Permission for Happiness

Apr 13, 2022

 

A few days before my Yoga for Turbulent Times workshop last Saturday, a participant sent me an email that read:
 
I am finding it hard to give myself permission to be joyful or happy in these times. My purpose is to radiate positivity and contentment in myself and others. This is challenging, to say the least, in these days of war, unrest, and climate calamity.
 
It reminded me of a recent New Yorker cartoon where a doctor is examining a patient and concludes: “Here’s your problem – it looks like you’re paying attention to what’s going on.”
 
I get it. It can be hard, even guilt inducing, to give yourself permission to be happy when you look around at a world so filled with suffering, destruction, and division. And yet, what are the alternatives? Is taking on the pain and suffering of the world the best way to respond? 
 
One of the central tenets of yoga as a practice of spiritual well-being is that happiness requires a consistent and steady effort. The truth of this hits home for me when I look out at a world so rife with tragedy and injustice, most of which I have very little, or no control over. It's easy to feel disheartened and it takes a conscious effort to restore a sense of contentment and happiness. That's where yoga comes in.
 
Yoga takes the focus off the external world and puts it squarely back on what we do have control over – ourselves. It gives us tools to shift our internal environment - body, mind, and spirit - to uplift and replenish ourselves. It provides a refuge that brings freedom when the weariness of the world is weighing on us.
 
It’s not about denying or shutting out the pain and suffering we see, but rather developing the inner resources to nurture and sustain our own happiness so that we can respond to it with greater effectiveness, consciousness, and whole-hearted presence. 

 

 

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