16 Effective Ways To Dissolve Unhappiness

 

dissolving clouds - copyright Tanushree Vaidya

Perhaps a deep rooted joy and peace does not lie in the pursuit of happiness, but in addressing the contributors to one’s perception of unhappiness.

Popular today are encouragements to think positive, happy and grateful thoughts. And if that comes easily and naturally, stay with that! However, there are many, myself included, who have discomfort with denying current feelings. Instead of ‘faking it’ till it feels real, I prefer to acknowledge, examine and allow whatever is my truth in the moment. The wonderful thing about impermanence is that no matter what it is, or how intense it feels, it will surely pass. But in the interim period, instead of arguing it away, or disowning it, here are some simple things we can do to help ourselves regain centredness.

The suggestions have been organized to look at things from a physical level, emotional level and then eventually from a higher perspective.

At a Physical Level:

We have a body to care for and its well-being is closely co-related with our emotional state, ability to think clearly and to be aware. Neglecting some simple, basic requirements of this reality can cascade into greater challenges.

  1. One of the most common and also most neglected needs is our requirement for earthing.  Even as our exposure to electromagnetic frequencies has gone up, our disconnect from earth has grown.  Spend a daily 15-30 minutes with bare feet on the ground/sands and see the difference for yourself.
  2. Exposure to early morning sunlight improves health, regulates circadian rhythm and is helpful in case you are suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
  3. Regular exercise may be the most powerful natural antidepressant available. It stimulates release of endorphins, improves oxygenation, and lowers stress.
  4. Timely, nutritious meals: Eating nutritious food at regular intervals is important.   Fresh fruits and veggies contain vital nutrients which affect mood. Foods containing complex carbs such as brown rice, potatoes, wheat pasta and broccoli often act as comfort foods. Consider the need to include wholegrain cereals, beans, spinach, soya, wheat germ, oats, figs, unsalted seeds and nuts, ginger, basil and rosemary in your diet. Small amounts of dark chocolate can boost your mood, but larger quantities can cause it to plummet. Walnuts, fish and flaxseeds are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids (known to help alleviate depression).
  5. Despite the above, know that many of our foods no longer contain the same quality and quantity of nutrients as before.  It is well known that a Vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread today, especially among vegetarians,  and can be a cause of depression or fatigue.    Check with your doctor to see if you require any supplements: such as Vitamins B & C, Folic Acid, Copper, Iron, Magnesium or Zinc.
  6. Minimize sugar, caffeine, prescription drugs and alcohol. The short lived relief is not worth the long term consequences.
  7. Sleeping and waking up: Disruptions in sleep are highly impactful on weight, mood and energy.  The last thoughts before sleeping affect the quality of rest and the first ones on waking can change our experience of the day.  Instead of the news, or some mindless drama, end the day with a simple question like ‘What did I enjoy today?‘.  There is no need to force a positive answer.  Parking the question is enough.  Similarly, practice asking an interesting question immediately upon waking up, such as ‘I wonder what will bring me joy today?‘, or ‘How can I contribute to the world today?‘.  You will find that you effortlessly begin to notice a difference.
  8. Declutter your physical space: This helps remove distractions, troubling reminders of the past and creates space for something new. It also shifts energies in significant ways.  Empty your fridge and pantry of expired or outdated foods, change the sheets and clean the windows.  You may find yourself seeing more clearly in more than one way!

At an Emotional Level:
(From ‘The Pause Diet – for Joy and Peace‘)

  1. Pause to remind your self – ‘I am experiencing this emotion’.  For example, instead of thinking ‘I am angry’, remind yourself that ‘I am experiencing anger.’  This helps to acknowledge the emotion while not identifying your self with it.  It is a reminder that the emotion is transient and will pass.
  2. Pause to question the cause of this emotion – Very often, the true cause of the emotion is far different from the apparent reason on hand.  Understanding what is really bothering will help you to resolve the emotion as also notice any underlying behaviour patterns.
  3. Pause to breathe – Acknowledgement, acceptance and peace come more easily when you simply return your attention to your breath.  In heightened emotional states, we are setting off a cascade of physiological changes.  These can be moderated by conscious breathing, especially into your heart area.

