One of my students gave me a copy of the Dalai Lama’s The Art of Happiness. In the early parts of the book, the idea that for many western cultures the idea of achieving happiness seems unattainable (like climbing the 141 steps at Mohegan Bluffs in Block Island) or achievable by luck. The word “happy” is derived from the Icelandic word happ, meaning luck or chance. I think many of us think that being happy is luck or we think “I will be happy when or if I have X (money, new life partner, better job…)”. That our happiness is dependent on something or someone else. The Dalai Lama talks about training our minds to be happy. He does not mean in terms of intellect or cognitive ability, but in the sense of spirit. The Tibetan word for happy is Sem and is translated more like psyche or spirit. He discusses pinpointing things that lead us to suffering and those that lead to happiness. If we start eliminating those triggers that cause us suffering and cultivate those that lead to happiness, we are on the right path.
Meditation - Finding Happiness
For many of us, the suggestions above will prove a difficult task. I suppose if it were easy the world would be a very different place. I have been thinking a lot about this challenge and am considering how to start. The things that cause us suffering could be large challenges like toxic relationships or destructive habits. As I contemplate this I think perhaps incorporating things that spawn happiness perhaps may be an easier first step in this challenge. Perhaps over the next week focus on something that makes you happy and try to accommodate it into your every day. My happy place is at the beach, even better if it includes some exercise (riding around Block Island on bikes) and sharing it with friends or Pete and a good book.
“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” Dalai Lama
Our Practice - Ananda Balasana – Happy Baby
What Pose is happier than Happy Baby? This week in class we will try the traditional pose as well as some variations. If the rest of the practice goes likes this morning’s did, I guarantee we will laugh like little kids and perhaps spark some happiness.
One tip that I like to include when cueing this pose is to flatten your lower back on the mat with sit bones pointing toward the front of the room, not the ceiling. This can help release the SI joint and promote low back health.
The physical benefits of the pose include hip opening and low back stretching. Mobility in the hips is improved, the hamstrings are gently stretched, and the low back and SI join are released and decompressed. The gentle rocking gives the back a little massage and can help relieve back pain. Additionally, the rocking motion can encourage the release of serotonin and dopamine (and can make us giggle as we pretend to be babies) resulting in a powerful calming effect and perhaps sparking some joy.
Below is an article that discusses the pose, its benefits and how to do it with some modifications and variations.
Nurturing with Food – Ramen Vegan Bowl
Many of you know that eating is one of my favorite past times, and, speaking of happiness, good food makes me very happy. My friend Pat and I were just enjoying a delicious lunch on the beach the other day agreeing that we both plan our days around what we are going to eat! One of my mottos is that life is too short to eat bad food (or drink crappy wine)! Almost nothing makes me happier than asking my husband (yes he cooks a lot), “what is for dinner?”, and have him tell me
"Vegan Ramen Bowl”. Pure joy!!
The recipe below is one that he has perfected over the past couple of years and is on our website. Pete makes it both with seafood, an egg or vegan, very easy to adjust! If you try it, let me know if it makes you happy!
See you on the mat!