“There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way” Buddha.
On a good day, the above quote from Buddha feels sublime. On a bad day, it feels like a frustrating riddle. In Peter Chelsom’s film “Hector & the Search for Happiness” there is a hilarious moment when a woman approaches Hector & says, in a strong French accent, “I vont vot you av…you av a-penis , I vont a-penis like you”. We can sense this inner happiness a mile away, yet it feels elusive, mysterious, but we know for sure that we want what they’ve got..
“Ever since Happiness heard your name it has been running through the streets trying to find you” Hafiz
In Roko Belic’s documentary called “Happy”, a Namibian tribesman out hunting with his mates is asked “What makes you happy?” He giggles and says “Anything we do together makes us happy”.
The documentary goes on to conclude through interviews with members of different communities throughout the world that it is connecting with each other that makes us happy. Yoga, which means to connect, to join, to yoke, to unite, expands this interconnectedness with others by looking at our connections in the other direction ….with ourselves & what lies within us.
This interweaving of sociobiological connection with consciousness & divine connection is part of the weft & warp of our lives as human beings.
Temporary happiness (eating chocolate, falling in love, a new car, a different yoga posture) is delicious, pleasurable, yet fleeting; the more we chase satisfaction in the world of time (that which comes & goes), the more elusive it becomes. A deeper kind of satisfaction or contentment is the happiness that arises for no reason. Happiness that has no cause and no conditions, it is just there when we can open to it. We have all experienced that causeless joy, especially as children. So where does it come from and how can we find more of it?
“You do not have a life; you are life” Eckhart Tolle
We taste that causeless happiness, peace, joy when we experience that which doesn’t come and go. There’s a field within us that feels spacious, open, at peace, timeless, that which we could call wholeness …. Union…Yoga.
“Don’t tell me you are not worthy. Don’t tell me you are not made of stars. ” Jeff Foster
The subtle arts of yoga & meditation are designed to open us up to the sacred, plugging us into something that is us but not limited to personality or biology and revealed through deep listening to the somatic intelligence of our bodies.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali is not as concerned about shapes as he is with ease and steadiness … so that we can relax into and beyond the apparent physical boundaries of our bodymind.
“Joyful steadiness in the body free from tension, manifesting the infinite beyond duality is asana” Pantajali’s Yoga Sutras II .49 -53 by Godfrey Devereux
Wisdom tends to move in the subtle realms and it would seem that true happiness is down in there too. Godfrey Devereux, the creator of The Dynamic Yoga Method, is one of the clearest interpreters of Patanjalis Yoga Sutras, clarifying for us how and why we might practice yoga in a way that helps us to reap its intended fruit: to return us to wholeness.
He invites us to use a dynamic of integrity in the physical body, to bring sensitivity (ahimsa) to our joints, to become intimate with the sensations generated by the inhale and the exhale, intimate with the relationship between the spine and the pelvic floor, intimate with the nature of presence itself, “by allowing the intelligence of mind to be guided by the intelligence of body into the intelligence of consciousness”, until we are able to distinguish between the sensory pleasures in the physical body (conditional) and the pleasure or happiness that is always present, our true nature, consciousness, sat chit Ananda (unconditional).
The caveat here, however, is that if we want to become one with our true nature – the bliss that simply is – we have to be willing to feel everything, and that really means everything, not just the nice bits. We have to become intimate with what Is.
We begin by becoming intimate with what is happening in our bodies during our yoga practice. Then yoga can not only lead us to taste peace, freedom, happiness, wholeness, unconditional love or bliss but can leave us there, returning us to our wholeness.
”Yoga is not about how much you can move, it is about how much you can feel” (Godfrey Devereux)
Connection with our true nature requires yoga to be taught/practiced in a way that guides us to become more sensitive to and intimate with the silent language of the body, the bones, the tissues, the breath, until we become intimate with Beingness itself, the very life-force that courses through our every cell, our DNA. Consciousness. The Divine.
It’s this willingness to feel our way in, not to know intellectually but instead to enquire, to listen deeply, to feel, to become intimate with first our biology and the natural pleasure of our breathing, our heartbeat, the ebbing & flowing, the pulsation of change in our bodies, then to experience consciousness as a presence, that reveals our true nature and a feeling of fully belonging here, of being part of this universe, being made of the same stuff as stars, being whole, being enough…an inner happiness ….a steady joy arises, ‘regardless and in spite of whatever needs to unfold in our lives, we remain whole, as the ocean is to the wave.\’
“Each and everybody is endowed with extraordinary intelligence. Through self-enquiry yoga is the practice of uncovering the depths and power of that intelligence” Olivia Crooks.