by Gabrielle Harris April 17, 2015
Whatever your practices or beliefs may be, we all need reminders to help you lead a good life. Sanskrit is a language of vibration, meaning the energy is held in the words. By now we’re all familiar with OM, the sound of the universe, and Namaste, meaning the light in me honors the light in you. But there a few more lesser known Sanskrit words that can also help steer us toward our best selves.
We can instill the meaning of these words into our hearts and into our practice by repeating them to ourselves as mantras. Here are five simple Sanskrit words to live your life by:
1. Santosha: Contentment
“When all your desires are distilled
You will cast two votes
To love more and to be happy.” -Hafiz
Santosha is the practice of finding contentment or happiness, regardless of the external circumstances. Our habitual thought patterns often tell us what we don’t have is what we need, in order to bring us joy. However it is not long before we settle into dissatisfaction and begin to quickly search for something else to take its place.
That new watch gets scratched, the new lover has some faults, or the new job isn’t quite what you expected. So we want out of this moment and into the next — always searching and never truly happy or content.
Santosha is a the practice of remembering that what you have now is precious and transitory. Use this word daily to cultivate some gratitude to just who and what you already have.
2. Upeksha: Equanimity
“You are the sky, everything else is the weather.” -Pema Chodron
One definition of equanimity means to stand in the middle. The Buddha taught that we are constantly being pulled in different directions, either toward the things or people we desire, or away from the things or people we are averse to.
These emotions are our weather and the sky is our equanimity. To practice equanimity we must cultivate mindfulness, an awareness of when we are becoming the weather so that we are less jerked around by transitory thoughts. Use this word when you feel yourself being pulled into a riptide of thoughts that are not serving you.
3. Sraddha: Faith
We may not always know how our path is unfolding, so at times we might feel uncertain or stuck in life. Often we are unsure of where to go and how to make the right choice. Sometimes we may even sense a lack of purpose and not recognize our true calling. We might feel lost.
Sraddha is the inner, intuitive belief that you are walking steadily towards your life’s goals. It takes us away from our limited perception of reality to a more universal vision. Remember this word when you need to find courage to believe that everything about your journey is unfolding exactly as it should.
4. Bhavana: To cultivate
“Your mind is not a cage, it is a garden. And it requires cultivating.” -Libba Bray
This earthy word reminds us that for any plant to grow well, the health of the soil is most important. So we must look to nourish and nurture the soil (our minds) to provide an environment that will benefit us spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
To cultivate you must pull out the weeds, the most persistent, deeply ingrained ways of being and thinking, and plant the behaviors or ways of being that you want to bring into your life. That’s when you can begin to sow love, kindness, joy, happiness, humility, gratitude and peace.
5. Satya: Truth and honesty
“To believe in something and not live it is dishonest.”-Gandhi
The beauty in this word lies in the effect it can have on our lives. If we live in accordance with our truth, then our life will be freer of suffering. If everything that we think, say, feel and act on is leading us toward our higher path, then this the practice of Satya.
To know what your “truth” is, you will need to sit quietly with yourself and ask in honesty: In what way is my moral compass pointing? What is the purpose for my existence? Then, you try to live in accordance with the answer.
Cut out the lies you may tell yourself and stop listening to what other people say or do or think of you. Stand tall and strong in your belief of how to live a good life. That’s when you’ll notice that gossip and comparison stops. You will also stop seeking answers. If you are truthful about your shortcomings and where you have messed up, it will only help you grow.
It is when we look at all the parts of ourselves without judgment, that we are comfortable with our whole. We drop all the guilt and shame. We acknowledge that who we are right now and in any given moment is perfectly OK.