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Awaken to Happiness – Week 8: Celebrate {Deepak Chopra}

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Week 8: Celebrate
We are filled with gratitude and are glad that you have joined us for this eight-week journey into the heart of happiness. We trust that the seeds of intention you planted at the beginning of the series have taken root in the field of all possibilities.

Whether you are experiencing the first green shoots of joy or a wild profusion of blossoms, know that as you continue to cultivate your intentions, meditate, and practice consciousness in motion, happiness and wellbeing will expand in all areas of your life. This week we invite you to celebrate the shifts you have already experienced and the gifts of pure potentiality.
“Gratitude is a state of being in which we feel connected to everything in the universe. It is a fullness of the heart that recognizes the blessings of Nature within and without. Gratitude is love for the goodness of life itself.”
~Deepak Chopra
“Laughter is a symptom of spirituality. Laughter is the flow of love coursing through your body. Laughter is the nectar of present moment awareness. Invite more laughter into your life and relish the magic in every moment.”
~David Simon
Do you remember the last time you laughed so hard that you could barely stand or walk? Even if you were in the midst of a difficult situation, you may have felt lightened by a feeling of pure joy and ease, letting go of the past and forgetting the future.When you play and laugh with abandon, you enter into the present moment, which is the only place where you can experience happiness. Fully established in the present, you see the world with fresh eyes, relinquishing the ego’s rigid ideas about how things “ought to be” and opening yourself to the realm of infinite possibilities.Children offer the finest expressions of openness and spontaneity. They play and laugh freely, and are enthusiastic about everything from watching a caterpillar and splashing through a puddle to making funny faces and spinning around in circles.They are infinitely creative because they haven’t yet built up the layers of conditioning that create limitations and restrictions. They haven’t yet learned to be “serious” or fallen into the grip of the ego, which has no sense of humor and is easily offended.Play Time No matter how long it’s been since you were a child or really let yourself have fun, today you have an opportunity to lighten up and infuse some playful joy into your life.Think of something that evokes childhood for you – eating an ice cream cone, going to a playground to swing, coloring a picture, jumping rope, building a sand castle. Find something that brings back the sense of fun you had as a child, even if you think you’ve outgrown it, and choose one of these activities to do today.Here are few more ideas for bringing out your creative, playful, open self:

Painting Abandon Go to an art supply or crafts shop and buy three to six paints in colors you love. You can try watercolors, acrylics, or whatever kind of paint appeals to you. Don’t worry about what you will paint – just choose colors that you make your heart sing. Also select a surface for your project, such as canvas, paper, or a board. Set aside half an hour where you won’t be disturbed and let yourself paint. Paint with your fingers, your hands, or your nose! Let the child in you play freely.

Play with Your Food Eat something you’ve never tried before or try combining foods in new ways. Ideas: Strawberries with balsamic vinegar; hot chocolate with a dash of cayenne, salted pineapple or watermelon; almond butter and carrots; potatoes seasoned with nutmeg.

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching Turn down the lights and turn up the music and let your body move! You can dance alone or invite a group of friends over. Let go of any ideas about whether you can dance. Let the music wash over you and free your body to move.

Try Laughter Yoga Laughter Yoga uses childlike playfulness, eye contact, and yogic breathing (pranayama) to create real and contagious laughter. There are now more than 6,000 yoga laughter clubs in approximately 60 countries!

Get Inspired Go on a media detox and refrain from watching or listening to the news for a week – at least! Use the time to nourish your soul instead, by going back to re-experience the books and movies you enjoyed as a child, such as the The 101 Dalmatians, 21 Balloons, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Star Wars, E.T., The Chronicles of Narnia, Charlotte’s Web, Anne of Green Gables, The Wrinkle in Time (or anything by Madeleine L’Engle), From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the Harry Potter Series . . . the list is extensive.

If you want to get news and inspiring stories about all the good things that are happening in the world, we recommend visiting the website www.darynkagan.com.

Do One Thing Different Playfulness involves letting go and trying something that may even scare you a little. Remember as a child climbing a tree, jumping off the high dive, or riding your bicycle for the first time? Your heart may have raced as you felt the exhilaration of conquering your fear and expanding your possibilities. As an adult, you can experience that childhood excitement again by doing something different . . . even if it feels daunting, such as running your first 10K race, learning the tango, taking a drawing class, traveling somewhere by yourself, adopting a pet, trying online dating, studying a foreign language, wearing a color or style you usually shy away from, or anything else that resonates with you. The key is to choose something that sounds fun, not something that you feel you “should” do or that “would be good for me.”

Come up with your own ideas about what would be fun for you – and give yourself permission to commit random acts of wanton silliness and lightheartedness. Have fun!

Cultivating Your Intentions

In the past seven weeks, we’ve explored many different ways to look beyond our limited ego-mind – the “I” that struggles to find peace, love, and fulfillment in life – and discover our true self. The ancient sages described this unbounded self as a shrine in the heart that hides a small candle with an eternal flame. When you find that flame, you find enlightenment and the darkness of doubt, anger, fear, and ignorance are dispelled.

For most of us, the discovery of the flame in our heart’s shine happens not once but many times. We may glimpse the flame in one moment, and then fall back into the darkness for a time before realizing again our true identity, which transcends space, time, and cause-and-effect.

