Stress less this holiday season

Square breathing, box breathing, or the 4-part breath… it doesn’t matter what you call it, just make sure that you know how to do it!

What is it and why should we do it?P1140105

Juggling work, physical fitness and family can make you feel stressed. A stressed body can manifest itself in many ways, from tightness in the chest and shoulders to your whole body feeling tense or in a state of dis-ease. It can also lead to a lack of focus and clarity in your daily life.

Four-part breathing is a proven method for recalibrating your nervous systems. Research shows that it is especially useful for rapidly decreasing stress, anxiety, heart rate or blood. It is a useful tool during times of stress, when you feel overwhelmed or when you are looking to more fully activate your creativity or ability to concentrate fully on the task at hand. In only a few minutes, you can use the 4-part breathing technique to help you regain focus and calm your mind so that you can think better. Try this once every hour at work or whenever you feel stressed.

Where to Practice

While the environment can help to add to your relaxed state, it is not imperative. If there are other people around and you cannot find a private, quiet place, this exercise can be performed quietly with your eyes open. If you do have a private place to practice, you may like to get yourself into a comfortable yoga pose such as Sukhasana (Easy Pose).

As easy as 1,2,3,4

  1. Breathe in through your nose for four counts.
  2. Pause/hold your breath for four counts.
  3. Exhale through your mouth for four counts.
  4. Pause/hold your breath for four counts.

If comfortable, hold your tongue against the roof of your mouth throughout the exercise. Do as many sets as you like until your mind feels calmer.

For a slightly more advanced variation:

During step four notice your body sensations with gentle curiosity. Don’t try to change anything, just allow your attention to rest with the sensations in your body for these four counts. On step one, return your full attention to breathing in through your nose.

For a simpler alternative:

Focus only on slowly counting to four as you breathe and pause and let go of breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Always listen to your body

If you practice this breath technique for a few minutes and it doesn’t feel good, let it go and return to your natural, calm breath. If you choose to play with it at a later time, you can also begin by using a count of two and working up to a count of four.

Tips

If you find it difficult to slow down your thinking or concentrate, try either repeating a mantra over in your head or try the following visual guide:

Repeating a Mantra

Repeat a calming phrase or sound such as “om” as you breathe. For example, as you inhale, say “om,” two, three, four and repeat on the exhale. Your concentration will begin to narrow as you continue with the exercise.

Use a Visual Guide

If you find yourself losing focus during the breathing process, use a square or rectangular object as your visual guide. A laptop screen, window, piece of paper, or a book are some examples. Start by focusing on the upper left corner of the square. As you inhale for 4 seconds, move your gaze smoothly to the upper right corner. Hold your breath as you bring your gaze to the lower right corner. As you exhale, glide your gaze to the lower left corner. Finally, as you hold your breath, draw your gaze up to the upper left corner. Do this as many times as you’d like. You may even reverse the gazing sequence after you do the original sequence a couple of times.

Considerations

While meditation has many positive benefits, it should never be used as a substitution for conventional medical care, regular exercise and a proper diet. Please check with your health care provider before starting a meditative practice and always inform your meditation instructor about your condition if you have one.

Wishing you and your family a safe and happy holiday full of laughter and love.

Namaste,

Natalie

P.S. If you enjoyed practicing 4-art breathing, you may be interested in learning more about another breathing technique called Nadi Shodhana (Alternative Nostril Breathing). If you enjoyed reading this post or practising meditation, you might be interested in reading my love and gratitude post

 

 

 

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The pebble in my right shoe

“The past is a pebble in my shoe.”- Edgar Allen Poe 

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Before reading this post- This post is the 2nd in a 2 part blog, please feel free to read the first part: A reason, a season, a lifetime. 

If you have been reading my Blogs, you have probably already realised that I am an avid and varied reader. I enjoy reading literature of all genres and often take inspiration from things I have read.

Brene Brown said “If you have a rock in your shoe you don’t just keep walking, you stop and deal with it. But we often don’t do that with our emotions.” For me this was mostly the case, I thought that I had dealt with my emotions surrounding my traumatic accident that caused multiple fractures to my right ankle and a partially torn ACL (See: How did I find yoga?) but my reoccurring pain told a different story. Not only was the accident itself and learning how to walk traumatic but the circumstances surrounding the accident also caused me great emotional distress (See: Road to Dhyana).

