Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Where happiness comes from

No sooner had I written the previous post, dated March 22nd, than the latest issue of Yoga Journal magazine arrived in the mail.  Yay!  I love Yoga Journal for the photos, and features about poses, but what I love most is the articles about the more philosophical aspects of yoga. 

This one was a doosie.  There is an article about Pantajali's Yoga Sutra and the explanation of avidya, or ignorance.  This is not the garden variety, Joe Smoe on the street kind of ignorance.  Pantajali is referring to each of us not knowing our true selves.  The author, Sally Kempton, begins by explaining that happiness does not arise from circumstances, relationships, etc.   True happiness only comes from deep within; it is our natural state of being. 

Not feeling so naturally happy?  The Yoga Sutra tells us why.  Avidya is our belief (or misbelief) in what constitutes reality.  For example, many people associate happiness with things, experiences, or relationships.  The Yoga Sutra explains that these are impermanent and only passing fancies in the mystery we call life; they do not and cannot add nor detract from who we really are: our true selves.  Most of us mere mortals, however, confuse these things as reasons for happiness or unhappiness.  Hence, our ignorance.

So, how does one access this kind of happiness? The answer is practicing the eight limbs of yoga.  I have personally experienced this spontaneous joy bubbling up from my true self through practicing asanas and meditation (two of the eight limbs of yoga).  It was only a momentary feeling, but it was there.  I have had a glimpse of what Pantajali is talking about and I am intrigued.

This might sound like a lot of mumbo jumbo, but I'm asking you to suspend judgment for a moment and humor me. I'm asking you to give it some real thought, even read up on avidya in this month's Yoga Journal. Then, let's hear what you think.

Are you still with me? Am I making any sense here?

These concepts are challenging enough to me as a person, but now that I'm a mother, what I'm starting to wonder is how this applies to parenting?

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