Happiness seems in short supply these days. Whatever happiness we experience seems to be short-lived and dies out quickly, covered in dust by a cloud of negativity. The news is filled with endless reports about mass shootings, traumas, wars, scandals, diseases, and natural catastrophes. This has been going on since the beginning of humanity.
What’s a yogi to do?
It’s complicated. I believe that each of us must take personal account of what to do. There’s no one way or right way. But I do believe that doing nothing is less skillful than doing something. As Krishna guides Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, “inaction” is still an action. We can’t not act. From the Tantric perspective, we all have agency and our actions matter.
We can all make a difference by making ourselves happier.
When you feel happy, your frequency speeds up. Negative thinking, catastrophic thinking, pessimism, doubt, unworthiness, resignation, and all kinds of small-minded thought forms disappear. When you are happy, you literally raise the vibrational field around you. People tune into this on a subtle level beneath the conscious mind and everyone gets happier around you. The opposite is also true. When you’re miserable you make everyone else miserable around you. And misery loves company. So pretty quickly you draw a crowd of other nay-sayers.
Happiness gives you the power to remain positive, centered, and buoyant, even amid chaos. When your happiness is strong enough, you can stay in your center during very challenging times.
The yogi doesn’t want temporary happiness. The yogi wants permanent joy, permanent happiness, ultimate fulfillment.
We think to ourselves, “That’s impossible. I could never achieve that.” or “I’m not spiritual enough to deserve that.” My question to you is, “Who are you not to be worthy of complete happiness?” You are worthy to be happy because you’re alive. Happiness comes with the territory. It's your true nature, Satchitananda (truth, consciousness, and bliss). It’s what’s left over after you release what holds you back. It’s what remains after all self-doubt is gone. Even more accurately, you are already whole and complete even if there’s self-doubt and depression.
Pema Chödran tells us: “You are the sky. Everything else, well, that’s just the weather.”
How does one access this state of permanent happiness?
The key is found in the paradox of surrender and strength.
We need to learn how to surrender to the bigger energy, to grace, to the goddess and allow the current of love to carry us. At the same time we need to know when not to surrender. We need to stand strong in the face of our fears, doubts, worries, and sense of not enough-ness.
This requires incredible strength, faith, and belief that there’s something supremely valuable about our higher self. This higher self, or divine self, requires your full support and alignment. Otherwise, the negative forces, Vighnas, in Sanskrit, will sweep you off your feet and down you go into the well-greased downward spiral of resignation. When you give up, the negative forces will get the better of you. Then you find yourself stuck in old habits of self-destruction and self-pity that lead eventually to a state of helplessness.
In some ways we are helpless. In fact, one of the steps to healing and recovery is to recognize that we are helpless to change our old habits by ourselves. We need the support of higher teachings, a loving supportive community, and self-love.
Throughout June, as part of the Ashaya Yoga Membership's Summer of Happiness, we’ll explore the experience of happiness and inquire into:
What makes me happy?
What steals my joy away?
What am I willing to do to protect my joy?
What are the healthy self-boundaries I know I need to establish in order to maintain my happiness on a day-to-day basis?
What is happiness worth to me? Is it worth it to enough for me to release my negative attachments and what holds me back?
What can I let go of to clear the way for happiness to become my constant companion?
I’m so excited to explore this topic with you since I’ve been experiencing a heightened sense of happiness, fulfillment, unlimited possibility, and creative inspiration over the last 3 months due to a shift in my life that is moving me closer to what my heart most deeply desires.
I look forward to sharing these profound teachings with you. See you on the mat!
Todd and the Ashaya Yoga Team