Authentic, (AWE-then-tic) adjective1. genuine. 2. made or done in the traditional way 3. Denoting an emotionally purposeful and significant mode of human life.
Happiness, (ha-pee-nis) noun1.The state of being happy. 2. good fortune, 3. pleasure, 4. contentment, 5. joy
Humans tend to have a false sense of who they are. Often this is constructed by previous experience and a mind cultivated by years of conditioning. We align with that which we believe ourselves to be based on the backlog of our individual impressions.
Yet, when we align with the authentic teachings of yogic philosophy, we experience that our bodies are merely a container for the spirit, not just our minds and our conditioning. Yoga is one lens to view how the material world is ever changing and temporary and that all living things are connected by universal consciousness. Often what follows this realization is a feeling of intrinsic joy (even if it is fleeting, a taste is spectacular not to mention informative). We can feel understandably relieved when we recognize the nature of reality without needing to fulfill ourselves through outside sources of happiness.
As we choose to endeavor into a truly genuine and honest yoga practice, we come to realize that not only are our bodies temporary, but so are the thoughts, feelings and emotions — from pleasure to pain. As we begin to integrate these teachings to daily life, many notice they are not as disturbed by things we have no control over, or perhaps even that which we do — the myriad complex situations we encounter.
Some begin yoga as if it were a yellow brick road to health and wellness, perhaps to lose weight or manage pain. An unexpected gift of this yellow brick road: the experience of the pursuit of the liberated self. Take for example our mountain culture. Perhaps we knew who we were: a dirt biker, a singer, an extreme skier. We may identify with these roles as our fundamental self. But when faced with challenging circumstances, suddenly our persona can be robbed, like an accident, the loss of our voice, fatalities of friends, all of which make us question who we are and what we do. The trouble comes when our minds insist on identifying on this constructed self.
That said, these labels sure can make it easy to slot oneself into a role. Heck it is even fun to play those roles. However, when we cannot fulfill our purported position, we suffer from a nagging longing for that which we are attached, seeking to hold onto those lifelong patterns we know all too well.
Our wise connection to yoga wakes us up to the nature of reality. A strong alignment to the present moment is found through breath, movement and meditation. We come to understand and feel a deep sense of gratitude for simply being as we are: not the mere matter of our illusion. On the mat, we can revel in the delicious flavor of raw experience. We discover an intrinsic happiness realized through a richer connection to our true self, our connection to the universe and to each other. Suddenly, the external attachments begin to fade away.
Though we may still drive our fancy cars, post Instagram pictures of ourselves in yoga poses or ski the steepest slopes in America, it doesn’t define who we are. We can graciously accept not always getting our way. We can learn to take the “I-ness” out of the equation. We can employ the buddhi function of the mind — the deep intelligent discernment of what IS: a sense of universal alignment and cause.
Our own story doesn’t define every situation and we simply learn to live happier, with a connection to the self that is not fed with ego pacifiers but with intrinsic joy. Perhaps your trip down the yellow brick road can land you, like Dorothy, to the Emerald City where you will discover your essential self; the self that is liberated, peaceful and full of an open heart.
About the Author
Niki Sue Mueller
Niki Sue Mueller is a Yoga Alliance E-RYT 500 Registered Yoga Teacher and has been teaching since 2003. Her main practice is Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Sri K. Patthabi Jois, but she also teaches other styles including Vinyasa flow and hot yoga. She has completed teacher trainings with Richard Freeman and has studied with Tim Miller, D’ana Baptiste, David Williams, David Swenson, Judith Lassiter, Nicki Doane, Eddie Modestini, Bhavani Maki, Noah Maze, and many others. Niki Sue’s yoga classes combine Bhakti (devotional) and Jnana Yoga (philosophy) with powerful asana sequencing.