Zephyr Wildman, Senior Yoga Teacher (UK)

– What is happiness to you?

As I age and gain more life experience with the ups and downs of the journey, I know now that happiness is not lived in the past or future, but truly celebrated in the moment. Happiness for me is the present moments of being truly moved by the natural joy of embodiment. Sure, I can look back on happy memories and feel that warmth in my heart all over again, but the happiness is experienced again only in the present if the present environment (mood, surroundings, context) and memory create another opportunity to check in with happiness.

– How did you come to your level of positivity and what did you have to overcome to achieve it?

I have the ability to look back on my life and see my hardships and challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. It may sound cliche, but it is true. As I reflect upon my past, it informs my present adding a richness to whatever I may be managing in my life. Reminds me of the lesson, “you cannot see the light, but for the dark”. How I came to have a positive outlook on life was to really embrace the shadow side of humanity in myself. I reached out to family, friends, support groups and professionals for guidance during the darkest times. That support and those dark times helped me acquire tools to self-regulate, self-nurture and empower myself to accept the pain and suffering I have lived through was essential. It took a lot of patience to accept how life unfolded, however, as I was determined to not be defined by my past, knowing that I was deeply affected by it, I started my journey to healing, growing and thriving in life. I don’t believe I will ever arrive at a plateau of ‘happiness’, however, I feel I now have many tools to navigate with when life becomes hard to handle. I must change my attitude to see how it can serve my mind and heart to awaken, regaining my serenity and joy for life.The best technique I have been using recently is a practice I received from one of my teachers, Tara Brach. It is the practice of R.A.I.N. This is a practice to learn how to self- regulate when strong thoughts, emotions, sensations and events are present. To apply this, it is recommended to create time and space to pause and breathe, look in. R is to recognise and acknowledge what is present. The thoughts that might be ruminating, emotions that might be expressing and sensations that might be felt. This allows one to start to wake up to what need attention, what is asking for some understanding, to listen to. A is to allow whatever is to be. Give it some more breathing room. Whether negative or positive, unpleasant or pleasant to be just as it is. I is to then investigate further. What is it saying, asking for, how is it manifesting in you, where? Taking a deep dive into the roots of what is present to explore a deeper unmet need that is calling out. And touching that vulnerability or pain we open to the opportunity to nurture. N is to nurture with non-judgemental awareness. To befriend the shadow side of humanity within us and relearn to love, accept and care for all parts of ourselves.So if you want to practice this, it is best to make time to sit and breathe. First work with starting to name the feelings, hear the thoughts and words. Say I see you. Create some breathing room and welcome the inflow to fill you with more loving awareness as you explore the sensations that are tethered to what is being shown.
 Ask yourself what does my heart long for? What is this pain asking me to accept? How can I take care of myself? Then start nurturing what is exposed with kind words and feel the meaning of the words like ‘I care’ ‘I am not leaving’ ‘you matter to me’ ‘I hear you’ ‘this belongs’ ‘you are enough’ ‘I love you’. Find your own way to self-sooth as you rest in the vast loving awareness, healing in the light of presence and learning to trust and let go into the embrace of it. Moment by moment, breath by breath.I would also recommend a gratitude buddy. I have had one for 4 years now and once or twice a day text just a list of heart felt gratitudes. Just a list, nothing else. These are noting the little joys felt during the day but what a difference taking a little inventory of them everyday does for your perspective! As we are a sum total of all our choices and experiences, a note of the sincere gratitudes acknowledged by yourself and then shared with a trusted friend is such a great tool to focus on the light and celebrate it in all its forms.

How do you manage to keep up the good spirits being a busy mum and running a business?

Self-care is at the top of my list. Basic hygiene, good food and sleep are key! Walks in nature, alone time and time to laugh out loud is second. The last is that I am truly blessed to have a loving, supportive husband who is my biggest cheerleader to help keep moving forward with my career. He is the anchor in our family that we are all tethered to, as the stormy seas of life batter us. Whatever the storm we can rely on him to keep us safe and secure until we are back to calm waters. It is a blessing to find such a friend, lover and fellow seeker.

– How does your yoga practice help you in being truly happy?

I find my Yoga practice is a great mirror of the real me. It is where I am honest and humbled by my own humanity as I embrace my pain. My practice is the way I regain my own serenity. When I practice, I have the opportunity to take responsibility and accountability of my thoughts, feelings and actions. Finding the space to allow what needs my attention the time to cathartically work through in a productive way and I go deep into the root of my pain and suffering. Then I can truly connect to my own unmet needs/ desires, listen and form better intentions and ways to nurture and care for myself in my practice. By the end of my practice, I usually am more comfortable in my own skin, my outlook is clearer and my heart feels supported.

– Please share your happy thought, or happy secret

My prayer these days is “I am open and willing, please guide me” This suggests that whatever life brings, I am open minded and hearted to receive whatever comes as I truly see that teachers come in many forms and there is a resource within me that I connect to deeply and use that light to guide me.