Yoga Alliance, US-RYS 200, 500
Today I was sitting by the Ganga again, meditating on happiness and how come I am becoming happier and happier here in spite of unchanged circumstances? What is happiness and how can we maximize our lives to become as happy as possible? The biggest obstacle in achieving happiness seems to be misinterpretation of the nature of it. We tend to think of happiness as some sort of external blessing or independently existing condition; as if suddenly a DHL delivery guy would be knocking on my door, handing over a box of happiness:”Please, sign here Ms. Wickman!”.
It’s also very often (as we believe subconsciously) linked to some sort of achievement or change of external circumstances: ”Once I get promoted, once I get married, once I go on vacation, once I God-only-knows-what…” However, once we get promoted, get married, go on vacation etc. we are often left with a feeling of emptiness, of ”mission accomplished” and psychological gratification, but not happiness.
Thinking on happiness, I realized that my reason for increased happiness in Rishikesh is mainly due to the amount of authentic moments experienced here. Real meetings with friends and strangers alike. Intimacy, not in the sexual way but in the emotional, psychological and spiritual way. I believe yoga to be very helpful in creating a life filled with happiness, because in order to experience authentic moments and expose yourself to intimacy, you need first to embrace your own light and your own shadow. Through yoga, we are taken by the hand and led back to our cores and through meditation we learn to be still in the moment – which is where happiness lives! The present is the only door that leads to happiness – all the other doors down the corridor of life are locked and barred!
Happiness is not a destination or an achievement, but a way of living each moment with full attention. I used to cook while talking on the phone and glancing at my laptop. Was I present in the conversation? No. Present in the cooking? No. We are taught to believe that happiness has to be bombastic and spelled out with capital letters and accompanied by fireworks… but happiness is almost always in the humble, unexpected moments and it is all about your own state of mind in that moment– not about what is actually happening!
Today I read a quote which really touched me: ”Imagine if you lost everything you have today… how happy you would be for getting it back!”. Think about it; your lover, your friends, your family, your house, job, health… what would you give to get it back if you lost it right now? Probably a great deal!
Yesterday, I had a 24 hour migraine and when I woke up this morning I realized that happiness at that moment was to not be in pain. Many people who are told that they have a serious disease, actually admit that it has transformed their lives in the most amazing way, because all of a sudden the present becomes so precious. Whether three months, six months a year… but all of a sudden death brings the attention to life and the meaning of it. But we must remember that we are all dying, we just don’t know when. I may have a month left, a decade or seven decades… but sooner or later I will disappear but before I go, I want to have a mental album of authentic moments to marvel at, when I’m old and wrinkled and my legs too weak for walking. Memories of people whose faces and voices are carved into my heart forever. Happiness to me is not to be ever smiling, but to have been touched and moved and fully connected to this amazing thing we call life.
Asana Teacher & Naturopath