Last week I learned of two different young people, both seeming to have promising futures, who had taken their own lives. I experienced a wave of emotions from sadness to panic and even curiosity at why any young person with their whole life in front of them would feel that ending that life was the ONLY option. I then realized the answer is quite simple. And as a parent, I saw a clear focus as to what is likely the most important lesson I could ever teach my children; How to Cultivate Happiness from the Inside Out and not the other way around.
The world can be a harsh place. If we look for outside things or people to satisfy us inside, than it can be even harsher. When we are thankful for what we have inside ourselves and accept our shortcomings, we are accessing our own Internal Radical Happiness (Sukha Shakti). Once we know it’s there we have the opportunity to turn it outward and share it with others, which then allows us to cultivate even more of it.
So, I asked my students to build their physical practice from the inside out as well. We started with Uddiyana Bandha (inner core muscles). As we laid on our backs, we touched them with our fingers to remind us of their strength, then we warmed them up. We then came to seated and engaged the Mula Bandha (pelvic floor muscles). We worked on both Bandhas together as we moved through our Asana practice.
Using these internal locks (Bandhas) serves many purposes…it keeps us strong and focused and present in our bodies, it helps to protect the spine and keep us safe while making us strong and flexible, and lastly these locks help to keep all of our Sukha Shakti (radical happiness) inside us and to channel that Shakti to different parts of the body that need it.
We moved from Tree pose to Warrior three and then slowly back to Tree and my eyes welled up for a moment. The students were working so hard within themselves to build this beautiful energy and joy and I could actually feel it in the room.
From there we transitioned into a Shalabasana backbending series and we engaged the last of the three Bandhas, Jalandara Bandha (chin to the chest). Jalandara Bandha is meant to keep the energy from escaping out the crown of the head. To engage all three Bandhas at once is an intense experience and a true reminder of all the Sukha Shakti we had inside us waiting to be accessed.
As we released our Bandhas and moved into Savasana, the time had come to share our energy with the world. We let go of the breath and let the body rest as the mind committed to the practice of cultivating gratefulness, acceptance and ultimately happiness from the inside. With that release and commitment, the Sukha Shakti from inside everyone in the room was out and the space was filled with energy.
Again my eyes welled up with tears and I felt a rush of emotions. The first was Sadness for those young people and many others who never got to access their own Sukha Shakti. Next was Fear that I might fail in my mission to teach my children that all the happiness they need is already inside them. Then lastly to Joy, the kind of Joy that comes from the inside…from the combination of gratitude and acceptance. And as I turned my own happiness from inside out into the room, I felt more of it inside me ready to share. Namaste.