What is happiness to you?
Space, the sun’s kiss and family! Space, not just in the physical sense, but inner space created with awareness through the practice of pranayama. You know: Darth Vader breathing! I do this with my son, little Noah who is almost four. Along with martial arts’ focus on breath, there is a consistent turning inwards to a steady and happy state: an expansion of the lungs and smoothing out tension in the body with breath alone.
I love this quote: “The mind is the king of the senses, but the breath is the king of the mind.” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika
The latter two – the sun’s kiss and family – are more obvious. Pure joy!
How did you come to your current level of positivity and what did you have to overcome to achieve it?
I am truly grateful for the grounding that the practice of the eight limbs of yoga has given me. As with most people, it’s a deeply personal journey though sometimes or often shared with fellow practitioners. I’ve lived/worked in seven countries for over 20 years and travelled to many more. I’ve written in journals during my travels and notably observed first-hand, the polarities of the human condition after the tsunami whilst in Thailand in 2004.
I’ve learned that we humans are not happy all the time. I don’t think that’s how life works, since there’s a constant juggle of finding that perfect balance, then surrendering to the fact that there is no ‘perfect’ and [the perception of] balance does not last.
So my short answer is that I find the positive in the best and worst situations. Like happiness, positivity can come back again to breathing practice and gratitude. Breath awareness creates the shift to reflect inwards with a sense of calm and even a state of forgiveness. Not necessarily meditation – though 10 mins. a day of meditation is golden – a reminder of how miraculous life is and our bodies are for carrying us through this short existence. Knowing that there is much I am not in control of, allows positive things like a happy memory, self-forgiveness or thinking of something I feel grateful for during challenging moments to shift back to a neutral – and if I’m lucky, a positive state.
Pema Chödrön shares that, “…we think that by protecting ourselves from suffering, we are being kind to ourselves. The truth is we only become more fearful, more hardened and more alienated. We experience ourselves as being separate from the whole. This separateness becomes like a prison for us – a prison that restricts us to our personal hopes and fears, and to caring only for the people nearest to us. Curiously enough, if we primarily try to shield ourselves from discomfort, we suffer. Yet, when we don’t close off, when we let our hearts break, we discover our kinship with all beings.”
How can one maintain good mental and physical health, and stay upbeat whilst travelling around the world and running a business?
Preparation and surrender! Preparing the body pre-travel with exercise, water/hydration and nutrition that is aligned with your needs. Preparing the mind by walking yourself through the journey from door to door, from security checks to hotel check-in, to preparing a packing grid and packing appropriately for longer trips. Then during travel, continuing to check in with yourself and your level of fatigue. Smiling even when others are not. Taking moments to yourself to be a blob, close your eyes and be grateful for little things or whatever comes to heart.
The surrender part is not having expectations – especially with timing and situations you are not in control of. Remembering, “It is what it is” for a reason.
I carry my favourite essential oils in a travel-size spritzer bottle mixed with filtered water or rose water – uplifting or calming – these are great for airplane bathrooms! Tiger balm for aches. A small notepad – I always like the good ole’ lined schoolbooks, and pen for inspiration, journalizing or business notes. Little laptop, headphones and earplugs are always handy as well!
Can you be happy anywhere?
Depends. In the past I would have said yes– didn’t have a care when travelling. And with work I could focus fully on projects without distraction so there was a contented sense of satisfaction doing what I love to do. Even during one of my 33 visits to India when things went pear-shaped, I’d let it roll knowing there are ebbs and flows in any situation. However, since becoming a Mum 3 years ago, I tend to worry more on all levels! With everything going on in the world now, I can only hope for the best for the next generations. One uplifting observation has been a few twenty-something young women who have been great caregivers, on occasion, with my little boy. We get to talking and I am comforted that there is attention to being educated about global issues, to the environment, to planting, giving back and to not be unnecessarily wasteful. The bottom line for feeling happy – at least for me – is the consciousness and peace that truly being in the moment with anyone you are in the company of – whether it be yourself or a friend or family – feels like time is standing still. It’s those unfolding moments when you truly connect with another person, an animal or anything in nature that are golden.
Share your favourite Happy thought:
Being in the company of individuals who are light and goofy. I’m forever in awe of children who haven’t yet developed filters or limiting beliefs. Anyone who makes me smile or laugh in this short life, especially my little boy who makes me belly laugh every day.