From a Higher Perspective:

It is practical to question the assumption that ‘I must be happy all the time‘.(Follow the link to read more on this approach.)  Having said that, the following helps create a deeper understanding and allowance of life as it flows:

  1. Create spaciousness: Busyness can be a self sabotage strategy; an unconscious avoidance of difficult introspection and radical decisions that you know you must make.  It can also be a mindless habit that leaves you operating on autopilot.  Deliberately create empty slots in your day, to rest, reflect and rejuvenate.
  2. Reclaim your power and influence: Where have you parked your source of happiness? Who or what have you made your singular object of affection?  Remind yourself that your happiness is only in your hands. See “Home is where the heart is” for a more detailed discussion on this.
  3. Reconnect with nature:  This will bring perspective to your life, your place in the larger scheme of things and help heal your connection to Source.
  4. Contribute to others:  Focusing your attention and actions towards the benefit of someone else will bring you deep fulfilment and begin to dissolve the importance you give to what you consider as a source of unhappiness for you.

Lastly, and importantly, allow all of the above to help you find the clarity and courage to be authentic.  For when we are in alignment with our wholeness and who we are at heart – a peaceful joy becomes our natural state.  A comprehensive article focusing on this aspect can be read at: “Are you singing your own song or dancing to another tune?“.

If you find any of this useful, please share it with others.

Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu!
(May all sentient beings be happy)

 

Image Credit & Copyright: Tanushree Vaidya

Poems: Notice The Underlying Presence

imageMarry the chaos with stillness.
The old with the new.
The known with the unknown.
The distraction around
and the emptiness within.

The spoken and the unspoken.
The tangible and the sensed.
What was hoped for, and has been lost,
What is waiting to be born again.

Include it all.
Integrate everything.
The days of separation are gone.
It is time to bridge the gap in between.

Let there be no more excuses,
No more defense, arguing, procrastinating.

We are but fragments of a whole piece,
Floating in doubt for too long.
Warring lets none of us win
But forces our habitual burdens
Onto the next innocent generation

The blood may have soaked into mud
But the earth still cries,
Its wounds are still raw.
It holds our memories,
The ones we insist on keeping alive

Forgive the ones who came before us
Forgive the ones who never came

We are the answer we have been waiting for
Wake up. Cease apathy now,
It’s time to consciously co-create.

(First published on my FB page on July 2, 2014)

What If Life Is Working For You And Not Against You?

image

We are hardwired and habituated to giving attention to data that matches our beliefs.  The stress of cognitive dissonance, or finding information contradictory to our beliefs, leads us to dismiss or neglect information that challenges our belief systems.

Our survival instincts also tend to heighten the importance we give to our adverse experiences.  So unknowingly, we often reach an unvoiced conclusion: “Life is a struggle.”  Then we set off battling our way through daily challenges, anticipating worst case scenarios and being on the defensive with others and with life itself.

But as ‘A Course in Miracles -Lesson 135′ reminds, “Defences are the plans you undertake to make against the truth. Their aim is to select what you approve, and disregard what you consider incompatible with your beliefs of your reality. Yet what remains is meaningless indeed. For it is your reality that is the “threat” which your defences would attack, obscure, and take apart and crucify.”

Instead of this violent, exhausting, and defining,  “Me-against-the-world” approach, what if we tried a fresh perspective?  What if Byron Katie was right when she said, “Life is simple.  Everything happens for you, not to you.  Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late.  You don’t have to like it… it’s just easier if you do.“?

