Sole Reflection

Sole Reflection

by Mary Fowler


“Being Happy Buddha.” When I heard this phrase, my first thought was this: I want to be a happy Buddha. But then, I got to thinking: Was Buddha happy? Am I less than or no Buddha if I’m not happy. Am I supposed to be happy all the time? Should I pretend to be or act as if I am happy? Especially, if I have some unhappy realities woven into the foundation of my life?

Am I failure at wellness if I’m generally unhappy or have long periods of unhappiness? I have had long periods of unhappiness. Though these unhappy times were dotted with moments of laughter and joy, all in all, they were unhappy times.

It seems to me that many of us want to feel this mood state called “happy” most of the time. We spend a good amount of our life’s social, emotional, mental, physical and spiritual capital in pursuit of people, places, and things that will bring us to the state we call “happy.”

Like that new pair of red shoes. You now the ones I’m talking about. They look so hot and feel like hell, but we’re inclined to feed our feet to them anyway, because damn, they look AWESOME. And awesome makes us happy. Or so we think until the little “ouch” of our illusion grows into OUCH. Sad but true: the object of our happiness is now the root of our suffering.

So, we kick off these red hot ornaments of torture. We put a lot of energy into massaging our plantar fascia hoping to make our feet happy again. Yes, we’re talking about those very same feet that were possibly happy but definitely content before we force fed them to six inch strappy stilettos. If only we had noticed the perfectly happy Buddha nature beforehand. But, we didn’t. Why? Were we too focused on seeking happiness to notice the happiness beneath our feet?

One of my teachers, Yogic Master Shri Amrit Desai, often says, “Choosing for or against is the root of human suffering.” Choosing for or against is the same as saying: “I like it. I want more. I don’t like it. Take it away.”

We’re not talking about objects such as a sloppy, gooey, dessert here. The true nature of the happiness thief is choosing for or against conditions, like happiness or sadness, joy or sorrow, ecstasy or apathy. Happiness floats out of reach when we decide we don’t want to feel certain feelings because they are not “happy.”

When unpleasant feelings come, or when we lose that happy mood state, we may try to change conditions as a way to choose for against. We may try to manipulate conditions to change emotions. Or, we may try to change others to change our conditions. Good luck with that one!

We can continue trying to change conditions. Eventually we will wind up more disturbed then when we began. Why? We are looking outside for what is very much an inside job. How do we change the inside disturbance? “Learn to be okay with what is as is.” That’s what Amrit Desai says.  

When we release the struggle and accept what is as is, we free the space that our souls need to walk with the Buddha.

Yogi Amrit Desai is one of the earliest pioneers of yoga in the West, and is one of the few remaining living yoga masters who originally brought over the authentic teachings of yoga in the early 1960s. He is the creator of two brands of yoga, Kripalu Yoga and I AM Yoga, and is the founder of five yoga and health centers in the US. His yoga training programs have reached more than 40 countries worldwide and over 8,000 teachers have been certified. Learn more about the teachings and life of yogi Amrit Desai here»

Mary Fowler is an author and personal development, self-care coach. She also provides professional staff development trainings to educators working with students with emotional and behavioral issues. She specializes in developing safe, stable and nurturing environments along with practical strategies for students experience problems related to trauma, adverse childhood experiences, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Mary practices yoga and mindful awareness.

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