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It is fair to say that we lead our lives in the pursuit of happiness. So everything we do is somehow related to that deep, profound desire for happiness.
So what is happiness and why is it so elusive? In the words of Matthieu Ricard, who is called the Happiest Man on the Planet, “happiness is not just a fleeting emotion, a pleasurable sensation, it is not dependent on having something, achieving something, getting somewhere. It is a deep sense of serenity and calm that pervades all emotional states, all the joys and sorrows that can come one’s way.” [Watch Matthieu Ricard’s famous TED Talk, The Habits of Happiness ]
This definition implies that no matter what our outer conditions, it is the mind that translates it into happiness or suffering in our inner environment. There are certain states of mind that is conducive to inner wellbeing and there are certain states that are adverse to our inner wellbeing.
So what are the states that are adverse to our inner wellbeing? First of all, what is going on in our minds? A few years ago, two Harvard psychologists, by the names of Mathew Kilingsworth and Daniel Gilbert found that our minds wander 50% of the time. And being in this state called, in what is called the default mode network produces a mind that is inherently unhappy.
We humans spend a great deal of time thinking about the past or speculating about the future. And this form of mind wandering is not conducing to our inner peace.
Also, what is the quality of our thoughts. The mind takes on the attributes of what it attends to, thoughts that fill our mind create our reality. Our thoughts influence our emotions, our moods, our behaviour and also our habits and traits of our character.
So what we think we become and every time we habitually react, our past becomes our present. If we are filled with anger, jealousy, hatred, arrogance and strong desire, our inner environment is unlikely to be in a happy state.
How do we create an inner environment that is conducive to happiness?
Silence is to the mind what exercise is to the body. We need to create space for pause. We need to create space for stillness. We need to create space for silence in our daily lives.
We need to commit to mindfulness practices. Regular and dedicated mindfulness practice is a way to train our mind to stay present, to wander less, to become more familiar with our selves.
When we practice mindfulness, we become able to shine the torch of awareness on our thoughts, our feelings, our sensations and we become able to watch our tendency to judge; we also become able to watch the stories we weave around what’s actually happening.
In the words of Aristotle, the great philosopher, the most important relationship we can all have is the one we have with yourself. The most important journey you can take is one of self-discovery. To know yourself, you must spend time with yourself. You must not be afraid to be alone.
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. I hope you will consider committing yourself to a practice of mindfulness. I hope you will commit to create space in your day for mindfulness, for self awareness.
By Deepa D’Souza
Certified Hatha & Yin Yoga Teacher
Deepa D’Souza is a certified Hatha and Yin yoga teacher. She did her Hatha Yoga teacher’s training at the Arsha Yoga Ashram, Kerala (India) and Yin Yoga teacher’s training in Singapore.
She has taught yoga at various venues including The AWWA, The Buddhist Fellowship, The Brahm Centre & The National University Hospital. She also regularly conducts Yoga, Mindfulness and Meditation workshops for beginners.
Deepa qualified as a Chartered Accountant, had a 12-year stint in the corporate world and has lived and worked in 3 countries. She is fully aware of and sensitive to the challenges and stresses of the corporate world. Her own journey and training in the wellness of the mind and body has equipped her to teach techniques that can help improve the quality of one’s life. She continues to build upon her learning through workshops, retreats and immersions but more importantly, through her self-practice, self-reflection and observation of her students.
Read more articles on emotional wellness, stress reduction, yoga and meditation in our Pregnancy Tips section.
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