Category Archives: happiness

happiness always


photo by Ben Heine.

My gratitude for life overwhelms me sometimes. I find myself crying tears of joy that this is my life now, that I am happy. I am happy. I felt so continuously bad about myself for so long that I really did not think happiness was possible for me. And now my happiness can stay present even in the darkness.

If you want to be sad, no one in the world can make you happy. But if you make up your mind to be happy, no one and nothing on earth can take that happiness from you… Happiness comes, not by helplessly wishing for it, but by dreaming, thinking, and living it in all circumstances. — Paramahansa Yogananda

The key to happiness is having it in all circumstances, when things are going your way and when you wish you could fast forward through a painful experience. Be happy for it all, the dark and the light for both make up our joy. They are all our teachers.

My happiness started small. For a long time, it only expanded the width of my yoga mat but over time it grew. I slowly began to recognize my worth and let go of the people who did not value me and did not treat me well. I spent a lot of evenings alone, reading and practicing yoga, getting to know and understand myself. I did not realize that this solitude gave me the tools I needed to go within and find the happiness that was inside me all along. It gave me the space to meet wonderfully kind and loving people once I fully understand how to be my own happiness.

I can never regret my years of unhappiness because it led me to some of the things that I love the most: my work in the mental health field, my yoga and meditation practice, and my writing. I will never know how my life would have been if I had heard good things about myself at an early age, if someone had believed in me and told me how capable and worthy I was. That was not my story or my journey; I had to find those things on my own. It brings me so much joy to be able to tell you those things. I want you to know how capable you are. I want you to know how lovable you are. I want you to know that you are enough.

The only person you ever need to be enough for is yourself. That’s actually the only person you can ever be enough for because that is something we are each responsible for in our lives. You don’t need to impress people. You don’t need to let what others think of you bring you down. You don’t need to live for others. You don’t need to worry about their expectations. Those are their expectations. Let them live their life. Just be yourself and do your best and at the end of each day let go and start again with that same intention.

–lissa

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Love until all we are is love…

If we are to reach real people in this world… we shall go from love to love and peace to peace until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which consciously or unconsciously the whole world is hungering. — Gandhi

Is the whole world simply longing for peace and love? How do we go about covering the world with peace and love? Should it start with each individual? If each person had a strong sense of love and peace in the world within them than surely this, in turn, would create a different world around them.

Let’s start small big with you and me. Let’s do something to claim our peace and love today. Things we can do:

1. Read inspiring quotes like this one:

My love, he is here inside. He does not leave, He doesn’t need to arrive. — Mirabai.

Know that you never have to go far to feel love. All you have to do is go within.

2-6. Sing. Dance. Sweat. Laugh. Be creative.

7. Write:

I want a peace poem to exist within the spaces between our breath. I want our love to merge into a living breathing artform and our insides to vibrate sonnet-like love. I want to love until all we are is love…

I want to tag the moon and have it play chase with me all night. Imagine what the moon must feel like: majestic velvet expansiveness.  I want to be that. I want to lean into the moon, the trees, the beauty surrounding me and find out their secret. How are you happy? Why are you glowing when there is so much loss all around you and embedding you? Maybe they would whisper back, it’s simple, my love. Let go and love.


 

8. Release something holding you back: judgments, fears, emotions, the past.

I’ve learned that even when I feel sad, I don’t have to become sad.

Honor who you are in each moment. Be aware of how you feel but know that your emotions, fears, and judgments are not you. Emotions are meant to fluctuate and change. Observe them, recognize them, validate them, and then let them go. Meditation is the best tool to use to develop this process of awareness and surrendering.

If you would like to learn more about this, check out an enlightening article by Sally Kempton about letting go of sadness.

9. Pay yourself compliments often. Treat yourself to something you love whether that’s silence, a sports game, music, dessert, company, nature… Reward yourself every day with little things for the little things are in actuality the big things.

10. Practice Yoga. To truly embrace love, we need to know that sometimes, most of the time actually, our heart needs to lead the way. We need to trust that our heart is strong enough to stay open in the face of love as well as the opposites of love. You cannot protect yourself from fear/rejection/hate/abandonment without protecting yourself from love too. We think we’re safer by closing up when, in reality, the more open we are, the less we suffer. That is because being open indicates the practice of letting go and letting go is love.

If I’m feeling blocked and want to create the space to open up a part of me that is closed, I’ll come onto my mat and come into either a supported setu bandha sarvanagasana/bridge pose (block under my sacrum) or a supported matsyasana/fish pose (block long ways between my shoulder blades and another block under the bottom of my head; option: not to have the block under the head if no neck issues) and breathe through the space where I feel closed. A mantra you can use is a beautiful one I saw on @GaneshBaba’s twitter page: “Breathe in abundance; breathe out surrender.”

11. Help others.

–lissa

top photo: by ilsebatten.

bottom photo by risquillo.

What is YIOM?


Manifest Your Life


I went to a Manifest Your Life yoga workshop in New York City with Jennifer Pastiloff, a phenomenal Los Angeles-based yoga teacher. I first discovered Jennifer after reading her moving article about fear in Elephant Journal.

I have had few yoga experiences that felt as complete as this workshop. It was the perfect blend of guidance and independence, meditation and asana, and humor and intensity. It’s rare that I find a class where we do pranayama exercises, inversions, meditation, arm balances, twists, back bends, and flow and truly go deep within ourselves. Jennifer created a class of love and safety where it was okay to fall and fly. She encouraged us not to take ourselves too seriously and said we had to laugh if we fell out of a pose. She helped us to align our body and our thoughts.

