It doesn’t happen often but once in a while I am inspired by something I read on Facebook. I read a post written by a nursing home employee who was checking in a 92 year old woman who had recently lost her husband and before that, most of her sight. This employee is recounting the experience of bringing this woman to her new room after she had waited several hours to be checked in. As she walked the woman to her room she began to describe what the woman would find once she came to her room. This woman said that she loved her room already even though she hadn’t seen it yet because she had already decided to love it. “It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice.” She then went on to explain “Each day is a gift and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away, just for this time in my life. Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories. Thank you for your part in filling my memory bank. I am still depositing.” Then she gave this employee her five simple rules to be happy. 1. Free your Heart from Hatred. 2. Free your Mind from Worries. 3. Live Simply 4. Give More. 5. Expect Less.
With those 5 simple rules to guide our practice we began to flow on our mats. As we moved through our opening Sun Salutations, we began to free the heart from hatred (judgment of ourselves and others) and the mind from worry (surrendering the clutter). As we worked deeper using Vashistasana A (side plank) and Vashistasana B (Fallen Triangle) there was a feeling of release in the room, a letting go of negative energy (complexity) and from there the opportunity to find clarity, space and simplicity. We set our full intention to our practice as we explored Bakasana and Eka Pada Bakasana (1 knee to upper arm, the other leg straight) but let go of the expectations to achieve them.
What we begin on the mat can continue off. So much about this story inspired me but the rules for happiness are how I try to live my life. Ironically, I had the chance to put them to use last weekend as I happened to be at a party where my best friend from high school (who I had had a falling out with 20 years ago) also was. I made the decision to be happy, to free myself from any anger I felt at how I had been mistreated so many years ago. I let go of the worry in my head as I walked up to her, gave her a hug and told her how nice it was to see her. I surrendered the potential complexity of the situation and just let it be simple. I gave her the chance to make amends which she graciously did even though I wasn’t expecting her to. Simple but powerful rules that I am grateful to live by.
Back on the mat, we began to slow down and transition into Savasana. I reminded my students, this is where the work truly begins; the choice to be happy starts and ends in the mind. As we sat for our final moments together in meditation, I repeated the rules and reminded them of the wisdom of that special 92 year old woman. I wished for us all that we continue to deposit happy memories into our bank until the day we leave this earth and that we make the choice each day to be happy. I repeated the rules once more for them and for myself. 1. Free your heart from Hatred. 2. Free your mind from worries. 3. Live Simply 4. Give More. 5. Expect Less. Be Happy. Namaste.