In the spirit of experimenting with this wholesome philosophy, the above image is offered as a tool to help usher in change.  Access Consciousness, like many other healing and empowerment tools, encourages the practice of staying with the question.  “WWIT” is the shorthand for their oft used phrase – “What Would It Take“.  Instead of looking for specific answers, simply park the above inquiry in your awareness.  You can make the image a wallpaper or screensaver and over the next few days, notice how your ideas of self and experience transform.  You may also like to try the EFT script included in the article, “What’s Good And New?“.

If you enjoy these tools, please share it with your friends and family as well.  May we all find a greater joy, ease and peace in this dance of life!

Are You Being Supportive Or Intrusive?

lions rainforest site

In playing the role of a parent, a caregiver, a supportive friend, a healer, a mentor and the like, one of the most delicate balances to achieve is that between ‘being’ and ‘doing’.  The meaning of these oft used spiritual phrases are likely best understood through personal experience.

Theory cannot restrain the empathy or impulse to reach out actively to the ones we care for.  Nor can we be blind or deaf to the sometimes stated and at other times silent cries for help.  The teachings do not draw clear boundaries demarcating, “Here, it is best you step in.  Here, it is best you wait it out.

Byron Katie’s sound advice to “Mind your own business” will make complete sense at times. And at other times, the Dalai Lama’s words, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.” will make one wonder if not ‘doing’ anything is misguided, or erroneous in some way.

I, myself have struggled with which place to operate from often enough.  I described my swing from ‘Empathy’ to ‘Detachment’, before coming to a more balanced rest at ‘Compassionate Understanding & Non-Attachment’ in my post, “Breathe in Pain, Breathe out Joy”.

But over the years, I have found that the response arising from this understanding can yet take various forms.  There are times when simply being available as a safe, holding space is appropriate and at other times, being straight-forward, as clear and impassive a mirror as one can – is the healthiest response.  There are times intervention is the requirement, for the person may be too emotionally or physically hurt to pick themselves up.  At yet other times, we must sit with the pain of watching loved ones falter  their own way through the falls that teach them how to rise and move on.

This post was prompted by a friend sharing a touching video (see below) with me.  It shows a newly born foal attempting to stand up for the first time.  It reminded me of a similar scene I had witnessed at a stud farm many years ago.  When I reached the stables, the foal was barely five hours old. An awkward, tottering delight, the foal stumbled around as its mother stood by with a fond, watchful eye.

To say I was awestruck would be an understatement.  The foal’s tenacity, determination and also dazed sense of wonder at this whole new world was tangible.  The mother’s pride, concern, patience and overwhelming love was palpable.  I was reeling at the thought of how quickly this animal had to learn to stand on its own feet and how intense this process of learning and caring was.

I could not help but compare this with my own protective watchfulness over my nephew.  (He was only a couple of years old at that time, and had been in my care much of the duration.)  I wondered if I would ever be able to stand back and let him get his own bruises and knocks. How does one ever learn that?

Well, over the years, life teaches us many things.  I found that while it may have taken a couple of decades, I am able to be centered far more often now.  With those closest to me, it is the most difficult.  There is still the occasional temptation to jump right in and urge them to move in a way that I believe would be best.  But I know that such entanglement is not healthy, as at such times I have disconnected from Source.  My identification with a role and my perception of its duties and responsibilities actually interferes with allowing inspiration.  The way to return to flow is by revisiting what I have learned so far:

  • Learning to be comfortable with pain and uncertainty: The more I am at ease with these, the less of the ego-centric, fear- based compulsions to ‘fix things’, prod myself or others.
  • Learning to let go of the need for fixed outcomes: I remind myself that what I imagine as the best outcome may not necessarily be so.  There is much that I do not know.  Whatever happens, eventually turns out for the best.
  • Letting go of the need to play savior: Many of us tend to buy into the savior complex in our early days.  When you find tools and processes that have demonstrated change, you become eager to spare others the pain that you have known.  I remind myself that no matter how close they may be to me – everyone has to lead their own life.  At their own pace.

