This is a post that I started over the summer, but never finished. For some reason I felt compelled to complete it and post it today.
I am writing this post as I stare out my window at the snow covered trees and buildings that surround my one room cabin nestled deep in the Rocky Mountains. I have been spending two days at the Shoshoni Yoga Retreat. After a day of meditation, yoga and reflection in the peaceful, remote forest setting, I revisited some of the experiences from the day.
Earlier in the day, the yoga instructor opened the class with a statement about how the happiness that we seek is within us already. It is not somewhere outside that requires a certain set of circumstances in order to be realized. If we want to find it, we simply look within.
We tend to tie our happiness to extrinsic things, people or situations. We say that I will be happy if I get that new car or if my mate is in a good mood or if my boss doesn’t give me a hard time today.
In those scenarios, the happiness we feel is not from those things or those situations. It is drawn out from within us. We had it there all along. We just thought that we needed someone or something to help us pull it out.
If the happiness is already there, then we didn’t really need that external situation in order to feel the emotion. We could have just felt it on our own.
Try this simple exercise (This is something that I learned more recently at the 10 Day Vipassana Meditation Course):
Close your eyes and take a few minutes to focus your attention on your breath. Feel the breath coming in and out of your nostrils. Let any thoughts that come to your mind come and go. Don’t fight them and don’t follow them. Just notice them and let them pass. Once you are ready, bring a situation from your past to your attention that made you very happy. Don’t just see it, but be in that situation again. Feel the sensations in your body, hear the sounds that were around you and smell the scents that were in the air. Really be in that situation. Feel the happiness rise in your body and focus on that sensation. Give the sensation all your attention and energy and allow that feeling to grow. If you put yourself wholly in that situation, you will be able to feel that happiness fill your entire body.
What does this exercise prove? It proves that the happiness you seek is just a thought away.
Practice this exercise on a regular basis and learn to flex your happiness muscle. As you get better at this, you will find that you can perform this same exercise at any time you need it and not just when you are meditating.
By the way, this same exercise can work for any emotion that you want to feel; peace, love, contentment, etc.
I use this at the end of my daily meditation practice. I spend a minute or two on three different emotions; peace, love and happiness. It ends my meditation on a beautiful note and puts me in a pleasant state of mind to face the day.