Saturday, October 25, 2014

Deep Thoughts: Yoga and Happiness

Today I went to yoga.  I have slowly started incorporating it into my life again.  The last time I went I was 21 years old, six months from graduating from college, and experiencing great turmoil with all the change taking place in my life.  This time, I'm going to do something for me, something to help make me happy and relaxed.  

I've been thinking of happiness this week, and when I'm in yoga those thoughts spring up too: how to be happy.  I'm finding happiness in my life in unexpected ways: by making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, by setting writing goals AGAIN, and by trying to find contentment and purpose in my every day existence.  I feel so much of life slips away from us while we're staring at our cell phone screen.  So much time simply flies by because we get caught up in trivial problems, and we let them overtake us.  Sometimes we don't meet our true potential, because we are scared of achievement, of putting ourselves out there, and of just doing what we know would truly bring us the greatest happiness and sense of purpose. We are paralyzed by a sense of powerlessness, even though we all have with in us an ability to change our own outcome for the better.  

During yoga, I concentrate on my breathing: in and out, in and out.  I listen to the rhythm my breath makes.  I try to concentrate on the breath, and I usually see it as colors: inhale/red, exhale/blue.  My mind feels free and the tension washes away.  Afterwards, I feel utterly calm and happy.  When my usual smile stretches across my face it feels genuine; it's not just a mask for other hidden feelings.  Wouldn't it be amazing to feel that way every day?  
But, as I read in an article earlier this week, happiness is fleeting and it's meant to be that way.  Humans have an intense want to make temporary things permanent.  They catch onto a feeling that made them feel so wonderful, and they want to feel it over and over again, instead of experiencing it and then letting it go, enjoying the memory, but not wanting to re-live the same moment indefinitely.   

The other day at the dinner table, Number One and I were talking about this, and I said, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if you only felt joy?"  

And he said, wise beyond his nine years, "But Mom, then you wouldn't know what it was because you'd never have felt sorrow."  

And he's so right.  Without sorrow, would joyfulness be less joyful?  Would joy even exist?  

Sometimes after Shavasana, instead of feeling intensely happy, I feel an intense need to cry. I think this is from releasing into the meditation, from letting things go, the need to cry is a physical manifestation of the tension melting away.  Sorrow and happiness all melted into one, like a littmus lozenge (from Because of Winn Dixie).  The feeling is bitter sweet, the letting go of things you carry is hard, because sometimes as you let go you feel like you've lost a part of yourself.  

I believe the key to happiness is living in the moment.  Not looking to the past.  Not looking to the future, but simply being aware of your emotions, being aware of yourself, and living your life in a way that you can accept what has happened, what will happen, and being aware of the inability to change what you can't control.  Setting goals, and realizing you dictate your own future, can help too.  So many people wallow in their sorrow.  They don't find a way to dig out.  They aren't aware of the power inside of them to reach their goals and to live a life that will make them happy.  I, myself, am guilty of this: wondering why I can't get where I want to, but often not taking the action to make a positive change.  Without action, no change can occur: negative or positive.  Why not take the risk?  Without the risk, there can be no chance of failure, but there's also no chance of success.

Find something that makes you happy: be it yoga, reading, Zumba, talking to a friend for hours on the phone, or chasing after your giggling children, who live for today, and don't think about what tomorrow will bring.  Fleeting moments in time.

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