I recently taught a morning sadhana practice and I felt a special energy in the air. I sensed the students and myself entering a sacred space of stillness which was mesmerizing. I began the class with, “The usual way we think about happiness is that we need happiness, or we need more happiness in our lives."
But have you ever considered that happiness needs you?
Take a deep breath, open to your life, and consider the notion that happiness needs you. Yes, happiness needs you. Happiness needs you to be present, to stay with yourself even during times of conflict. Consider the earth element. One of the qualities of the earth is steadiness. How can you be steady in happiness? How can you not run away or distract yourself? How can you not shy away even in conflict?
In conflict, happiness is concealed. If we cover up conflict, deny it, compensate for it, or try to hide from it, we miss the lesson. We miss the opportunity to learn and grow ourselves.
Remember that everything in life is for our awakening.
Happiness is hiding behind every experience we have. Consider that every experience is another doorway to happiness. You can either close, lock, and run away from this doorway, or you can turn toward it, open the door slowly to see what’s behind it, be curious, and enter.
Always, when we turn toward ourselves, when we’re there for ourselves, steady in ourselves, happiness is there.
The earth element is about being loyal to ourselves. As soon as we judge ourselves, we’ve broken the bond of loyalty. Being highly critical of ourselves, staying stuck in regret, and all the various ways we self-sabotage our happiness are rooted in the single act of going away, not staying present.
I recently ended what I thought was going to be a great relationship. As it turns out, we just weren’t compatible. I felt the grief that comes when a love relationship doesn’t work out and I was so tempted to run away, distract myself, or push away the grief.
But I didn’t. I remembered the power of staying present to my feelings. As I allowed myself to breathe and be with the pain in my heart, I noticed my heart beginning to bounce back. As I stayed steady in the storm of feelings, I came home to myself. I held myself, reached out to friends, and received the support of the universe. I came home to my consistent practice of yoga and meditation which helped me tap into the deep healing energy of source.
Insights emerged, lessons, learnings, things I will do differently next time – I learned all kinds of things from this experience. In being steady with myself, I was able to feel my own love, my own longing for happiness from the inside, the kind of happiness that is sourced from deep in my core. I started to feel the powerful love of grace, of my community, and of the universe. Grief takes as much time as it takes. But if you can allow it to be present, then it flows through more easily, leaving in its wake deep gratitude and love.
Today I invite you to move toward yourself. Happiness needs you. Become solid like a rock of support for yourself, for your heart. The heart is so vulnerable. It closes down easily because it’s sensitive. It doesn’t want pain. Can you be with yourself even in pain? It’s not easy. To be with yourself in conflict or in pain, you need the steadiness of the earth to be able to remain calm in the chaos, steady in the storm.
All lack of happiness is because we’ve gone away. We’ve moved away from the moment. We left the possibility because we’re filled with doubt. We think, “There’s no way I can get happy now. I’m such a failure. I’m unworthy. I can’t do it. I’m lacking. I’m not enough.” Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.
Let go of perfectionism. Perfection is a fantasy. It doesn’t exist. It’s an escape hatch.
One technique that really helps to stay in the present moment during times of stress is to breathe. When you take long deep breaths you turn on the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), the "rest and digest" nervous system. When the PNS is turned on, you stay steady as a mountain in the present moment because suddenly there’s no danger. You’re safe. You don’t have to run or fight.
PNS disarms worry and anxiety that comes from limbic living – living from the limbic brain, the old brain, which operates in survival only mode. Its only language is fight, flight, or freeze. This is a high adrenaline, high stress, non-sustainable, no peace at all, no calm mode of consciousness state. It stresses out the body and over time, under this kind of pressure, the body will break down.
When you enter the present moment, happiness is yours. Take it.
Then you start to experience joy, a kind of bliss, Ananda, that arises from the depths of the ocean. It’s not the rise and fall of the waves on the surface of the ocean. It’s much deeper than that.
Do you want to be a buoy or an anchor? The buoy simply bobs up and down with no purpose or direction. The anchor permits the ups and downs of the buoy but maintains steadiness and keeps you connected to your heart. I say go with the anchor.
Being completely steady in happiness requires practice. Ashaya Morning Sadhana is the practice, the formal practice of happiness.
May you anchor yourself in the present moment, the earth element, and stay centered in all storms of life such that you experience more and more inner peace, steadiness, calm, and happiness!
I hope to see you on the mat soon online or live in person to expand your happiness!
Todd and the Ashaya Yoga Team