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Happiness Power Principle #2, April 3, 2016
Principle #2:If It's Going To Be, It's Up to Me

Nobody is put on this earth to make sure you are happy. Maybe your parents had the job early on - after all, they brought you here without asking - but their job ended long ago. Your happiness doesn't rest on the shoulders of them, your significant other, your family, your children, your friends, or your colleagues. It's totally up to you.

So, the second principle is: it is your responsibility to create your own happiness. It is entirely your job. If the universe cooperates, you get a bonus.

This can be a difficult principle to swallow. Observe Alexis, who devoted decades toward being bitter because her husband of 15 years walked out on her. Or, John, who, still in his 50's rails against his parents because they never showed him enough warmth or love.

Each of these people deluded themselves with the conviction that life, not them was responsible for their happiness; that people and conditions should be different. That's self-defeatism at its finest.

But, given the challenges to happiness we all face, does it really make sense to rely on the will, whim, or ability of others to do the job for you? If you decide to follow Principle #2 and accept the responsibility for your own happiness, then:

*determine to take charge of filling as many moments as possible with happiness

* gracefully accept that you are not a special case and expect that life will throw you curves along your journey

* Be resolute in working to overcome those curves that challenge your quest for happiness

* refuse to fall into the victim mentality, never giving into whining, self-pity, or blaming

*adopt the Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Excerpt from Russell Grieger, Happiness on Purpose
Happiness Power Principle #1
Principle #1: This Is It

Yes, this is it. today is all we have. Tomorrow might be no different or better. Besides, none of us know for certain that there will even be a tomorrow.

The bottom line: your time on earth is limited. Remind yourself of that as often as possible. That perspective will help you consciously and intentionally seek happiness at every possible turn. To begin to live this principle try to:

- become increasingly aware of what does and does not bring you happiness

- focus on the opportunities that exist daily to experience happiness

- Build into your life - step by step - those things that give you happiness

- rid your life - little by little- of those things that bring you frustration, displeasure, and suffering

- be grateful for and savor those moments of happiness, thereby prolonging the original experience itself

Contemplate:

-What implications does "This Is It" suggest to you with regard to seeking happiness?

- What are three things- small or large- that you could immediately build into your life to increase your happiness?

