By Wannabe Happy
We are moving into week 6, a crucial week in the process. Hopefully you are still practicing the yoga and meditation exercises we learned in previous weeks as well as the principles and guides to begin to look at the world with a different set of eyes. Hopefully you are now seeing your connection to the world, seeing that not only do you live and operate in society, you are an active part in the change you want to see inside of yourself and inside of others. You are more in control of your actions than you think. True, you may not be in control of the fruit of your actions, but your attitude and behavior have effects on the world around you that you may or may not have the ability to witness first hand. You must trust in your “self”, have faith that the positive energy you are putting back into the world is being felt and fostering change.
The principles we will discuss this week will require you to be able to breathe comfortably and easily as we practiced in our meditation exercises. In order to process some of the concepts we will discuss in week 6, it will take for you to be able to close your eyes, breathe comfortably and really bring focus and attention to the ideas introduced. Have confidence, you can do it, true happiness is awaiting you, it is already with you, you just have to dig a little for it.
Day 1: Differentiating between needs and desires.
In previous weeks we talked about making plans and setting goals. This is something we have been revisiting because setting goals is fun, it makes us human, it gives us drive. Today, let’s look at our plans/goals we set for ourselves in weeks 1 and 5 and set the right intention for our plans/goals. Some of the things we want to achieve will make us better contributors to society, will open our eyes to different cultures and have many other effects. However, we cannot confuse pleasure with happiness. We must be cautious in not letting our goals and desires be the stumbling blocks on our road to happiness. True happiness relates more to the mind and heart and is not dependent on physical pleasure. Physical pleasure can be unstable and come and go with the wind.
Day 2: Find a retreat.
First let’s change our thoughts on what modern society has put in our heads about retreats. I am not referencing packing up your bags and heading off to the middle of Thailand. Although that may sound nice. A retreat is just a place of solitude, a quiet space, or space that represents peace for you. For example, I have a corner of my home at a particular time of day that is completely quiet. I go there on a daily basis to clear my mind, close my eyes and just spend time with myself, taking a look inside at my thoughts. For some it may be a particular part of the nearest park, a space on their balcony, a section of their office. Whatever the space may be, try to make it a place where you can go on a regular basis. This will be a place for you to go and find silence, find that the answers to happiness are not in spoken words, it is in the quietness of the mind.
Day 3: Find a peace reminder.
Find something that reminds you to breathe easy, remain calm and hold on to the concepts we are learning in the 8 weeks to happiness. It may be a small object that you can carry around in your pocket or purse. It may be an object that you keep in your retreat space. It may be a journal that you have kept throughout the process. Something that allows you to revisit these principles in your mind as you move into the final weeks. You do not want to stop after the 8 weeks, you want to push forward. Happiness is inside of you and if you need an object to remind you of that then do whatever it takes to keep that thought at the center of your thoughts. I carry one with me and I call it a “piece of mind.”
Day 4: Understanding the two types of love and compassion.
This day is more active. You will need to take about 10 minutes to contemplate these thoughts. Just sit down, in your quiet space and think about the love you feel for your children, husband, wife, significant other, friend, or parent. Any one of those will do. Think about how you give them love and you strive for them to love you back; how you do things for them and you expect their love in return. Now think about how you feel when they offend or hurt you. Think about how it is difficult to show love or affection when you have felt in any way that the love you have given has either been betrayed or not returned in the way you have expected. This love or compassion is unstable, it is linked with emotional attachments. Now I would like for you to imagine love and compassion free from those emotional attachments. Imagine love and compassion based on this one rationale “All human beings have an innate desire to be happy and overcome suffering, just like myself. And just like myself, they have the natural right to fulfill this aspiration.” For ten minutes today, think about the text in quotations and let that settle into your mind.
Day 5: Meditation on Peace.
Sit quietly and relax your breath. Take slow gentle, deep breaths as learned in the meditation technique from previous weeks. Now when you have come into comfort with your breath, imagine how you will feel when you are completely at peace. Imagine how life will be when you are content with your current environment. Think about how you will breathe, how you will feel, how you will walk, how you will talk, how you will look at life. Imagine the smile you will carry with you all day. Close your eyes and let those images sink into your thoughts… Just breathe and let your mind flow in and out of those thoughts. At the end… ask yourself… “Why can’t I breathe, walk, talk, feel and smile like that now?” If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. Happiness is yours, it is at your finger tips, you just have to reach out and grab it.
Day 6 & 7: “Weekend”.
These two days we will consider our weekend. Like all weekends, we either rest from our week or catch up on what we missed out on during the week. Take the same approach here. Either revisit a concept from Days 1-5 of this week or from the previous weeks that you enjoyed or didn’t quite grasp totally. Whether it is doing the yoga poses, trying another vegan, vegetarian or healthy restaurant or practicing some of the meditation techniques. Think about the week and continue to practice the principles learned. Continue trying to make them a habit in your life.
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