I believe that unresolved emotions are at the heart of our health issues and yet so many people don’t want to or can’t work on them. As I mentioned previously, my accident was in 2010 but it wasn’t until 2016 that my deepest emotional pain manifested as a severe pain in my right foot. It was a pain that left me limping like I had a huge stone in my right shoe whilst on a road trip up the Eastern coast of Australia with 2 dear friends.

I am a real believer that everything happens for a reason so when the 3 of us stopped at a friend’s place in Byron Bay and she offered a kinesiology session; I jumped at the opportunity to try to fix my foot. Thinking I knew quite a bit about kinesiology from other conversations that I had had with Nicole, I thought that this session would be relatively easy but I got more that I bargained for.

It is from my experience with Nicole that I now believe that kinesiology is an exceptional modality for dealing with any emotional pebble/ rock/ stone in your shoe.

Kinesiology and the releasing of unresolved emotions

Nicole asked me to lie on her table as she got me comfortable. She explained that she would use a technique called muscle testing to uncover what was really going on with my right foot.

Almost immediately Nicole tapped into and uncovered a range of subconsciously stored emotions pertaining to the accident. The best way I can explain these stored, unresolved emotions is likening them to a computer virus (not just because I don’t really understand either) but because they both lurk around unseen, causing upheaval within their host.

Clearing emotions and eliminating my pain

This uncovering of unresolved emotions resulted in a 90 minute session of crying and releasing everything that happened to me whilst in hospital in Honduras- the negligent insurance, the corrupt hospital system, the inhumanity of a 3rd world country.

It surprised me that I still held onto so much hurt and pain despite having already discussed these issues at length with friends and family many years ago. I guess my body was storing these feelings until I could deal with and process them thoroughly.

 My foot has never felt better

Through kinesiology Nicole enabled me to stop to pull out my pebble, look at it and then toss it away. I literally walked away from our session feeling better, stronger and happier than I had for a very long time.

At the end of the session, I was healed because Nicole was able to bring the problem and its underlining causes to a level of consciousness and above and beyond the level at which the symptoms and causes existed. To this day I have not experienced any more pain in my right foot. Thank you so much Nicole.

Dedicated to Nicole who is an amazing person, an inspirational healer and a true friend, sending you lots of love, happiness and kindness, X

 

Namaste,

Natalie

If you enjoyed reading this post, you may like to read a very short Blog from one of my previous posts, Scars.

A Reason, A Season, A Lifetime

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed or just felt. They have come to assist you through a hard time, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. Then, suddenly, the person disappears from your life. Your need has been met; their work is done.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share or grow or give back. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They give you great joy. Believe it; it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons- things you must build upon to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all your other relationships.

Think about the people in your life over the years. Whether they were there for a reason, a season or a lifetime, accept them and treasure them for however long they were meant to be part of your life.

And when they are gone, be thankful for the gifts you received from them when they were here- for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

–       Annette Petrick

When we cross people’s paths in life; it may be fleetingly. Occasionally, it may be more long standing and endure the test of time- or it may be for just a season. Sometimes we are ready to move on, and sometimes it is out of our hands and the people we have met and want to share more with have other ideas, and they move on leaving you a little hurt and a little bewildered at times. I am not only talking with regard to a romantic capacity. This can be with regard to friendships, family, people you have brushed shoulders with in a working capacity and then circumstances change and you need to part company.

Often relationships come for a reason…. to learn something new, to open a doorway, to gain insight, to direct you to another part of your path or purpose. They are there simply for a reason… and once that reason is served, they disappear, fall away, or feel out of alignment… sometimes for no apparent reason.

Writing this Blog, I have been reminded of all the people who I’ve met briefly but have left a huge footprint in my heart. From the strangers who came and sat by my side whilst I was in hospital in Honduras so that I would have someone to speak English with and not feel so scared and alone, to the surgeon in Melbourne who finally listened to me and decided to operate on me for free. These people have come into my life for a reason, to comfort and heal me.

Other times, relationships come in for a Season…. to bring you a new awareness, new love, a new life and new lessons. These season relationships are usually a bit longer, and with that are often harder to let go of or release, unless of course you recognize they are here just for a season.

During this process, I have thought about my yoga teachers who have supported me on my yoga journey. They have nurtured me; have helped me grow, develop and evolve. They have inspired me. They have been in my life for a season but will stay in my heart forever. I have taken the experience and been grateful for all that it was… and it was an amazing season.