Excert from- Russel Grieger, Happiness on Purpose
Spirit & Image, 3-16-16
Have you ever heard the pharse "spittin - image"? Well, it actually stems from an old misinterpretation. Joel Chandler harris, author of the Uncle Remus stories explained that when an American slave seemed to be saying "spittin - image", what they were saying was "spirit and image". Like, isn't he the "spittin-image" of his father?
Even more interesting is the truth of St.Bernard of Clairvaux who said
"What we love we shall grow to resemble" or put another way, we become the spirit and image of that which we hold dear , at least on the inside.
Since we become like that which we most love, we want to choose whom and what we love carefully. Where to place our priorities. How to devote our best time and energy. To whom we give our fullest attention. For love is about these things of the heart, and our spirits will resemble that which has hold of our heart.
excerpt from Steve Goodier, Ten Million Clicks for Peace.
Three Gateways of Speech, 3-9-16
The power of words isn't lost on anyone. Just think of the pleasure you feel when someone pays you a sincere compliment, or the discomfort of realizing you've spilled a secret you'd promised to keep. Words and the energy they carry can make or break a friendship or career; they define us as individuals and as cultures. We know this, and yet we let our words flow out unmediated, like random pebbles tossed into a lake. Sometimes it's only when the ripples spread to cause waves, and the waves rush back and splash us, that we stop to think about the way we speak.
The sages of yoga obviously understood the human tendency to run off at the mouth, because many ancient texts of the inner life, counsel us to use our words carefully. The Buddha made "right Speech" one of the pillars of his Noble Eightfold Path. On the simplest level, these sages point out, unnecessary speaking wastes time and energy that could be devoted to self-inquiry and transformative action. More important though, is the power that words have to change the communal atmosphere, to cause pain or joy, and to create a climate that fosters falsity or truth, cruelty, or kindness.
In the Buddhist and Hindu teachings you will find the
THREE GATEWAYS OF SPEECH- before you speak, ask yourself these 3 questions:
1. Is this true?
2. Is this kind
3. Is it necessary?
Excerpted from sally Kemptom, Yoga Journal online
The Wisdom of Fear, 3-2-16
Anything worth doing will always have some amount of fear attached to it. For example, getting married, having a baby, changing careers, moving, retiring. It helps to remember that his type of fear can be good. It is your way of questioning whether you really want what these changes may bring. It is also a reminder that releasing the past is a necessary part of moving forward.
Fear has a way of throwing us off balance, making us feel insecure and uncertain, but it is not meant to discourage us. Its purpose is to notify us that we are at the edge of our comfort zone, poised in between our choices. Whenever we face our fear, we overcome an inner obstacle and move into new territory, both inside and out. The more we learn to respect and even welcome fear, the more we will be able to hear its wisdom, wisdom that will tell us to move forward or not. While comfort with fear is a contradiction in terms, we can honor our fear, recognizing its arrival, listening to its intelligence, and respecting it is a harbinger of transformation.Indeed, it informs us that the change we re contemplating is significant, enabling us to approach it with proper reverence.
Excerpt from Madisn Taylor, Daily OM
What if... 8/13/15
What if our religion was each other
If our practice, was our life
If prayer, our words
What if the temple was the earth
If forests were our church
If holy water, our rivers, lakes and oceans
What if meditation was our relationships
If the true teacher was life
If wisdom was self-knowledge
What if LOVE was the center of our being
by: Ganga White
August 3, 2015, Blockages
Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of where we are restricted - in body, mind, and heart, and how to gradually open and release these blockages. As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow or we begin to flow more , in our lives.
Cybele Tomlinson
SPRING!
The first day May honors the traditional spring festival of Beltane, when on the British Isles people gather together to dance around a garlanded maypole. Tethered to the pole by colorful ribbons, the dancers encircle it again and again as their ribbons intertwine. This celebratory dance is performed in honor of Maia, the May queen for whom this month is named. The traditional maypole dance itself and the joy of the revelers are physical expressions of gratitude that continue to be passed on from generation to generation.
Maia is the goddess of increase and abundance, qualities that are hallmarks of this month when Spring is in its fullness.
In May, nature mirrors back to us the increased blossoming and opening that are also occurring in our lives and within our own nature. We may experience a burst of renewed creativity, or a greater intensity of feeling in our physical experience of the world. Perhaps a new dimension of our character suddenly awakens, or our spirit unexpectedly soars to new heights. Any of these experiences might naturally occur at this time of plenty.
So, during this month of new life, notice what is awakening, and growing in your life. And also, practice gratitude for the abundance in your life.
Limb 8 Samadhi
The final aspect of the yoga path is Samadhi or surrender to a higher power. Faith, surrender, devotion. Faith in what? Surrender to what? Devotion to what? The answers to these questions cannot be found in any book, they are written in our hearts. They were written long before we were born, and we practice yoga to complete our journey back to the truth about ourselves. Whether or not you have a God or want a God is irrelevant. All of us have experienced moments of profound connectedness -
the caress of a Spring breeze on our bare skin, the feeling in our chests when we look into another's eyes with love, the holy awe of gazing at a star-strewn summer sky. There is a greatness right beneath the surface of everyday life, and every once in a while we catch a glimpse of it. Those are the sudden, lucid flashes when life beguiles us out of the prison of our minds and leads us right into the moment. On our mats and our meditation cushions, we begin to experience this deep connectedness on an everyday occurrence. Samadhi is about making the experience of that greatness a priority.

And why not? We can live in the light with the same ease with which we live in our darkness. We are surrounded by mentors who have chosen to live life on a higher plane, for a higher purpose. The music we listen to, the movies we watch, the books we read- all abound with reference to the sweetness of "amazing grace". This final moment in the eight limbs of yoga is about allowing grace to happen. Not hoping for it to happen, not trying to make it happen, not believing that one day it will happen - this final moment is about LETTING IT HAPPEN. It is about shining, and who are we not to shine?
Rolf Gates from Meditations from the Mat.
Limb 7 Dhyana
In dhyana, psychological and chronological time come to a standstill as the mind observes its own behavior. The intensity of attention in the field of consciousness neither alters nor wavers, remaining as stable, smooth, and constant as oil pouring from a jug. Maintaining the same intensity of awareness, the attentive awareness moves from one-pointed concentration to no pointed attentiveness...in dhyana the emphasis is on the maintenance of a steady and profound contemplative observation.
BKS Iyengar

