What is true happiness? Many people have asked that question, me included.
Others have found different answers. For me, the answer is in my breathing.
When I was a student at university I had so many questions about life. I was
bored. With the education system, with what was happening around me, with
all the seemingly meaningless daily activities. What was the value of living?
Why was I even born? Obviously my life at that time was not a happy one.
But I kept searching for an answer.
One day I took part in an activity of the Buddhist club at the university.
I started practicing Buddhism. I walked into the forest,
chanted––– and discussed the way it is: Dharma.
I still didn’t have the answer to all my questions, but I’d discovered an
entry point for my search, leading me to a better understanding of life.
I studied and tried many techniques. But ‘Yuk!’ those unwanted feelings:
Dhukka, would always find me. My roommate would turn on the radio,
disturb my meditation practice displeasing me and ‘aagghh!’ the precept
would be broken. But out of this an important question came to me.
Was I Ever Really Calm?
Of course true happiness occurs independent of external conditions.
My practice had to change. What could I do? Was there anything that
would enable me to attain this kind of happiness?
One day I read a sentence. It was just one sentence read in a book!
‘Yoga is a science that leads to self discovery’. I grabbed the book.
Before reading that sentence, like many others I thought yoga was another
way of torturing yourself, like being a yogi. But yoga is more like being a cat,
in a peaceful place, with a quiet mind, the cat likes to stretch. There are many
schools of yoga and each school can lead to self discovery and living happily.
While I practiced yoga, I tried other things. But in the end I found yoga the most
suitable. We all breathe, we breathe all the time. We usually don’t notice our
breathing, except when we have a cold, or when we’re tired and unable to
catch our breath etc. We’re unaware of the rhythm, how it comes, how it goes.
With yoga the body moves and the breath is in harmony with all the postures.
Breathing that was short and shallow becomes long and deep. By observing
the body breathing one’s thought is cleared, mind calmed and made stable as never before.
Inhaling? Unbelievable! To the palms! To the feet! Then that moment! Body at one with breath. Beyond World! Beyond Self!
I practice yoga everyday, examining my breathing. And believe me, life changes.
Things that disturbed me now move past like pictures. With a still mind I see and
think crystal clear. Ponder? I Decide! With no reluctance, without fear as before.
Yoga improves health. I used to be sick and skinny. I used to faint easily, had headaches frequently, and fever. Now when I have a fever I use the breathing practice of Prana, breathing deeper and longer than usual. I have a good night’s sleep and wake completely recovered.
A worthwhile life is lived usefully. Because I want to do as many good things as
I can, I take care of my life. I take care what I eat, of my emotions and my environment. All has to go together. Yoga is not the practice that keeps us clear of all unpleasantness or suffering, all-too-human emotions still occur, but the practice helps us to know , to stay more friendly with them and control them. And if we know ourselves we can understand and avoid causing suffering to others.
I used to fear unpleasantness. I wanted only to encounter things that were beautiful, easy, and comfortable. I would walk in the forest in winter when the forest is most beautiful and the air is sweet. Once I ventured there in the hot and dry season and sweated all over.
I sat and focused on my breathing. My body cooled. The fallen leaves about me I had overlooked before became amazingly beautiful. I noticed that the teak forest and dry mountain before me in the strong summer sunlight were a noble purple.
When I look back on my life, all that has happened are like the seasons. All of it can be appreciated. And because I no longer regret my past I am unafraid of the future.
Now I face the sides of life I used to avoid. I discovered the dry season has its own beauty. Likewise the Dhukka.
More than ten years yoga has been an important part of my life. In that time I have never stopped doing Yoga, never got bored even when I was pregnant. It helps me physically and emotionally.
The gentle practice of watching one’s breath and feel body sensations. It can be done anywhere. We are always breathing, in this respect all lives are one. We sit in the same room, this world, and share the Prana.
We share the breath of life.
Yes it’s good. Live On Earth. Do Yoga. Enjoy True Happiness That Lasts, That Sustains.
Published on magazine…Life and family…1999