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Yoga and the Inner Alchemy of True Happiness: Aligning with Your Heart’s Deepest Desire

person holding up hands in shape of a heart at a beach sunset

 

True happiness is sourced in self-love.

 

Love is the essence of everything. If you can find your way back to loving yourself, and I mean loving everything about yourself – embracing shadow and light, perfection and imperfection – then happiness will expand and grow within you.

 

Happiness blossoms from the roots of self-love. We need to ask ourselves if we’re nourishing our roots or poisoning them?

 

In all honesty, when I look at myself, I do both. I nourish and poison them. Poisoning the roots of self-love takes many forms. For me it usually involves self-doubt, feelings of lack, not enough-ness, or unworthiness. It’s my habit of self-diminishment which I can trace back to my childhood. I’m working on it.

 

Other ways we poison our roots are through stress and overwhelm, worrying about every little thing, being overly controlling, perfectionistic, or taking on a doom and gloom perspective, which is easy to do with all of the suffering and unimaginable pain in the world today.


gnarled roots of a tree

 

Closing down the heart, which is sometimes necessary to protect ourselves, can also add to poisoning the roots of self-love because with a closed heart, we stop receiving the gifts of life. We inwardly resign and start to side with the victim within. Instead of seeing that challenges only come when we’re ready to rise up, we crumble under the weight of our struggles.

 

It takes a strong heart to continue to fight the good fight, to not give up on ourselves or on life.

 

It's not that we must try to always live with an open heart and nourish our roots 24/7. That would be unreasonable. That’s not the issue. The real issue is are you resilient? Can you embrace your fears and challenges and not give up?

 

We get knocked down in life. And some of us get knocked down many times. The real question is, are you willing to get back up? Can you disentangle from your disappointments and unmet expectations and pull yourself out of the rubble? Can you come up for air and see the reality beyond your conditioning? Can you occasionally separate the curtains around your heart and truly see what is? If you can, then this is yoga.

 

Yoga is being willing to come out of hiding behind your conditioning, patterns of doubt, unworthiness, or patterns of giving up on the goodness of life. When you give up on goodness, in a sense you’ve crossed over to the dark side.


owl peeking out of a tree hole

Hiding won’t stop healing altogether, but it does postpone it. Standing in the light means that you’re willing to not know, willing to be vulnerable, willing to stop trying to change the unchangeable, repair the unrepairable. It means stepping more fully into the greatness that you already are, that we all are.

 

The source of all suffering is related to wanting what we don’t have or having what we don’t want. 

 

We either cling and get attached or we try to push it away. Desire (raga) and aversion (dvesha) are really two sides of the same coin – trying to source happiness outside of ourself. Happiness is an inside job. It can only come through alignment with our heart.

 

To build a love that endures through upsets, betrayals, and woundedness, I believe we need to consider aligning in these three ways: with our heart, with life, and with others, in that order.

 

There’s no chance for lasting happiness if you don’t listen to your heart’s deepest desire and then follow it. And if your heart’s desire does not align with your highest good in life, then perhaps that’s not your truest desire. When you find your deepest desire in your heart, it will always guide you to what’s best for life.

 

This is true because serving and aligning with life is what brings us joy at the deepest level.

 

Aligning with your heart and with life will automatically be the best for others. But turning it around and putting others’ needs before your own, will never bring true happiness.

 

It’s called fawning. Our nervous system has 4 stress responses: fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. Fawning is described as putting other people’s needs above our own, meaning we source our happiness by pleasing others.  


People pleasing is not anything new. That’s kind of been my default setting my whole life. I’ve been a people-pleaser. It wasn’t until I had my “great spiritual awakening” (which you can read more about in my memoir), that I let go of putting others before myself and started to really value my own feelings, needs, longings, and purpose.

 

When you live authentically from your heart, you will disappoint others, including those closest to you. I certainly did that when I let go of my fellowship master’s degree program in jazz composition and education and moved into a yoga ashram! I disappointed my professors, my parents, and my family.

 

If you aren’t regularly disappointing others, who might you be regularly disappointing? Exactly! Yoga makes space for you first, then life, then others.

 

When you are in touch with your heart’s deepest desire – with what lights you up, with what (or who) makes you happy and excited about life, with what makes you feel like a million bucks, like you’re on the top of the world – and when you align that desire with life’s highest good – meaning that life gets better all around you, that you uplift life and make life more beautiful – then it will automatically support others and be in the highest good for them.


person standing with arms raised on a mountaintop looking at the sunrise

What’s painful about this is that others may feel disappointed in you. Their dreams might be crushed by your decision. But when you’re in alignment with your heart and with life, you just have to trust that it's in their best interest too. Instead of enabling someone’s self-destructive patterns by caving in to their needs, you put up a healthy self-boundary that serves everyone.

 

Happiness does not come from enabling others to hide and not do their deep spiritual work. We are all here to do our spiritual work whether we know it or not. We need to trust that the choices we make for our own heart in the end are the best ways we can serve the heart of others in their journey to unbreakable wholeness.


This type of happiness, rooted in self-love, needs to be nourished to grow strong. Getting connected to a loving, supportive, and practicing yogic community of heart followers like Ashaya is one of the best ways to nourish the roots of happiness. If you’re not already a member, I lovingly invite you to join!

 

May you reflect deeply on this teaching and do some journal writing to help you see where you could nourish your roots of self-love even more, and perhaps let go of ways you sometimes poison them. Then with the greatest self-compassion, choose to rise up.

 

May you progress in the inner alchemy of happiness by aligning with your heart first, then life, and then others. I offer you all of my love and support on your journey to greater happiness!

 

Namaste,

 

Todd



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