By Melanie Richards
- Yoga is a path to Enlightenment
In my opinion, the denial of pleasure as a show of commitment to the spiritual path is an outdated paradigm based on old-school religious doctrine. Yoga is a loving path to enlightenment that holds all the wisdom we need to “lighten up” by working through the pain and suffering that weighs us down. Joy, laughter, love and not taking ourselves too seriously are all enlightened qualities. Not only are they good for the soul, they ARE the soul!
- Just say no to drama
Most of the time, the only thing standing in the way of a good mood is habitual negative thinking yet trying to control every thought that goes through the mind is both an exhausting and futile exercise. Instead, try practicing mindfulness – non-judgmental present awareness – and observe the negative thoughts as they happen without getting roped into their petty drama.
You don’t have to believe the bully in your mind that whacks you upside the head with feelings of guilty every time you try to relax and have fun. “What about those dishes?” “You still have so much work to do”, “What if you relax and something bad happens?” “You don’t deserve to have fun”. I affectionately refer to my voices as “the gremlins”. Those tricky little saboteurs gather power and momentum the more you believe in them and identify with them. So next time they pipe up offering some lame reason why you can’t enjoy your life, choose not to entertain them, feed them or react to them. The precious energy normally spent battling your gremlins will then be freed up to connect with and enjoy the moment!
- Stop comparing yourself and follow your own Dharma
How many times have you looked at your facebook or instagram feed and felt better about yourself?
That’s what I thought.
From a yogic perspective, we are all on this earth school for one reason: to fulfill our Dharma – our life’s purpose. Each one of us has something unique that we are here to contribute, so we need to stop wasting time keeping up with the Kardashians and start figuring out what drives our soul. I guarantee if you shift your focus away from how you measure up and onto how you can make the world better, you will feel lighter.
“It is better to strive in one’s own dharma than to succeed in the dharma of another. Nothing is ever lost in following one’s own dharma. But competition in another’s dharma breeds fear and insecurity. By fulfilling the obligations he is born with, a person never comes to grief.”
– Bhagavad Gita
More than that, we need to collaborate and help each other carry out our missions instead of standing by waiting for each other to fail because of a false belief that another’s happiness and success is somehow taking away from our own. On the contrary, to quote Marianne Williamson, “We are all meant to shine, as children do… And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
- Practice gratitude
The other day, I was talking to my dear friend and master yogi Bhaskar Goswami about relationships and he said to me, “You want to know the antidote to all negativity in life?” You bet I did. After a long pause he said one simple word: Gratitude.
Life is short and gratitude helps us to be present to each moment and make the most out of it. It teaches us to deeply appreciate the good times and to be thankful for lessons learned in the hard times. It helps us focus on what we have and not on what we lack. The energy of gratitude is expansive, generous and light. Plus, it’s impossible to feel grateful and angry or resentful at the same time.
Gratitude is a visceral feeling that’s meant to be experienced and not just understood as a theory, so even if you aren’t convinced, I encourage you to write down five things you are grateful for at the end of each day and see for yourself how a change in perception can lighten up your life!