks us to find acceptance, to be OK with not being OK. It asks us to recognize and be with the difficult stuff without forgetting the positive. This is an idea that really resonated for me when I was taking my mindfulness teacher training. I had always balked at people’s tendencies to use positive things to dismiss difficulties: Worried about whether you will get that promotion? Well, at least you have a job. Your kid is misbehaving? At least they are healthy. I felt like these sorts of sentiments brought about a sense of guilt for suffering, as if because you had positive things in your life, you had no right to suffer. Heaping guilt onto suffering is profoundly unhelpful. We all suffer. Yes, there are differences in situations, but there is no hierarchy of suffering. The fact that some people are facing more difficult situations does not mean that our smaller difficulties aren’t worthy of attention. If we don’t tend to our suffering, it becomes worse. Also, if we don’t practice being compassionate with ourselves and others when facing small difficulties, how are we going to know how to manage when bigger ones arise?

The goal is not to forget or ignore the tough things, it is to make sure we don’t forget or ignore the good things that continue to be there, alongside our suffering. While the suffering is real and true and requires attention, the positive things are also real and true and require attention. As our minds tend to be attracted to the negative, it is sometimes harder to remember the positive things. It takes a little bit of work.

If you are interested in exploring a meditation that reminds us of the good things in our lives, I would suggest checking out my recordings (one video and one audio) of the Safe, Resourced and Connected meditation on my Mindfulness and Yoga Practices page. This meditation is designed to remind us of things that are OK in our lives. It is not meant to deny the hard things in our lives. It is just meant to bring some balance by reminding us of some things that are OK. I hope you find it as comforting as I have found it over the past year.

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