Today’s article is about the second of the yogic principles to follow in Niyama, Santosha, that is inner peace or equanimity of mind.

Inner peace is a powerful state of being but requires the development of certain mental attitudes. If you keep your attention absorbed in the ups and downs of life, always worrying about something missing or striving to attain desired situations, your life will be filled with the turmoil and disruption of the need to acquire and the fear of loss.

To begin to practice the principle of Santosha, you will need to step back a bit from the drama of striving to acquire and avoidance of loss. Doing this entails acceptance. Equanimity of mind comes through letting go. It is not an avoidance of the conflicts or the struggles in life. On the contrary, equanimity comes when a person can find deep contentment, deep acceptance in the midst of conflict or struggle. A real peace comes not through avoidance, but through mental equilibrium in all situations and circumstance.

You can bring all of the pleasant and the unpleasant experiences of life into equanimity be recognizing that all life experiences are temporary. It works better not to feed the negative experiences in life with your anticipation, worry and distress or stress out trying to achieve the positive experiences. When instead you cultivate equanimity, peace with what is ensues.

As the old saying goes, the grass is always greener of the other side, but with this attitude you are never at peace. When you begin to really look around and appreciate the grass on your side of the fence, what is here and now, then you begin to discover Santosha, contentment.

This is where cultivating positive attitudes towards yourself and what life brings you comes in, no matter if it is difficult or wonderful. It is hard to find contentment in life when you cannot accept yourself or appreciate your own life. When you can practice real self acceptance is when you become free, when you can see not only others but your own shadows, look straight into them and see just as clearly as in the light - without response, reaction, or rejection.

As long as you reject the parts of yourself that are shadowy, you will not be the master of them. When you can love and accept all parts of yourself, you can love all parts of others, and the play of shadow and light becomes just a play in consciousness, not a struggling to acquire one state and reject another. This struggle is the human condition of bondage.

To be free is to accept light and shadow, joy and struggle, and to truly accept yourself, with both your strengths and your weaknesses. Life is complex, never back and white, never all good or all bad. It is a mix and each one of us is a mix also. When you stop running and are with what is, even learn to love what is, then life unfolds.

Peace comes when you can find a place inside of yourself that really accepts life as it is with deep love and appreciation, even when it isn’t going your way. This is Santosha, equanimity that allows you to be content and at peace with yourself in all circumstances. It is an amazing experience to really be OK, or even happy, with what is and not feel a restless, hungry need to be something other than what you are or to have something more. To be truly content is to be free.

If you want to explore these ideas further, you can get my book Living Love, the Yoga of Yama and Niyama on Amazon or Kindle.

Be well all,

Maetreyii Ma

Author's Bio: 

In addition to being an author, Maetreyii Ma is a licensed psychologist with a doctorate in Transpersonal Psychology, a teacher of yogic philosophy and ancient wisdom, an ERYT 500 Yoga Teacher, and an ordained Yogic minister, or Acharya.

Dr. Nolan is currently the president of Ananda Guru Kula, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading the wisdom teachings of Yoga and a psychologist in private practice. She currently spends her time in private practice as a psychologist, giving ‘Baba Talks’, teaching and making books of these beautiful discourses. She resides with her family in their ashram community in the Northern San Francisco Bay area where she serves as the spiritual director.