The literal translation of the second niyama is contentment. I believe that an applicable way of explaining Santosha is simply, that it is having trust in a guiding supreme universal force, whether it is Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, or the ocean breeze. Santosha is about believing in every moment that all is exactly as it should be. This reminds me of a beautiful parable of a Chinese farmer…
“It is what it is”
A man named Sei Weng owned a beautiful mare which was praised far and wide. One day this beautiful horse disappeared. The people of his village offered sympathy to Sei Weng for his great misfortune. Sei Weng said simply, “That’s the way it is.”
A few days later the lost mare returned, followed by a beautiful wild stallion. The village congratulated Sei Weng for his good fortune. He said, “That’s the way it is.”
Some time after, Sei Weng’s only son, while riding the stallion, fell off and broke his leg. The village people once again expressed their sympathy at Sei Weng’s misfortune. Sei Weng again said, “That’s the way it is.”
Soon thereafter, war broke out and all the young men of the village except Sei Weng’s lame son were drafted and were killed in battle. The village people were amazed at Sei Weng’s good luck. His son was the only young man left alive in the village. But Sei Weng kept his same attitude: despite all the turmoil, gains and losses, he gave the same reply, “That’s the way it is.”
Obviously, the meaning of this story is that everything happens for a reason and things can’t be defined as “good” or “bad”. Life contentment is found by not attaching oneself to these external circumstances, as hard as it may be.
When things feel up in the air… return to the breath, the moment… and know that you are being supported by your higher power always.