"Happy" New Year!

Today you've probably been wished a happy new year several times. "Happy" is a complicated word with many interpretations, levels and nuances.  In this blog post I will try to sort out the difference between circumstantial pleasure and true joy.

First, let me remind you of the highest reasons why we practice:

The purpose of sadhana (study and practice) is to remove the veils, obstacles and impediments that keep you from seeing our true Self and experiencing the Universe as love. On the mat we work through this confusion and reveal your own Divine nature, which we experience as chit-ananda.

The word chit is related to awareness, consciousness, remembrance and perspective.

The word ananda is loosely translated as "bliss," but needs further explanation. Ananda is more than sheer pleasure, or sukkha, which we feel when things are easy and sweet.  Ananda happens when we touch into a Loving Reality that is beyond our circumstances.

Tantric teachings tell us there is only one cause for true happiness, and that's chit: the power of awareness. If you think about it, all of the times in your life when you have felt light and free, or warm and contented… those times when you were flying down the ski slope, or cuddling with your partner…when all seemed right in the world…were experiences of ananda. All of those experiences have one thing in common – chit. You were fully open and aware. You were there. You weren't distracted. You weren't on the phone. You handed yourself over fully to the moment and opened to what was good, beautiful, true and joyful about it.

Happiness comes from expanding into what's good, real and right in front of you. Instead, many of us are mentally drifting through fantasies and regrets. Distorted thoughts about ourselves, others, and the kind of world we live in create such soul suffering.

Even during sorrow, when we accept our circumstances and make peace with the broken pieces, we can take refuge in the Heart of the Universe. That's ananda, too. While it's not hip-hip-hooray, it is softening and trusting that things will be okay.

This holiday season, I've talked to a lot of students, friends and family who have either broke the bank or had their hearts broken. How big of a perspective does it take to see past our own circumstances and realise the world is actually still whole?

We practice to repeat and reinforce the experience of chit-ananda. We practice to remember that the Universe is Love so that ananda becomes the foundation from which we live our lives.

HAPPY New Year! I sincerely hope that you get everything you want in 2015, that this is the year you become a great success story, and mostly that you recognise the goodness and love in life and it brings you the truest, deepest sense of happiness.