What do you want to manifest in your life? JP asked. Get a piece of paper and write down one, ten, or twenty things you want to manifest. Be as specific as possible.

I wrote down seven words to describe what I want to manifest: whole, love, courage, acceptance, abundance, authenticity, and peace. I want to be a loving and open person no matter my circumstances; I feel like everything else will fall into place in my life if I have those two things.

Give voice to your dreams. Be in a feeling of that which you wish to receive. Thank the universe in advance for what you are manifesting. — JP

What do you think of when you think of faith? — JP

I feel faith:

when I am one with myself

when I fully embrace the present moment

when I stop judging and start feeling

when I let go of my fears and worries and believe in life; believe that my life will unravel just as it should without my controls or worries

when I embrace my love for me,

when I feel how connected we all are,

when I love, when I hurt, when I laugh, when I find the freedom in being.

What do you think of when you think of doubt? When you start thinking about doubt, what starts to show up in your thoughts and your life?– JP

I think of the fearful, guarded person I used to be. I worry can I ever be fully free of that person? I think of the chronically depressed, negative person I used to be. I worry do I really deserve to feel this happy?

I need to claim my power and let go of the past and fully embrace myself and my life. I am not my past. I am not my future. I am this present moment, this present breath, and I am capable of anything in this present space.

I want to live to my fullest, love to my deepest, and breathe to my freest.

When you ask yourself what you want to manifest, ask yourself does it feel natural?– JP If you’re dreaming of being a professional football player, do you actually have the age, anatomy, and determination needed to make this happen? Be realistic but don’t let your self-doubts keep you from going after your dreams.

When we were in savasana, Jennifer read Marianne Williamson’s gorgeous text about self-actualization.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Marianne Williamson

I felt tears come to my eyes as I felt fully embraced by my worth, my light, my love, my talent. The words Who are you not to be? kept ringing in my head. I’m tired of playing small. I’m tired of hiding myself to make others comfortable. I’m tired of holding on to the person I used to be. I want to live. I want to love. I want to be.

–lissa

top photo by ojaipatrick.

bottom photo by monbikke.

What is YIOM?


The light in the darkness

We need a mix of darkness and light. Sometimes, the darkness repairs what the light cannot. I had a bodywork session (rolfing/structural integration) that released more emotions than I was ready to experience. I sat with the feelings and tried not to judge them but instead experienced them and let them go.

I’m pretty sure that they are old emotions I had stored away in my body. The significance of repressed emotions in the body cannot go unsaid. Christiane Northrup MD, a prominent women’s health doctor, refers to them as small ticking time bombs in the body and illnesses in incubation. They manifest in so many different forms in people like chronic pain, headaches, high blood pressure, depression, digestive difficulties, etc. This is where the beauty of mindful and releasing practices like yoga, art, laughter, running, and so many others become instrumental. We need the skill of being able to listen to our bodies as well as knowing how to let go to be able to work towards complete wellness.

Sometimes, I feel like sadness is merely a disconnection between your heart, body, mind, and soul; that’s why pranayama and mindfulness always seem to lessen the pain. A simple  breath work could be to breathe in love and softness and expand on your inhale and to release on your exhale and breathe out any tension.

Another thing I like to do besides breath work when I am feeling sadness or disconnection is to think of the things I am grateful for. Gratitude is an immediate mood lifter and changer because gratitude and sadness cannot share the same space.

One thing I’m immensely grateful for is the sun.

I cannot even look at that picture and not feel happy.

I can choose happiness even in moments like this because in every piece of darkness, there is light and love. It’s all a matter of what you’re willing to see in each moment.

–lissa
photo by Haiku Garry.

Choosing happiness

A couple months ago I made a list of simple things that made me happy like yoga, listening to music, eating healthy, being creative, reading, etc… I sought out to include one or more of those things in my life every day. The results? I felt a lot happier than I did before. Seems kind of obvious right? If I hadn’t made a conscious effort though, I could definitely see those types of things getting lost in the shuffle of a busy day.

I feel like happiness is something you need to invent in your life every day, every moment, rather than look for it or wait for it. The act of seeking distances you from happiness because it puts you in a space where you’re unhappy with what you have presently rather than making the most out of what you have. Happiness, contentment, or acceptance are available in every moment if we are open to them.

I  talked with my family about the idea of choosing happiness every day in life and it stirred quite a debate. They told me that being happy everyday was an impossibility. They said there are specific moments for happiness, such as graduating college, having a child, or getting married, but to be happy every day would be like lying to yourself since so much of life is painful. I felt sad that they could only see major and infrequent accomplishments in life as the times where they could allow a bit of happiness into their lives. I wonder if a lot of people feel this way. Do people feel guilty to be happy or maybe scared to be happy since they think of it as a fleeting emotion?

When I talk about happiness, I’m not talking about those rare moments of utter joy. I’m talking about the contentment and inner peace that comes with coming to terms with the ups and downs of life and finding the blessings in both of these. I’m talking about staying in the moment and not letting thoughts of the past or future overwhelm you but just enjoying the simple beauty in every moment like a kind word, a good meal, or five rounds of deep breath.

Happiness also entails being true to yourself and to the things you want out of life. If you spend over 40 hours at a job you hate or are in an unhealthy relationship with yourself or others, then you already are deciding against happiness and the simple things might not make as big of an impact on you.

What do you think? Is happiness something you feel like you’ve been able to choose in your life?

–lissa

photo by Mansour Ali.