Todd at EsalenGreetings! Can you feel the promise of spring? I can. Even though there’s still snow on the ground and it’s still cold out, the sun is higher in the sky and the bird songs are getting louder.

I want to share with you an insight I had while teaching at Esalen Institute last month. The insight has to do with how yoga is about getting healthy. In addition to gaining physical health–which is the foundation for living in joy-mental and emotional health is vitally important.

Last month at Esalen

Tantra tells us that our true nature is freedom and that the true nature of freedom is bliss. Whenever pain stops or diminishes and you become free from pain, bliss is what follows. Bliss, in the most basic sense, is the experience of moving from pain to no pain. Any amount of release from suffering is always accompanied by a release of tension, which is characterized by some form of increased happiness or bliss.

When I was cross-country skiing during the frigid weather a few weeks ago, I began to experience numbness in my fingers and toes after only being out for 15 minutes. When the numbness began to spread to my arms and legs, I realized I needed to sprint back to the lodge to warm up. I’ll never forget the relief I felt when I made it back to the lodge and began to thaw out. I went from suffering to non-suffering. Bliss was the resultant emotion.

You need to nurture joy in order to experience it. Joy is natural. But due to fear and other self-limiting beliefs, joy is buried under a pile of suffering. This suffering can take the form of self-doubt, self-hatred, confusion, judgment, hopelessness, loneliness, anger, resentment, or depression. Think of joy as a plant. In order to be healthy, the plant needs nourishment to grow. Like a delicate flower, joy will wither and die without the right environment.

Like the flower, our lives depend on nourishment. I’ve identified 13 basic “vitamins” in life that we need to give ourselves on a regular basis in order to sustain and maintain our joy. These vitamins might seem obvious, but it’s rare that we ever give ourselves this level of nourishment. These 13 categories generate a well-rounded, well-adjusted connection to life and are the seeds that, when nourished, lead to happiness, permanent joy, and the fulfillment of your life-destiny path in the world.

The first vitamin is having an empowering philosophy of life. An empowering philosophy is a philosophy that always guides you back to your own heart where you recognize that in the deepest part of your self, you are already whole and complete. You need a philosophy that can hold and accept the paradox of being human and divine, limited and unlimited; a philosophy that honors your unique gifts and understands the powerful role of the ego and the unique contribution you have to offer the world. By ego, I mean your individual self that is aligned with the universal energy in service of the light within all beings.

An empowering philosophy is one that is non-prejudice and honors the whole of life in all of its diversity; that holds space for the full spectrum of life: pain and joy, darkness and light, good and bad, love and hate, success and failure. Your philosophy teaches you to embrace all that is. without losing your identification with the universal supreme power behind all things.

In addition, an empowering philosophy teaches that everything in life is for your awakening. This is the attitude of the yogi. With this attitude, nothing can get you down and keep you down for very long. Yes, we fall. But choosing to believe in the goodness of life and that life really does have your back, we can grow, change, and stand up tall once again because we know that everything in life is for our awakening…..

I look forward to sharing the remaining 12 “vitamins” in the coming newsletters. I hope you’ll join me in contemplating how each vitamin occurs for you and impacts your life. Here is a list of contemplations to consider:

  1. How does this vitamin show up for me in my life?
  2. Do I have a self-empowering philosophy? Is it fulfilling? Inspiring? Uplifting?
  3. Do I have enough of this vitamin? Too much of this vitamin?
  4. How could I increase the dosage of this vitamin in my every day life? What activities could I engage in to support the blossoming and expansion of this vitamin in my life? What activities that have been limiting or self-sabotaging could I decrease or stop to allow this vitamin to grow?
  5. What would the possibility be for my life if I were to nourish myself more fully with this vitamin? How could I serve myself better? How could I serve my loved ones better? How could I serve all of life better?

I wish you a glorious spring! May you nourish the light of your heart and grow into your potential to become who the universe has made you to be. I hope to see you at an upcoming workshop or training to support the opening and blossoming of your heart.