One of yoga’s guiding principles is “santosha” or contentment.
Reaching for this goal may be challenging for those of us who may want things to be different than they really is. However, it is a worthwhile aspiration, learning to accept what is, rather than wishing for what it could be.
It is easy to think, “I will be happy when my true love comes along.” Or when you’re thin again. Or when you win the lottery. Summer never ends.
Boomers and beyond may eventually come to understand that life doesn’t work like that. If we want peace of mind, we are required to be content, no matter what.
Acceptance of yourself and your circumstances is especially valuable when you move toward the elder years. You see — and can feel — there are some losses, and you recognize the changes that come along with aging. But to ruminate and dwell upon what has come to pass is unwise and it can lead to unhappiness. Instead, we can look to the gains of aging, perhaps at last coming to terms with who we are and how life shows up for us.
Accepting our true and individual nature is one sign of the mature person. I am who I am. Choosing to keep learning, and to continue to grow, no matter what age you are is another sure sign of maturity.
Let us consider acceptance and contentment in relationships.
We can learn to let go of our grievances with another and forgive their foibles because we really love the person. At the same time, we must recognize that we, too, have our own little — and not so little — faults. We can yield to the fact that no one person can fill all our needs, and therefore, come to respect what it is we have with another that is sustaining.
But what about someone living with neglect and abuse? Can we agree that this is simply not acceptable? It is a fact that too many people stay in abusive and sometimes dangerous relationships, or accept the other person’s occasional, or ongoing, hurtful treatment. Abuse may be verbal, economic, physical or sexual. None of it is acceptable. Acceptance of bad behavior is unhealthy and unwise.
It is so easy to make excuses for someone you love: “Well, they’re not always bad to me and they apologize later.” “I think they are changing, or at least they say they want to change.”“I can tolerate anything as long as I’m not left alone.” And then there are those marriages that cannot be saved, even after repeatedly trying to make it right. It is then that we may be forced to accept that final separation is called for. Letting go is so difficult for some.
Coming to terms with the end of what was once a loving relationship may call for more clarity and great fortitude. Staying away from blame helps to accept the situation as it is and move on.
With yoga we strive for “santosha,” contentment leading to peace of mind, which is the one thing each of us wants and needs for health and longevity.
Angelena Craig of Newburyport is the director of The New Aging Movement and a professional-level yoga instructor. Visit her website at www.thenewagingmovement.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.