Today the Sun enters the sign of Capricorn heralding a period of focus, productivity and pragmatism. This is a good time to set goals for the next chapter in our lives. Simultaneously, Saturn Lord of order reenters his own sign in Capricorn after a 29 year jaunt around the zodiac, and he is here to stay for the next 3 years. Time to make those 3 year plans!
Capricorn is the taskmaster of the heavens and has a reputation for being a workaholic, these goats work with focussed determination forever grasping for the next reward to achieve success through hard work and perseverance. This influence is one to be careful of especially during the silly season when we are all prone to burning the candle at both ends. To work hard and play hard can lead to stress, exhaustion, anxiety and can reek havoc on our nervous system.
It could be said that our results-driven society is ruled by the characteristics of Saturn, the ruler of Capricorn, creating a culture of individuals who are forever in pursuit of the next big thing and never content with the here and now. Many of us have developed a habit of looking outside ourselves for validation and fulfilment. The truth is that we can only ever be ourselves and to ignore our inner greatness leads us to ongoing discontent and unhappiness.
The great lesson for all of us at this time is Santosha as outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Santosha means contentment, it means letting go of striving for what we don’t have and accepting what you do have with gratitude. It means being happy with what we have, where we are, and who we are. It means not looking outside of ourselves for happiness, it shows us that peace comes from within. We live in a consumerist society that feeds our discontent in order to sell us more stuff, we are conditioned from a very young age to want more. We also know from our own experience and the stories of others that having more stuff (including power and influence) does not bring us any lasting fulfilment and often leaves us empty. We can easily get caught up in this continual cycle of striving for more in the hope that the next thing will bring us happiness, and so the wheel of samskara keeps spinning.
Santosha can only be achieved by letting go of desire, letting go of having to prove anything, letting go of the need to conform, to fit in and to be what our culture/family/friends/peers want us to be. If we allow wealth, power or fame to be our driving force towards fulfilment, all other aspects of our lives including our relationships, our health, and our spirituality suffer.
It’s important to note that Santosha does not advocate sitting on the couch doing nothing, it isn’t to be confused with complacency. It simply means accepting and appreciating what we already have. Practicing gratitude feeds our confidence and creates a sense of well-being. When we are satisfied with ourselves and our lives, we are able to enjoy life more fully.
One way to create Santosha in our lives is by practicing mindfulness, which is to bring conscious attention to the present moment without judgment and finding contentment here. Mindfulness is not a passive activity and does not simply rest in acceptance but encourages us to bring awareness to the tendencies of our minds. Observing how our mind behaves then helps us to distance ourselves and to gently redirect our thoughts in a way that serves us. Cultivating Santosha brings us deep satisfaction and relieves us from being slaves to our minds and to a culture driven by power and money.
The path of yoga is to seek the truth rather than believing the cravings of the mind. By practicing mindfulness and cultivating Santosha we are better able to detach from our desires and cultivate an inner peace and joy that is not dependent on external circumstances. We find our own strength and our own truth from within. When we feel Santosha we begin to enjoy the simple things in life and we begin to notice just how abundant we really are.
“When you realise there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you” - Lao Tzu