And finally, others are for a Lifetime. Lifetime relationships last a lifetime. There are my friends and family who have been in life and will be in my life for a lifetime. They support, encourage, inspire and love me unconditionally. I am so lucky to have such amazing people in my life.

I personally believe that everything happens for a reason, and so when I part company for whatever reason, I take it as part of life. I am thankful that I have had the pleasure of meeting all the people that have made a positive difference in my life. I would also like to thank all of those who at the time didn’t immediately make a positive difference but who, in retrospect, have taught me a valuable life lesson along the way.

To everyone who has touched my life, thank you for being a part of my life… Whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime

I believe that even the season and lifetime relationships are also for a reason. One of my lifetime friends, Nicole is a perfect example of coming into my life for a reason. Please continue reading my next Blog to learn how Nicole has touched and my life and healed me from the inside out.

 

But for now I’d love to hear your comments on Reason, Season or Lifetime relationships.  Please use the comments section below to let me know your thoughts! If you liked this Blog you may be interested in reading one of my past posts: Life’s Lessons.

Namaste,

Natalie

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Chitwan Elephant Breeding Centre

I saw them in the distance, one of my favourite animals: swinging their trunks and tails in all possible directions but as I neared them I saw why they were doing that. Chitwan National Park is also known for its elephant safaris but to be honest, knowing how it is possible for humans to ride on the back of an elephant has made me never want to be involved in such an archaic and cruel practice. As I approached the shelter, I saw them paired, chained, hot and distressed: Mothers with their little babies, one as young as 10 months…

Today’s inspiration has come from my disturbing experience at the Chitwan Elephant Breeding Centre in Nepal (if you would like to read about this and get the word out to other fellow animal lovers, please click on the following link: Chitwan Elephant Breeding Centre. Read, like and share- Get the word out that exploitation of animals is not alright and we do not support this archaic and cruel industry).

Yoga is not only about finding inner strength, peace and love on the mat, it is also about finding that in the real world, when you are off the mat, when it really makes a difference. To stand up and say when something is wrong, be the voice for the unheard, to not do something you know to be wrong just because it is easier or because ‘everyone else is doing it’.

When faced with a decision or a problem, it is sometimes easy to ‘go with the flow’ and do what everyone else is doing but it is far more important to stick to our morals, to break away from the pack and do the right thing, after all:

right

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu is a Sanskrit mantra which means:

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”

Namaste,

Natalie

 

Peace Pagoda & Lake Tewa

Peace Pagoda & Lake Tewa

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Today we visited the Shanti Stupa, shanti being Sanskrit for peace and stupa being pagoda, an immaculate white shrine atop Ananda Hill that was built by a Japanese monk.

Balanced on a narrow ridge, 1,100 metres above sea level, the brilliant-white World Peace Pagoda was constructed by Nipponzan Myohoji clan monk Morioka Sonin. The entire initiative was led by Nichidatsu Fujii, the founder of Nipponzan Myohoji clan of Buddhism who is famously known as the initiator of constructing Peace Pagodas across the world.

Situated high above Phewa Tal, the Pagoda is one of the major tourist attractions of Pokhara. It has got two tiers for tourists and religious people to circumnavigate. The second tier consists of 4 statues of Buddha gifted as souvenirs from Japan, Sri Lanka, China and Lumbini (the birth place of Buddha) in Nepal.

Shanti Stupa is the shrine built as a symbol of peace which got me thinking, there are so many definitions of peace and different types of peace from inner peace to world peace.

I found this quote that talks about peace of mind that I really like:

“Peace of mind is not the absence of conflict from life, but the ability to cope with it.” ~Unknown

What is your favourite peace quote? What does peace mean to you?

Om, Shanti.

 

P.S. Please feel free to add your favourite quotes in the comments section. 🙂

P.P.S. If you would like to visit my travel Blog, please click on the hyperlinked title above.

Day 10- 8/10: Australian Base Camp to Pokhara via Khare

The Magic of Metamorphosis

“We are all butterflies. Earth is our chrysalis.”-  LeeAnn Taylor

Today was our last day of our trek in the Annapurna region of Nepal (See: Australian Base Camp to Pokhara via Khare to help me celebrate this amazing feat). As I reflect on the last 10 days; the beauty I have witnessed, the happiness of the people and the serenity of nature. All of what I have experienced reminded me of a poem that I read a long time ago and resonated with me deeply. I feel that this poem encapsulates my experiences trekking in Nepal.

