Like stress, happiness can be cultivated. The mind is a powerful medium. Here's a guide, rearranged and abridged from The New Meditation Handbook.
- Become aware of your breath. To feel the sensation is to be alive and present. Try to think more clearly by quieting the mind.
- Take out external conditions from your happiness equation. There are things you cannot control and impending changes that have a tendency to affect our moods. Look within.
- Aim for enlightenment and Buddha-like balance -- wish for pure and lasting happiness.
- Beware of extremes and delusions. Recognize everything is an illusion. Along those lines -- perception is not reality, it is deception. Emptiness is not nothingness but is the real nature of phenomena; it is the way things really are as opposed to the way they appear.
- Exude the positive. Our suffering is a result of our own actions. Each action leaves an imprint on our souls -- so sow more positive seeds.
- Break the cycle of wandering meaninglessly, without freedom. Remove roadblocks, literal and figurative, to a smoother ride.
- Rinse and repeat. Return to your concentration. Increase your enthusiasm. Improve your understanding of the process. Familiarity of action, reaction breeds peace and calm.
- Let it go. Eliminate attachment to goals. Separation anxiety arises from the fear of abandonment, loss and departure. Stop grasping:
- Appreciate what you have. Chasing continued satisfaction is feeding the ever-hungry beast in the black hole. (Mo' money, mo' problems)
- Be okay with death and live in the moment like it's your last meaningful day.
- Choose compassion. Be virtuous.
If your mind is not peaceful, we will never be happy, even if our external conditions are perfect ... without inner peace, there is no real happiness at all. The more we control our mind, the more our inner peace increases and the happier we become.
The more desires and plans we have, the more frustrations we experience. The more we want certain situations, the more we find ourself in situations we do not want. Every desire seems to invite its own obstacle. Undesired situations arise without our looking for them. In fact, the only things that come effortlessly are the things we do not want.
Ko Im is a certified 200-hour vinyasa yoga instructor who has facilitated meditation overseas and leads workshops.