5 Steps to Happiness

5 Steps to Happiness

by James Brown from the Huffington Post

Which are you doing right now, living or waiting? Various yoga practices are all techniques for becoming skilled at living more and waiting less, so that we get to make the most of this human experience. Last month, I was teaching a pose called hanumanasana, and it reminded me of the time that I first learned how to channel my energy toward being more fully present in each moment.

Hanumanasana is more commonly called "the splits", with the floor of the pelvis on the ground, one leg stretched out in front, the other reaching straight behind, and with the torso upright. For most people, getting into it safely only comes after much work.

As I was teaching it, I mentioned that it's named after Hanuman, a Hindu deity who takes the form of a monkey. A student asked why, so I explained that the pose, which looks like a giant leap, represents the myth about Hanuman, who, in immediate need of medicine for a relative, crossed the ocean in one giant step. He was able to do so because of his tremendous devotion to his family. Devotion itself is one of the things that Hanuman represents, and this story illustrates the concept that, through true devotion we are able to overcome the limitations that we place upon ourselves when we identify with the physical.

Although I don't believe that the literal Hanuman has ever existed, I find the symbology in the Hindu pantheon of deities to be invaluable in directing my life toward a happier place. I use these myth figures as metaphors for actual parts of myself. They teach me how to work with different facets of my experience in a way that has been highly beneficial.

When I first learned that Hanuman represents the power of devotion, I realized that I didn't consciously devote myself to anything, really. I had been so anti-devotion since leaving the Catholic church in my 20s, that I'd become resistant to a cognizant devotion to anything.

But, I knew I had to be devoted to something, whether I had named it or not, because I was putting out a lot of energy toward something every day, as we all do. So I took a good look at the recipients of that energy. The insight I got then, and still get every day, from that particular kind of self-study has changed my life for the better. Here is a breakdown of how it happened:

1. Pay attention to what you are doing.

Actions speak louder than words, so I took measure of my actions to see where my energy was going.

In the viewpoint of yoga philosophy, it's stated repeatedly that a person is what her or his actions are. You are what you do, but the "do" is less about visible behaviors and more about the thought patterns that fuel them. Your experience in this life is defined by the content of the mind in those experiences.

In this first step, examine where your energy and focus go. First, look at your actions and thoughts, and then go deeper by identifying the patterns that underlie them. Until you deal with the underlying pattern of thinking, the surface behaviors and thoughts will not change.

2. Discern which patterns serve you.

Now, ask yourself if each behavior is helping or hurting. Specifically, is it taking you closer to the infinite now or toward strengthening harmful identity with things?

When I did this, I saw that the output that was most beneficial came from the energy I put into my yoga practice and into teaching yoga practice to others. That pattern of behavior had taken me to a new life. Indeed, I was devoted to the lineage of teachers that preceded me, and to the students that will follow and, above all, to the practice itself.

So, I discerned that my yoga practice was a good pattern for me. But, that doesn't mean that the same is true for you. A behavior that takes me closer to the true self could actually take you further from it.

I can't tell you what to do with your life. As a teacher, I trust that my students are wise enough to make these decisions on their own. Deep down, we all know what is good for us. In this step, we find what we are doing right…

…keep reading the full & original article HERE