No amount of the most intelligent, analytical, or disciplined ‘doership’ can substitute for life’s innate wisdom and happening.  Much like the mother horse instinctively knowing when she should nudge her ward, and when she should be available non-intrusively in the background, we too can find the space of being – where all doing arises optimally.

The above are only broad brush strokes of layered subjects.  The critical point being: the more I get myself out of the way, the more empty, present and aware that I become – the more spontaneously and easily – an appropriate response arises.

Then there is no longer any intellectual quandary between being and doing – in its stead is a simple, clear knowing and it’s natural, effortless expression.

PS:  My apologies to those who continue to be at the receiving end of my remaining ‘doership’ habit :)

 

Image Source:  The Rainforest Site FB Page

Preparing For The New (Year)

Pillar of Peace Ho'oponopono

The freshness of the coming year is heralded well before its dawn.

Transitions are rarely cataclysmic, overnight changes like the celebration of a 31st night would have us believe. More often, there are gradual shifts towards a tipping point, followed by an adjustment period of recalibration to a newer way of being.

So for those of us who found 2014 to be an impactful year, the suggestion would be to take the last few days of this year to assimilate and consciously integrate your growth.  There would be habits and complaints to leave behind.  There would be dreams and fears that have now largely dissolved.  There would be relationships that have ended, or begun or changed in irrevocable ways.  There would be unexpressed grief, as also celebrations left incomplete.

Importantly, more loudly than ever before, this year you may have begun to notice the whisper of a voice that invites you to the possibility of a completely new way of being and living.

These are times of tremendous change in the world. And three factors will significantly influence how well we adapt, survive, or thrive from hereon:

  • Our ability to surrender the comfort that comes from familiarity will be a critical factor.  Just as we remain attached to security, nurturing and safety, the themes of apathy, passiveness, resignation, victimhood are also ways we grow accustomed to.  Whether these result in a harmonious experience or a disturbed state, they can be difficult to shake off.
  • We tend to look to the future through the filters of our experience.  Our unconscious habit of projecting and extrapolating the past into the future, the subtle but strong beliefs of any situation or relationship being unchangeable and the consequent limitations of our imagination, all come in the way of us being able to believe and honour that soft inner voice.
  • The extent to which we acknowledge and address our stress and triggers undoubtedly affects the quality of our experience.  Many of us are well aware of the changes that we need to make in not only our exercise, diet, lifestyle, etc… , but also where we need to question our thoughts, break our patterns, mature in our emotional responses and our spiritual beliefs.  In the modern world, information is readily and abundantly available.  What is required is the translation of it into action.  Until then, the concept by itself is useful up to a point.  But beyond that – it in itself can become a cause of detrimental complacency.

Making a sacred time and space to consciously move into the new year with a whole new vibe can bring a unique coherence and harmony to this transition.  The symbolism and non verbal components of a personal ritual carries its own impact. Accordingly, below is a suggested outline.  Feel free to personalize it for your own use.

  1. Select a quiet time and space when you will be undisturbed.  Early mornings, or late night, just after a cleansing bath are good times.
  2. Light a lamp or candle, burn some incense or sage.
  3. Breathe quietly for a few moments, until your attention is centered in the present moment.
  4. Take a few minutes to pray and invoke the assistance of higher powers.
  5. Imagine yourself encased completely in a violet flame.
  6. Now read the sets of questions given below. It is not necessary to actively seek specific answers (though you could do that as a separate exercise), but to open ourselves to release and newer awareness. With each set, allow any images, emotions, or thoughts that arise. Allow all resistance, arguments, or blockages to show up.  After a few minutes of such pause, mentally affirm, “Release. Dissolve. Let go.” and surrender it all to grace.
  7. When you have finished the list in this manner, continue to sit quietly for a few more minutes with your eyes closed.  Imagine golden light pouring in through the crown of your head and out through the soles of your feet, deep to the centre of the earth.  Let the light cleanse out and heal all parts of you.
  8. Notice and anchor in the changes in your body, breathing and state of mind.
  9. Offer your thanks to the divine and open your eyes, feeling light and refreshed.

