|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 376 ]
Discontent, a peculiarity human characteristic, has become the biggest undiagnosed mental disease of mankind today. Observing the typical Westerner, this 'insanity' is all-too apparent.
The mental attention of most people today cannot be held for very long at all. The average person has become consumed in a pattern of relentless need for stimulation of the mind, constantly moving from one activity to the next, continuously seeking one new source of stimulation after another.
Even if one manages to actually sit still for a brief time, the mind continues to race -- it seeks perpetual activity, be it television, reading, talking, listening to music, fantasizing, calculating, etc, etc. If a brief moment of down-time occurs, the average person feels a desperate sense of unease and again immediately seeks some form of external stimulation.
This cannot in any way be considered 'sane'. We are, all of us to one degree or another, slaves to our unruly desires -- in an unremitting state of discontent -- we've truly become insane! This prompts the wise yogi's adage, "don’t just do something... sit there!"
However, simply forcing oneself to sit quietly and concentrate for a few moments from time to time does not severe the roots of discontent. The removal of desire from the conscious mind at any particular time, does not itself suggest that one has become 'desire-less.'
There may be innumerable desires at the level of the subconscious mind, some quite strong and very hidden. When desires are buried deep within the sub-consciousness, then a general sense of discontent is felt -- a state which much of today's society can sympathize with.
Therefore, consistent feelings of malaise or general, 'undefined discontent', is a good barometer of deep, unseen, subconscious desires. Perfection in santosha, a cultivation of genuine contentment, can only come with the complete elimination of these deep-seated desires...
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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