“-We need more love, to supersede hatred,

-We need more strength, to resist our weaknesses;

-We need more inspiration, to lighten up our innermind.

-We need more learning, to erase our ignorance,

-We need more wisdom, to live longer and happier,

-We need more truths, to suppress deceptions,

-We need more health, to enjoy our wealth,

-We need more peace, to stay in harmony with our brethren

-We need more smiles, to brighten up our day,

-We need more hero’s, and not zero’s,

-We need more change of ourselves, to change the lives of others,

-We need more understanding, to tackle our misunderstanding,

-We need more sympathy, not apathy,

-We need more forgiveness, not vengeance,

-We need more humility to be lifted up,

-We need more patience and not undue eagerness,

-We need more focus, to avoid distraction,

-We need more optimism, not pessimism

-We need more justice, not injustice,

-We need more facts, not fiction,

-We need more education, to curb illiteracy,

-We need more skills, not incompetence,

-We need more challenges, to make attempts,

-We need more talents, to create the extraordinary,

-We need more helping hands, not stingy folks,

-We need more efforts, not laziness,

-We need more jokes, to forget our worries,

-We need more spirituality, not mean religion,

-We need more freedom, not enslavement,

-We need more peacemakers, not revolutionaries…with these, we create a heaven on Earth.” – Michael Bassey Johnson

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What type of Earth do you want to create?

Namaste,

Natalie

Day 9- 7/10: Tolka to Australian Base Camp (10.29 kms)

On self-worth & Inner Strength

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think,” said Christopher Robin to Pooh. –AA Milne

One thing I learnt from trekking in Nepal (Please visit my travel blog: Tolka to Australian Base Camp) was that I am stronger, more resilient and more capable than I ever thought I was. Today I feel like I have the inner strength of a Warrior.

So, for my second last post from the Annapurna region trek, I’d like to share with you Warrior II Pose. Warrior II is a strong, powerful pose, which always makes me feel capable of achieving anything, which I now know is true.

 

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Warrior II

 

The term ‘Warrior’ shouldn’t be interpreted as a negative; the idea is that you are a strong compassionate warrior, facing challenges and gaining strength from your practice. As with all aspects of Yoga, the idea is of non-violence and compassion.

Disclaimer: While I am a certified yoga teacher, if you have any issues or concerns, please check with your doctor before performing the pose below. As always, listen to your body and modify as necessary.

Warrior II Pose:

  1. Standing, spread the legs apart about three feet, one foot pointing forwards, one turning slightly inwards.
  2. Raise the arms outwards, palms face down, shoulders relaxed.
  3. On an inhale, bend the front knee deeply, and turn the head to face the outstretched hand on that side.
  4. The waist and centre of the body should remain facing forwards.
  5. Breathe.
  6. Smile.
  7. Hold for a count of three deep inhales and exhales through the nose, and repeat on the other side of the body.

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Namaste,

Natalie

Day 8- 6/10: Jhinu to Tolka (16.94 kms)

The Chakras

Hey Natalie, why am I hearing about the chakras a lot lately?

Lately, the concept of a mind-body-soul connection has become more popular and accepted within many ‘Western’ cultures, but it has been a governing philosophy in many Eastern cultures for thousands of years. Let me take you back a step first…

What are the chakras?

There are many powerful energetic centres located in the human body, and they are most commonly referred to as “chakras”. This Sanskrit word originated in India, and literally translated, means disk, vortex, or wheel.

In yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda, the chakras are said to draw energy from the world into our bodies while simultaneously sending energy from our bodies out into the world, connecting us to our environment on a deeper level.

Although our bodies consist of a number of energy centres, we tend to focus on the seven major chakras, which align the spine, starting from the base of the spine through to the crown of the head. Each chakra comprises of energy relating to specific life lessons and experiences, and each one is associated with a particular element and colour based on the frequency of vibrations (please see below).

To visualize a chakra in the body, imagine a swirling wheel of energy where matter and consciousness meet. This invisible energy, called Prana, is vital life force, which keeps us vibrant, healthy, and alive.

What are the 7 major Chakras and what do they do?

