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Acceptance in Yoga, Golf & Life

What do we really mean when we talk about acceptance ?

It is a word that is used a lot in Yoga and it is also spoken about in golf , when talking about golf mindset and the mental side of the game.

In Yoga acceptance is spoken about in one of the Sutras.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are a collection of verses that serve as a guide to attain wisdom and self-realisation through yoga, written in the second century BC. These verses of wisdom offer guidelines for living a meaningful and purposeful life.

Patanjali said that when we’re in harmony with nature and ourselves, the path will become smooth – yoga is the smooth – and the Sutras explain how yoga can help us live in this world in a harmonious, conscious way.

One of these verses talk of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, which include Yamas and Niyamas, the basis and foundation of all yoga practice.

The second Niyama is Santosha, but what does Santosha mean?

Santosha is derived from the Sanskrit sam, meaning “completely” or “altogether,” and tosha, meaning “contentment” or “acceptance." Altogether, it may be translated as "complete contentment."

Santosha or ‘contentment’ doesn’t mean idly sitting back and relinquishing the need to do anything. It simply means accepting and appreciating what we have and what we are already, and moving forwards from there.

There is so much to be gained once we start to practice acceptance. Acceptance is not about giving up, or using it as a reason not to do something. It is about accepting the outcome, removing fear, and about learning to accept that , that we can not change.

On the mat it is about accepting what our body can and cannot do, especially as we age, and arthritis starts to creep into our joints there are somethings that become a physical impossibility, but rather than dwell on what we can not do, we focus on what we can do .

On the golf course learning acceptance is key to be able to play well. Accepting the outcome of a shot, and not taking that with you to the next shot is a vital part of the mental game. So many rounds are ruined by not accepting the bad shot that occurs, and instead of moving on , the anger or upset caused by the shot follows us around the course and causes many more bad shots ! If we can learn to stand over the ball and accept the outcome we will learn to swing more freely and without fear.

In life acceptance of things we can not change is also very important. This was brought home to me this weekend, after the heart breaking decision about putting Bobby ( my dog) to sleep. Death is a very hard thing to deal with and we all grieve in our own way. From personal experience I know that learning to accept the situation makes grieving less painful, it doesnt go away, but acceptance is a great help.

I also think acceptance is about learning which battles we fight in life. There are certain things we just can not change, and when we learn to accept things we can not change , even though we may not like them, it can help to bring us greater inner peace.

Santosha is about contentment , to me that is about inner peace, feeling calm, learning to deal with what life throws our way, and to stay in the present moment in peace.

Taking to our yoga mat , and finding our santosha provides us with a great building block for taking acceptance and contentment into every other area of our life.

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