Happiness is a Choice

This afternoon, I finished teaching my six week short course, "The Art and Yoga of Happiness." It was a grace-filled journey to share and experience with wonderful students.

We teach, of course, to learn what we must know and embody, and that is why I designed this course in the first place.

Over and over again, every book and every source I consulted suggested that happiness is a choice. As I wrote a dear friend yesterday - happiness and living in the present moment - both go together, and they are a choice we make every day - over and over again!

The Dalai Lama, in The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, states that we are all capable of happiness. But, we must learn to train our minds in order to achieve and experience it. He also states that we must widen our circle and understanding of intimacy, and seek to make deeper connections with others. A key ingredient undergirding all of this, is the cultivation of compassion.

In learning how to train our minds, we need to more specifically learn how to train our thoughts and choose which thoughts we give our energy and time to - and which ones we allow to dissolve. As I shared with the group that assembled together for the duration of these six weeks, each morning we must begin our days by affirming: "I choose happiness."

Each week of our journey together, we practiced meditation techniques and did a yoga practice designed to help us cultivate greater happiness in our lives. We practiced Lovingkindness and Tonglen, we did a back bending practice to open our hearts, and a forward bending practice to enable us to surrender and let go of what no longer served us or what impeded our experience and embodiment of happiness.

We also did hip openers to widen our perceptual lens, coupled with Inner Spiral - of the Anusara Yoga Universal Principle of Alignment - to create more space within our bodies for the experience of happiness. Today, we concluded with a practice of Yoga Nidra - or "yogic sleep" - which involves the rotation of consciousness coupled with a "sankulpa" - or setting an intention. Doing so, powerfully enables us to shift our consciousness, our perspective, and to begin to solidify an embodiment of happiness.

Yesterday and today, I posted on both Facebook and Twitter, quotes and a selection from the Tao Te Ching, related to this topic, that might be insightful, and so I share them...

"Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of all beings,
but contemplate their return.

Each separate being in the universe
returns to the common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.

If you don't realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant...
dignified as a king.

Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready."
~ Tao Te Ching

"Surrender all attachments."
~ Buddha

"Do not seek to have events happen
as you would want them to,
but instead want them to happen
as they happen,
and your life will be good."
~Epictetus

"What we are today
comes from our thoughts of yesterday
and our present thoughts
build up our life of tomorrow."
~ Buddha

"Happiness is determined more
by one's state of mind,
than by external events."
~ Dalai Lama

"There is no reality,
only perception."
~ Dr. Phil McGraw

"Happiness can be achieved
through training the mind."
~ Dalai Lama

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