RootThe Root Chakra

Functions: Safety, grounding, right to live

 

 

SacralThe Sacral Chakra

Functions: Emotions, creativity, sexuality

 

 

Solar PlexusThe Solar Plexus Chakra

Functions: Will, social self, power

 

 

HeartThe Heart Chakra

Functions: Compassion, love, integration

 

 

ThroatThe Throat Chakra

Function: Personal truth, etheric, expression

 

 

Third EyeThe Third Eye Chakra

Functions: Extrasensory perception, intuition, inspiration

 

 

CrownThe Crown Chakra

Functions: Wisdom, transcendence, universality

 

 

Why am I writing about Chakras?

Well, I am currently on my last few days of trekking in Nepal (See: Jhinu to Tolka if you want to find out where today’s inspiration came from) and it is my belief that not only is hiking good for the physical body, mind, and spirit but also for our chakras. This is because each chakra also relates to a sense and an element:

  • First chakra (Root) = smell/earth
  • Second chakra (Sacral) = taste/water
  • Third chakra (Solar Plexus) = sight/fire
  • Fourth chakra (Heart) = touch/air
  • Fifth chakra (Throat) = hearing/sound
  • Sixth chakra (Third Eye)= “sixth sense”/light
  • Seventh chakra (Crown) is off the body and unrelated to the sensory world, so it has no associations, except to pure consciousness.

Therefore, when you are hiking you are stimulating all your senses (smell, sight, touch, sound, and taste- as taste and smell are strongly linked- or so my friend, who is a scientist, tells me). You are also connecting with the earth with every step you take, fuelling your body with water, filling your lungs with pure fresh air (most people hike in pristine locations not dirty, polluted ones), indulging in the sounds of nature and exposing your bare skin and eyes to light. I cannot think of a better way to heal and awaken your chakras.

Namaste,

Natalie

Day 7- 5/10: Lower Sinuwa to Jhinu (Hot Springs) (10.00+ kms)

Rest, Relax and Recharge.

As you may know, my most recent blogs have been revolving around my travels with my husband in Nepal. Today, as I sat in the hot spring (See: Lower Sinuwa to Jhinu Hot Springs), I could feel all my tight, stressed muscles relaxing and knew that it was far more than just the last 7 days of hiking being released. As all the tension that we had been holding in our overworked bodies slowly vanished, I thought about how often throughout this year I had actually taken the time to rest, relax and recharge.

Everybody knows the importance of adequate rest and relaxation in order to recharge our bodies, minds and spirits, but let’s be honest, how much time do we actually devote to resting and relaxing? I know I am guilty of doing work while I am supposed to be sitting relaxing and watching a movie with my husband. I imagine that I am not alone here.

In a busy, fast paced world where we are trying to squeeze everything in, one thing that I do find useful when I need a quick rest, relax and recharge is Nadi Sodhana, or alternative nostril breathing. Below you can read a little bit about this relaxing pranayama and follow my step by step guide so you can practise this at home or at work or whenever you need a little ‘pick-me-up’.

What is Nadi Sodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)?

Alternate nostril breathing may sound a little strange at first but once you know how easy it is to incorporate into your routine and how calming it is on your entire body, you’ll be addicted.

So, let’s jump straight to what you are probably thinking at this stage of the blog: How can you breathe out of one nostril at a time and why would you want to? Using your fingers to block off one nostril at a time as you breathe through the other, you alternate your breath between nostrils. Alternating your breath between nostrils in a regular pattern is not only extremely relaxing but also has a balancing and calming effect.

This method is traditionally thought to balance the two sides of your brain and to clear the Nadis, which are energy channels that run along the base of the spine to the crown of the head and recent research suggests that this breathing technique can reduce your blood pressure.

Instructions:

  1. You can practice this breathing technique in any seated position. Make yourself comfortable in Sukasana (Easy Pose) or any other pose in which you feel comfortable, or if you prefer, sit in a chair. You will be sitting for several minutes, so use props as necessary so you can maintain your posture.
  2. Position your right hand in Vishnu mudra by folding your pointer and middle fingers into your palm, leaving your thumb, ring finger, and pinky sticking up (see picture below).
  3. Bring your thumb to the right side of your nose and your ring finger to the left side.
  4. Close your eyes or take a soft gaze downward. Inhale and exhale once to prepare.
  5. Close off your right nostril with your thumb.
  6. Inhale through your left nostril.
  7. Close off your left nostril with your ring finger.
  8. Open and exhale through your right nostril.
  9. Inhale through your right nostril.
  10. Close off your right nostril with your thumb.
  11. Open and exhale through your left nostril.
  12. Inhale through your left nostril.
  13. At first, you might only make it through a few rounds of this breath. Try to work up to doing at least 10 rounds. You can always take a break and then resume the exercise.
  14. If you mind begins to wander, focus on counting the length of your inhales and exhales or on the sensation of your breath on the skin under your nose. It may feel cool as you inhale and warm as you exhale.
  15. If you ever begin to feel light headed, release both nostrils and breath normally.