Questions for your consideration:

  • What residual emotions, thoughts and patterns are you still holding on to?  What would it take for you to release these easily now?
  • What habitual ways of perceiving, relating and behaving are you yet unwilling to release?  How would you feel without these?  What would it take for you to release these easily now?
  • What if the future looks nothing like the past?  What would it take for you to feel safe about not knowing how things turn out?
  • What is that you know you need to do differently, that you have been refusing to do until now?  What would it take for you to implement the knowledge that you already have?  Are you willing to give this awareness its due attention and energy now?
  • What is the one thing that you need to stop doing that could raise your joy and peace to a completely new level?  What is the one thing that you need to start doing that could raise your joy and peace to a completely new level?  What prevents you from making those shifts now?
  • Who do you need to forgive? What would it take for you to be willing to do that now?
  • What do you yet need to acknowledge and give its due honour  and appreciation?  Would you do that now?
  • Would you be willing to experience a whole new level of love, freedom, joy and peace than you have ever known before?  What would help you make this shift smoothly and comfortably now?

You can also use related articles, EFT scripts, poems and practices like the 5 minute exercise to reclaim peace or the New Beginnings Meditation on this blog as complementary tools.

If you enjoyed this exercise, please share it with others as well.

May we all reconnect with our own inner light and usher in a new era of lightness in the world we co-create… Enjoy your blessed new year!

Image Source:  FB Group – Ho’oponopono Lovers

A Prayer To Restore Faith

light and dark trees

I channeled this for someone very dear to me some days back. I shared it on FB earlier and the response there prompted me to record it here for easy and frequent retrieval.

For all the times I pretended to trust god, but I didn’t,
For all the ways in which I kidded myself
For all the ways in which I secretly tried to control
Everyone and everything
Never believing there was divinity at play
All the reassurance that I gave myself to trust and believe
While never feeling the truth of it in any way
For all the events and circumstances that habituated me
To feel let down
To expect to be abandoned, betrayed
To never have anyone to count on other than myself
To never find support, guidance, help or solace,

I pray.

I pray for forgiveness, my own;
From the universal Source,
And anyone else I may have blamed…
I pray that all the deep rooted patterns and emotions
Of helplessness, hopelessness,
Isolation, despair and pain
In every part of my being
across all space, dimensions and time
Be released, eliminated, erased.

I pray to have the awareness,
The lived acknowledgment and understanding,
That can only come from a whole and healed heart
One which has seen the falsehood of a wound,
Relieved of pain that an illusion caused

For every time I have thought myself alone,
Limited, out of my depths,
Pushed into free fall -
There was a wind beneath my wings,
A branch to reach out to,
A soft landing at the end of it all.

It always seems dark inside the tunnel
And though we may have to travel blindly
Stumble, stagger through terrain unknown and new
Know that light can be blinding too
And once these critical steps
Are maneuvered as best as one can
All the while have full, genuine faith

For once our eyes adjust
To the brightness and lightness of all things
We see….truly see again.

“I must be happy. All the time.” – Is That True?

image

This post may disturb those inclined towards compulsive positive thinking.  But it is likely to provide much needed relief to those who feel stretched and pressured by this kind of an expectation.  For myself, I have found that calling a spade a spade (and a rose a rose!) brings immense ease.  So much of our energy is spent in denial and suppression of our thoughts and feelings.  This very avoidance keeps alive and persistent that which we wish to run from.  As also the consequent self- judgment and perpetual exhaustion.  For when we cannot control what we experience, we end up feeling inadequate and helpless.

Long ago, I read a definition of suffering that made complete sense to me:
Suffering = Pain * Resistance
It was credited to Shinzen Young and I am most grateful for this useful gem of a reminder.

