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Happiness 101

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Happiness: From the Inside-Out

I spent the better part of this Fall in India, and I am still “digesting” a rich experience – from the Himalayan Institute’s Khajuraho campus to a visit with Maher, a refuge for at-risk women and children for whom I volunteer. Days spent in deep meditation and reflection, then living with people who are desperately poor (even in danger) yet full of life, love, even happiness: it’s always a lot to absorb and integrate.

I was explaining to a group of students who have been with me for years, why I cancelled Saturday’s class (where I planned to share from India) because I couldn’t “zero in.”  More has happened/is happening inside me than I even know, let alone am able to articulate. Instead I have visions of some new programs for Turning Light where we’ll explore the depth and breadth that yoga has to offer us in terms of living life, of being Happy (from the inside out), … one of them said “oh- like Happy 101”.

The Goal of Life is love, happiness, freedom from pain and suffering.  (Swami Rama)

It resonated with me. Yes, as Swami Rama reminded us in a video, the Goal of Life is love, happiness, freedom from pain and suffering. This is really what I am all about, what Turning Light is all about, and what I long to share.

The bottom line is that we (in the West) are “searching for love [and happiness] in all the wrong places” as the old song goes. According to yoga, happiness isn’t a fleeting experience based in external circumstances. True happiness, or freedom from suffering as the Buddhists say, comes from inside, and is independent of external circumstances. I am learning it’s not about “addition” (of stuff, knowledge, etc.) but more a matter of “subtraction”: examining and letting go of out-dated beliefs, habits, defenses and walls, self-limiting ideas, etc.

But how do we get there?   Let me count the ways ….

What I know: the current 1 year “Joyful Living” study group is nearing its completion.  This has been a supportive and life-changing group for all of us.  A new group will begin in February, enrollment open now. I am also changing up the Tuesday evening Yin class to be more directed toward meditation, pranayama, and supporting a daily practice. Working title: The Art & Joy of Meditation.

What I don’t know/am still designing: Yoga offers a whole host of info, practices and tools toward understanding more of who we are and how to achieve the Goal of Life.  2016 will bring an expanded curriculum where we will look at various “lenses” from yoga to help all of us experience more Happiness. Some of the classes will be stand-alone, but there will be a true year-long “Happiness 101” course, for those that really want to dive in yet don’t want to become yoga teachers, just lead a richer life! (Note: yoga is not a religion; in fact looking at parallel teachings, quotes etc. from other traditions enriches our study!) And, to build off Swami Rama’s long-ago course: The Path of Fire, Light, and Joy…?

If any of this sounds intriguing to you, and you would like to be part of shaping what the new curriculum looks like, I have included a short survey below.

Wishing you and yours, and all that is part of the web of life, prosperity, joy, and a return to Light.



Survey: (note- it might be easiest to copy and paste this to an email and answer in the email)  As my Thank You for completing the survey, please accept a $10 discount off one workshop, study group, or other non-asana class.

  1.  Which of these topics would you be interested in studying? (mark any and all, ranking from most interested to least interested, please!)
  • Ayurveda
  • Evolution of yogic philosophy (eg summary of definition and differences of Vedanta, Samkhya, Tantra especially)
  • What is the mind, how is it structured, how does it constrain us and liberate us?
  • Different developmental models that can help us know ourselves and become more free …for example: kleshas (sources of suffering), koshas (sheaths/layers of us), ashramas (stages of life), antahkarana (mind as instrument), tanmatras (evolutes of consciousness & matter), pranavayus (5 forms of prana/life force), 8 Limbs Yoga, Yamas + Niyamas (Foundational Jewels of living),  …)
  • Yoga Sutras
  • Master practices such as agni sara (perhaps internal fire ceremony?)
  • Pranayama and meditation
  • ?? something additional on your “list”??
  1. If you were to commit to a year long study course, how much time in class, and how much time out of class would you be willing to invest in yourself per month? Per week?
  2. Do you prefer Mon eve, Wed eve, Friday eve, Saturday, Sunday or a combination?
  3. Do you prefer fewer but longer sessions or more frequent shorter sessions?
  4. Would you be more or less available (or no difference) in the summer?
  5. Complete this sentence:  “If I were to dive more deeply into yoga, such as Happiness 101, after a year, I would expect to be/feel _____________________” and/or “After a year, I would expect my life would be different in that ______________________”
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