What is sweetness? Sweetness is the quality of being sweet. It is a pleasant quality which is palatable not only for our senses and physical body but also for our emotional and mental states of being. It is something that we all crave and want in our lives.
Another question to ask is, how does this sweetness relate to our yoga practice and how can we cultivate and extract it through yoga?
Yoga means to “yoke” or bring together. Normally we have a limited perspective of what yoga is and we think of it as just yoga postures. It is indeed much more than this. It is a way of living in balance, harmony and equanimity. It is a way of bringing all parts of ourselves together and embrace ourselves as being whole complete.
Recently, I finished guiding and facilitating a Yoga Teacher Training and what made it so transformational and complete for everyone was that there were able to accept their positive and negative qualities as who they were. Through understanding yoga, they were able to recognize and accept both the dark and light aspect of themselves and realize that this is part of being whole and happy.
One key principle in yoga is Santosha, which is a Sanskrit word for contentment. Contentment is a quality of being inclusive and whole. To be content doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have desires to grow or expand. It implies that we be grateful for who we are and what we have now. This quality brings us into the immediacy of the moment allowing us to also be more present and accepting.
When you are on your yoga mat being content with where you are in your practice, you open up to the present moment of being in that space without resistance. You then become open to listening, learning and transformation.
When we can be content in the moment with whatever we are doing, we no longer thirst, hunger or grasp for more in the future. We become thankful for all that we have and who we are. Then, what we seek will happen more naturally with grace and ease. Thus, we can extraction of sweetness of life in everyday experiences.
Be aware, there are some hijackers of sweetness and these exist in one’s own experience (body/mind complex).
One of the ways that we steal joy from ourselves is taking things and people for granted. For example, when we take a person for granted we fail to recognize their ephemeral nature thinking that they will always be there. Thus, we fail to recognize their value and forget to express appreciation towards them.
This forgetfulness can become a habitual pattern which can lead to disconnect and discontent. We get swept away and keep seeking to acquire more without an attitude of gratitude for what others have done for us.
One way to cultivate gratitude in your yoga practice is to wake up with an attitude of gratitude and be thankful for things and people in your life. Another way is to dedicate your yoga practice to someone you are grateful for or simply send them some positive thoughts and energy before, during or after your yoga practice.
Another way we strip ourselves of joy is through a divisiveness, separation and comparison. It is all too easy to look at our experiences through the lens of negativity. This is a natural survival mechanism with an actual name called “negativity bias”.
The negativity bias is the phenomena by which humans give more psychological weight to bad experiences than good ones. Because of this natural tendency it is hard to become vulnerable and open. It is much easier to close off and shield ourselves from any potential harm. By doing so we miss out on potential joy.
We can overcome this in our yoga practice by reinforcing some of the positive experiences we have through the power of appreciation that we just mentioned and through repeating or looking at positive affirmations. Prayer works in the same way.
We struggle these days to find happiness, even though most of us have all our basic needs met. Our experiences can be become very dissatisfying and as a result we become disappointed with ourselves and others.
Our unhappiness feeds separation and this separation takes us further away from yoga (union) and the truth of who we are. It breeds within us the ground for competitiveness and comparison leading to jealously, greed, and hatred.
In the beautiful words of Theodore Roosevelt, “comparison is a thief of joy” can’t be further from the truth. This simple statement states that comparing your work, your life, or whatever else will only serve to make you more unhappy. In the age of social media this happens all too often much faster.
All we need to do is to start practicing and cultivating some of these key principles for extracting the sweetness of life through yoga. To summarize, they are:
1. Be in the moment and be content in this moment with where you are and who you are. This can be simple as taking a pause, relaxing and bringing awareness to your breath.
2. Be grateful and express appreciation for all you have and everyone in your life. Upon waking up and before going to bed, remember what you are grateful for.
3. Be positive and transform negative perceptions into positive ones through the power of appreciation, prayer and affirmations.
Peace & Namaste