Disclaimer: While I am a certified yoga teacher, if you have any issues or concerns, please check with your doctor before performing the above breathing technique. As always, listen to your body and modify take breaks as necessary.

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Vishnu mudra

Additional Advice: If you are a little congested, expect this pranayama to move the mucus out so have some tissues handy. However, if you are too stuffed up to breathe out of either nostril you won’t be able to get the intended benefits, so wait until the air passageways are clear to do this exercise.

Benefits

  • Lowers heart rate and reduces stress and anxiety.
  • Said to synchronize the two hemispheres of the brain.
  • Said to purify the subtle energy channels (Nadis) of the body so the prana flows more easily during pranayama practice.

Contraindications

If any of the below are experienced, discontinue the Pranayama exercises and allow the breath to return to normal.

  • Difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath.
  • Tightness in the chest, or hardness behind the forehead.

Cautions

  • Avoid holding the breath.
  • Do not practice Nadi Sodhana if you have a blocked nose.

 

Namaste,

Natalie

Day 6- 4/10: ABC to Lower Sinuwa (38.65 kms)

 

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At Annapurna Base Camp

 

I am happiest when I am in nature. For those who haven’t been following along my journey in the Annapurna region, this is my 6th day of trekking (please click on the hyperlink if you’d like to read my travel blog: ABC to Lower Sinuwa). I have spent 6 days completely in nature and have surrounded by absolute beauty, listened to the sounds of birds, insects, rivers, waterfalls, and the wind rustling the leaves on the trees and that’s all I need to be truly happy- to appreciate and be content. So, that got me thinking, what is happiness? Is it the reliance of other people or things that make us happy or is it being content with what you have, enjoying and appreciating all that life provides you with and living in the moment?

About happiness

In the end these things matter most:

How well did you love?

How fully did you live?

How deeply did you learn to let go?

–    Jack Kornfield

Conditional Happiness

Conditional happiness is not true happiness. Attaching your happiness to another person or object means that you are projecting the cause of your happiness on the condition that you will have this person/ thing in your life. This is dangerous because they then control your happiness and it is an entity outside of yourself. To me, this indicates a lack of the most important feelings to be nurtured in every person. Don’t get me wrong happiness does not necessarily mean being free from attachment but it certainly does not depend on any one person or a condition.

True Happiness or unconditional happiness

True happiness has no reasons such as a new love, a better job or having fun with our friends. The unconditional happiness that is our true nature is always there, no matter whether good or bad things are happening – it’s the essence of what and who we are. Unconditional happiness is built on a foundation of self-worth and self-love. A place of self-love and self-worth will enable us to stand alone and rejoice in any experience that we have had, knowing that it was an opportunity to learn, grow and evolve as a human being.

This takes me back to the 3 questions posed at the beginning of this blog: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you learn to let go?

It seems to me that unless you are unconditionally happy you can never truly answer any of these questions. If you are unconditionally happy there will never be failure in your life, simply a learning experience for the soul.

The first thing that matters is how much you have loved. I think what is really being said here is that it’s important to allow love to be the basis for our thoughts, words and deeds. It is also about treating people with loving kindness. It is enjoying and appreciating all that life provides you with.

The second part has to do with “living fully.” To me this means living pro-actively, going out and having lots of different experiences and ideally, learning as much as possible from all your experiences. It is also about living in the moment. How can you live fully if you are always focusing on the past or the future?

The third part talks about letting go. This could be a multitude of things- money and material possessions are at the top of my list of things to let go of. Then there is social status and referring to yourself as your position or profession. Next, your negative beliefs and opinions will have to be let go of as well to be truly happy. It is being content with what you have and who you are.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.”- Albert Schweitzer

Namaste,

Natalie