Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Friendliness toward happiness

Have you noticed how the same activities feel different day to day? One day you wake up early to go to work, another day you are dragging your body. One day you exercise with ease and enthusiasm, the next day lifting your head feels like lifting weights. Same activity, completely different experience. What changes?

For me, I've noticed it sometimes has to do with my body (not enough sleep, wrong foods) but always with my thoughts. For example: "I am so tired" or "I don't want to do this", or "what if I can't do this?", or "what if this doesn't work?", or "you always do this," or"I can't believe I have to deal with this", or "how dare so-and-so do this?" You get the idea. It's about resisting whatever I don't like. Tough for me, because it is what it is. It's not about me.

Patanjali defines aversion in the Yoga Sutras as "the dwelling upon pain", one of the primal causes of suffering. At the other end of the spectrum is attachment, "the dwelling upon pleasure". It's enough to give anyone whiplash. It seems to me that the suffering happens because I am too quick to make my happiness contingent upon experiencing pleasure. So does that mean I am doomed to give up my happiness every time I don't like what happens? The actions of others are not within my control! I don't want to give away control over my happiness. It occurs to be that if I identify as a calm observer, a peaceful soul having adventures, experiences, that don't have to go one way or another, then what happens doesn't matter as much. Patanjali suggests cultivating an attitude of friendliness toward happiness. Inviting it in when I don't feel it. Also, compassion toward suffering. Does that mean I can allow myself to be happy anytime AND forgive myself and others for forgetting? Hmmm...

What do you think?