It is true that despite releasing our resistance, there may be plenty of pain. However, my experience has shown that the suffering does indeed reduce in direct proportion to our acceptance. As Byron Katie says, “When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100% of the time.

Life is full of ups and downs.  The good thing about impermanence and transience is that everything changes.  Some things bring us pleasure and others pain.  The more we are obsessed with avoiding pain and seeking pleasure, the greater our fears and need for control.  And frankly, I have yet to meet anyone who has had complete control over what comes into their life.  However, what we can modify is our response.  A combination of best possible efforts and a genuine acceptance of whatever emerges puts us in a place of more mature and consistent joy and peace.  This kind of  joy stems from a full acknowledgement and engagement of the full spectrum of life, without any blinkers or filters distorting whatever is.

This insistence and addiction for a superficial happiness seems to take root as we grow up.  A child can do nothing, daydream by himself, have a fall (cry and get on), play gleefully with friends – and be equally content at the end of each fundamentally unique, dissimilar day. The source of happiness is within, born from the uncomplicated, authentic, light hearted and unhesitant expression of being. There is contentment because comparison and competition have not yet seeded the constant, irrational and unfounded inner voice of ‘not being good enough’.

But then we start parking our happiness in specifics such as a particular income, car, home, appearance, partner, child, etc….  These may have little to do with our intrinsic values or tastes, but are more often the consequence of our deep needs for belonging, validation and approval.

Hence, it is not uncommon to be trapped in the seeking of outer objects of affection that can only be temporary, or relationships that can only be changeable. 

What can be an even more disheartening consequence is the predicament of  attaining such ‘goals’ and finding it has brought no genuine  or lasting happiness.
When your heart and soul is not in sync with what you have been chasing, when you have sacrificed not only precious life years and energy, but also much of what you actually consider sacred and valuable in the name of so-called practicality or peer pressure, the disappointment and lostness can feel crippling.  Because now there is the additional need to meet the expectation, “I should be happy. I got all the trappings of what is considered  ‘a success’ by common norms; if I am still not happy, there has to be something wrong with me.”  

Should you have experienced a phase of contentment and happiness, you may find that you also have to let go of it at some point.  The partner may die, the stock market may crash, the fame may fade…  Now you also have to deal with the fear of losing happiness once you find it.  And once again you ask yourself why this is happening, despite all your strategizing and manifestation attempts.

Which brings one back full circle to that which set one off on this unrealistic quest in the first place:
(1) The need for external validation, approval and
(2) a desire for an assured, constant state of happiness

If you would like to experiment with an approach that differs from this one, try tapping the questions below with EFT or ruminating on them for a couple of weeks. Note any changes in your mood and energies.  Should any specific insights arise, then note them down and take concrete steps to implement what you feel necessary – to find more joy and ease in the playful expression of your being and the full engagement with this miracle of life:

  • How much more would I enjoy my life if I welcomed all of it with ease and grace?
  • What would it be like to sing my own song rather than dance to anyone else’s tune?
  • How much more expansion and ease would I experience if I allowed myself to acknowledge things as they truly are? People just the way they are? Myself, just the way I am? Without judgement, distortion, filters, blinkers or resistance?
  • What would it take to release the need to control and micromanage every aspect of my experience, myself, others and my life?
  • Would acknowledging that there is yet more for me to learn and know increase my willingness to love, forgive and accept myself, others and my life?
  • What would it be like to experience  flow and surrender? Would it make me happier and lighter? What would that take?
  • What would it take for me to allow all my emotions, to embrace my human experience with kindness and gentleness?
  • Would I be willing to give myself permission to be more joyful and centered than I have ever been before? What would that take?

I would welcome hearing how this experiment works out for you.  Please follow the links in the article and browse many of the other relevant posts on tools and discussions to assist with deepening this process.

If you find any of it useful, please do share it with others!