October 3, 2013.
In ancient Egypt, after death, the heart was removed from the body to be measured against the weight of a feather. If the heart was found to be heavier than the feather’s weight, the person was considered not ready for admission to heaven. The scale, although normally the measure of physical weight, was thought to reveal the degree of emotional heaviness held in the heart. The lighthearted were presumably permitted entry through a special ritual, as their physical heart was given a place of honor in the burial plot.
In the Yoga Sutras, we learn about the wonderful practice of Santosha—peace and contentment. The Sutra tells us: “When at peace and contentment with one’s self and others, supreme joy is celebrated.”
Santosha is an agreement of faith that we make with our Divine Self. This faith fastens us to the peace that abides in our hearts, no matter what the fates bring. By this affirmation, we firmly identify with our inner essence rather than with external objects. Our identification then travels with gratitude, and we appreciate how much we have rather than how much we want. With this attitude, all things that come and go do not have the opportunity to override our joy. Instead, they metamorphose into stillness and peace.
Some of us open naturally to joy, while others need to cultivate it more carefully. For most of us, the subtler aspects of Santosha elude us from time to time. Everlasting joy cleaves to us through cultivating the understanding that we hold the power to our own happiness. Even if temporarily lost, our joy will soon return, as it is the lifelong reward for attaining wisdom.
A Meditation: Experiencing Your Joyful Nature
Venture to a comfortable place, either physically or in your imagination, where the surroundings evoke a feeling of peace and joy.
Spend a few minutes experiencing comfort with the ambience and notice if you spontaneously begin to smile.
Once the smile forms, let it stay on your face, close the eyes, and journey inward.
Notice how the outer smile is greeted by the inner smile of contentment in your heart.
The smile is the outward expression of the joy.
When you leave the physical place that invoked this feeling, the outward smile remains as the constant reminder of your inner contentment. Sharing it with each person you meet is like sharing a place in your heart.
If at any time the contentment seems to be hiding, coax it out with a sweet upturning of your lips and cheeks and a sparkle in your eyes.
“When at peace and contentment with one’s self and others (Santosha), supreme joy is celebrated.”
Yoga Sutra II:42
❤ Learn more about the Yoga Sutras with The Secret Power of Yoga audiobook by Nischala Joy Devi.