I'll be happy when...

    I was listening to an audiobook called ‘The Wisdom of Groundhog Day’ and one of the striking messages of the book is that if we spent as much time looking after our inner world as we did on our outer world we might have a very different [more positive] situation.


    I was also listening to the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show. A lady phoned up about the tax evasion debate and posed an interesting question: “How much money do we need anyway? After a certain amount of money there is only so much you can do and it can’t give you happiness.’


    I’m sure we all know someone who on paper seems to ‘have it all’ and yet their goal posts still seem to keep moving. For me this is the idea of postponing happiness. I think we can all relate to the idea that we have felt that once a certain goal had been achieved that was the turning point that we would then be happy. And maybe we were. But then a new goal is set and we focus all our attention on achieving that goal and so it goes on.  It is so seductive. For whilst we busy ourselves with longing for the next goal to be achieved, we miss out on the beauty of now. In an acutely goal-orientated world, we deny ourselves the joy of the journey and the present. In our autopilot society, we need yoga and mindfulness to re-focus us on what truly contributes to our happiness. I recommend taking some time out to work out what things truly make you happy. When I did this, I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the things I wrote down were free but required time and those that did cost money weren’t extortionate, for example watching the passing clouds, coloured tissue paper, holding one of my pet chickens. 


    Once you have this knowledge, you can really start to work out how you can change your life to make it more focused on now and less about the past or the future. Certainly we all have barriers to allowing ourselves to achieve a more present lifestyle but unpicking those is a fascinating and worthwhile journey. Being able to re-focus your mind and take action to live more in line with what brings you most fulfillment is perhaps the greatest gift that money can’t buy.


    There are some principles in the yogic tradition which support the idea that happiness already exits within us we just have to tap into it through living more- you might say- graciously. Interestingly though, these principles take more effort to cultivate than buying something might do yet they can produce more lasting rewards that can change your happiness perspective. Two of the five yamas (disciplines) include asteya (non-stealing) and aparigrapha (non-hoarding). Asteya can also mean not accumulating more wealth than we need. Aparigrapha is similar to asteya and develops trust in life by believing what you need will come your way. Since a lot of people’s perceived happiness revolves around achieving material goals, we can see that actually letting go of these things and developing trust in life/ caring for others/ the environment are far more powerful ways of gaining mindful and lasting happiness.


    The next time you think you need something more, look at what you already have and really savour sensually the ‘beauty’ of it. You may reevaluate whether you really do need more or whether if you change your perspective, you realise the truth that you are already complete. 


    Being open to the wisdom of others...

    I was walking home yesterday when I bumped into a lovely man I know. As usual when you ask someone how they are, he replied he was fine with his trademark smile and kind eyes. But once we passed the social etiquette of always being ‘fine’, he spoke a bit deeper about some troubles he was having in his personal life.


    When crisis strikes, how do we know which path to follow? How do we know which decisions lead us to the ‘right’ choices? We both agreed with a laugh: if only we could see into the future! Then we talked some more and he commented he believes everything happens for a reason and so he was trying to make the best of things and keep an open mind. He said a very interesting thing to me: people before us would have had the same problems as we have and people in the future would also encounter these difficulties. The emotions of fear, love, jealousy, anger are the same today as they were 500 years ago but still we fret over them. The setting nowadays is different but the feelings aren’t.


    So with that in mind, I entered into my own yoga practice today which consisted of: Energy Block Release 4, Paschimottanasana (sitting forward bend) and Garudasana (eagle posture) with Makrasana (crocodile) at the end to let everything settle.

    Energy block release 4 generates inner strength and high self-esteem. It is useful for when are at a point in your life when you need to build courage and reassurance in your abilities, hopes and dreams. Sitting forward bend helps to let go of fear and enhance courage. For me personally, it reinforces the cyclical nature of things the sun coming up, its rays spreading across the land and the sun setting again. From this asana we can gather strength and have faith in a bigger force in life. Eagle posture helps to focus us on the path to take. It helps to attune us into our heart and listen to its wisdom. So often other’s expectations impact on what we think we should do rather than what we know to be of value to us and in line with our deep connection with who we are. Crocodile at the end of the session just helps to bring everything into alignment and awareness of relaxing diaphragmatic breathing is enhanced.


    At a time when I am starting a new business and at a time of year when so much potential and possibility lie ahead, my advice is to listen to your heart. When I completed the Eagle posture there were several things that signposted clearly for me:


    • Focus on the present
    • Do what makes you happy
    • Let go of the ‘how’


    In yoga, we are reminded to be present in the moment but how easy it is to be swept away worrying about what has been or what might be. As I finish this blog article for today please reflect on the quote below and see what you have to be grateful for in your life right now. Consider whether gratitude changes your perspective about anything that is worrying you and any decisions you are making:


    “When you are grateful, abundance appears and fear disappears.” 


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