Dhyana is that profound place that sports psychologists call "the zone". It is the place where the musician and the instrument disappear and there is only music. Through fearlessness and dedication we leave behind the everyday impediments and enter the realm of pure energy, pure spirit, unerring right action. All of us have the capacity to live from this place if we practice.
Rolf Gates
Limb 6 Dharana
Dharana is referred to as concentration. We learn to bring our attention to one point, and we train our minds to stay there. The point of concentration can be external, as in asana, or it can be internal as in meditation. On the mat we experience dharana quite often, during those moments when we lose track of time, when our minds become so absorbed in the physical experience of a posture that we are no longer connected to everyday concerns. In dharana, the past and the future have dissolved and we are no longer connected to everyday concerns. I experience dharana when I'm engaged with my grand daughter, making jewelry, or spending time in nature. Most of us are fortunate enough to have found activities that draw forth this deep concentration. When we are doing something we truly love, we cannot help but give ourselves to it wholeheartedly. Dharana, therefore, is a by-product of love. In the clarity of a focused mind, we find that timeless place where we connect to spirit. In this sense, dharana is our pathway to spirit.
Limb 5 Pratyhara
The first four limbs of yoga envelop the physical body and the external world, while with the following four, we embrace an entirely internal practice.

Pratyahara is the moment in the process - the juncture at which we go from DISTRACTION to DIRECTION.

Pratyahara is the decision to turn inward, to let go of drama. It is the choice to release our grip on the external world and all of our attempts to control it, in order to focus our minds on the internal.

Pratyahara is the moment when the intrepid explorers leave their boats on the shore and head inland.

At what point do you draw yourr boat onto shore and head inland?

What reservations do you have about doing this?

What resistance do you have to letting go of the past and the future?

Take time to observe the process of turning inward in your daily interactions. Pay attention to where you go, where your attention is placed, as you honor your commitments to your work/volunteer time, your relationships, yourself.
Limb 4 Pranayama
Most yoga practices will induce the relaxation response, that is they will kick in the parasympathetic nervous system, PSN. To understand this more clearly, our autonomic nervous system has 2 branches, the PSN and the sympathetic, SNS. The SNS is often referred to as the "fight or flight" response, typically triggered by stress. When this baby kicks in, it initiates the release of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones then cause changes to the body, such as raising the blood pressure, increasing the heart rate, and elevating blood sugar levels. Not the way we want to roll.

In contrast, during a yoga practice, as we close our eyes and begin to bring our awareness to the breath, we move into the PNS, where positive physiological effects start to happen. Our heart rate begins to slow down, cardiopulmonary stress is decreased, blood sugar levels may lower, and muscular tension is reduced. Now, this is the way we want to roll.

The sum total of the positive impact of moving into our PSN is awesome! We have an increased sense of well-being, "be well yoga", just had to stick that in there, and the concerns that held us so tightly just moments before we started the pranayama/breath practice have gone bye-bye. We now sense a powerful presence - the presence of stillness.

So, just breathe...
Limb 3 the asanas
The majority of students enter a yoga class for physical reasons, to take care of their bodies through the practice of the postures, the asanas. Perhaps they are recovering from an injury, a surgery, or to reduce muscular tension and pain. Other physical reasons may be to improve flexibility, balance, and strength. Yet,another, is to reduce stress.

Practicing yoga can positively impact every major system of the human body: skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, nervous, respiratory, and immune. It's no wonder that yoga has become such a popular practice.

However, according to the Yoga Sutras, your asana practice should always be steady and comfortable. The student is to be firm but relaxed. many students have trouble with this. They tend to be unstable and panicky. Later on, having learned a few postures, many students become striving and ambitious. Still later, these same folks become hurt and disillusioned. This is because we tend to approach our postures the way we approach our lives. In our culture, the results get all the attention and the process or journey is overlooked. Approach both your life and your postures with an eye on the process, and let go of the results. Stand easy in all the postures of your life, firm but relaxed.

The strength of your yoga is not necessarily tested during the asanas but in your life off the mat.