Fortunately, even if the process is gradual, knowing your true self isn’t difficult. It’s what nature intended for us. Any step you take towards your core consciousness, your ground state, your true self, obliterates the causes of unhappiness in your life. At the same time, the innate happiness that is your birthright will blossom.

The place to start is always exactly where you are now. It’s all too easy to feel lost and confused by expecting a clear-cut master plan to unfold before our eyes. With every little step that you take, know that your inner intelligence is working in concert with universal intelligence leading you unerringly on in exactly the way you need for your growth and happiness.

It is not necessary to have a perfect vision of how your full journey is supposed to unfold. Sometimes that is even a distraction as the ego gets involved and tries to control things. Instead of looking outside of yourself for direction, trust in your own guidance. The very action you are taking now by participating in the Awaken to Happiness series has declared your intention to move in the direction of greater evolution, joy, and love. Be gentle with yourself, and as you take each step, keep in mind the beautiful words of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke:

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

Meditation

Laughter Meditation
Laughter is a natural part of our being. During the first few months of life, a newborn will smile and laugh. As children we laugh freely, without judgment. As adults, however, we take ourselves more seriously and often lose that childlike ability to laugh heartily, even though we know it feels good. Research has shown that laughter can lower blood pressure, decrease stress hormones, and strengthen our immune system.

In this week’s meditation we will experience the bliss of laughter and release endorphins into our system, which will bring joy to our mind, body, and spirit. Our meditation guide is Janis Steiner, a Chopra Center certified educator of Primordial Sound Meditation and Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga. She is also a Senior Events Planner at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.

To download the MP3 of this meditation, the instructions are as follows: STEP 1: right-click on this DOWNLOAD LINK STEP 2: (for PCs) after right-clicking, choose “save target as” and save to your computer. STEP 2: (for MACs) after right-clicking, choose “save link as” and save to your computer.

Consciousness in Motion

Go Outside to Play

Spending time in nature is a wonderful way to nourish your spirit and feel your connection to the universe. Most children love to play outdoors, experiencing the freedom and exhilaration of exploring the environment. As adults, it’s easy to forget the power of connecting with our natural surroundings. We may spend most of our days indoors, in our cars, or in front of a computer screen until we feel so overwhelmed or burned out that we decide we have to get away to an island paradise or a remote mountain cabin before we spontaneously combust from stress.

While vacations can be rejuvenating and enjoyable, taking time to connect with nature on a regular basis is much more likely to create ongoing joy, balance, and satisfaction in your daily life, so give yourself permission to play outside and explore nature’s infinite gifts. Here are a few ideas to get started:

  •  Take a brisk walk or a run in a beautiful park or somewhere in nature. Inhale the life force of the plants with your full attention, imagining the air entering your lungs, flowing to your heart, and fueling the millions of life processes taking place in every second. Allow your breathing to connect you with all life on this planet.
  •  Walk barefoot on the earth for a few minutes. Feel the nourishing energy of the earth flowing into your body through the soles of your feet.
  •  Make a regular pilgrimage to your nearest, lake, stream, river, or ocean and let the cooling influence of the water calm your heart and soul. You can swim, float, sail or simply stand on the shore, connecting with the life-giving water element.
  •  On a sunny day, spread a blanket on the ground in a comfortable place outdoors and lie on your back in the sunshine, allowing the light and warmth to infuse your being.
  •  Walk in a beautiful park, forest or other area with lush vegetation and breathe in the life force of the plants. The best times to do this are right before dawn and right after sunset.
  •  Grow some plants and flowers. You don’t have to have a lot of space or even a yard. You can plant a small herb garden right on a windowsill or choose some plants that don’t need much light for your home or office. The simple act of caring for another living organism is profoundly healing – plus plants naturally detoxify the air you breathe in doors. Some of the best plants for improving air quality indoors include Bamboo Palm, Gerbera Daisy, English Ivy, Peace Lily, and Mother-in-Law’s Tongue.
  •  Volunteer for an organization that helps preserve nature or cares for animals that need our help. You could join in a beach clean-up day, offer your talents at a wildlife reserve, or help out with the animals waiting to be adopted from animal shelters (volunteers are often needed to walk dogs, and offer loving attention to the cats and other small animals).
  •  Go to a park, a forest or even your backyard and listen to the healing sounds of the natural world – the buzzing of bees, the wind blowing through the leaves and the calls of wild birds. If you live in a city where you can’t regularly hear natural sounds, listen to audio recordings of rain forests, ocean waves or waterfalls.
  •  Gaze up at the moon and stars at night, allowing your awareness to expand into the heavens and beyond. Whenever you find yourself agonizing over little things, looking into the boundlessness of the cosmos helps put life into perspective.
“The healing influence of happiness travels literally at the speed of light. Like a single inspiring thought that goes out on the internet and reaches millions of people in just a few hours. Happiness multiplies exponentially . . . replacing chaos, confusion, and conflict with order, clarity, and peace.”
~Deepak Chopra
NAMASTE

Awaken to Happiness – Week 7: Replace Fear with Love {Deepak Chopra}

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Week 7: Replace Fear with Love
One of the clouds that obscure our innate state of happiness is unnecessary fear and anxiety. This is the fear that keeps us up at night or stops us from being open to new possibilities and opportunities. When we focus our attention on all the horrible things that could happen to us, we have little time or energy to enjoy higher fulfillment and bliss.

This week we will begin to replace fear with love, identifying and gently releasing the thought-patterns that have kept us stuck as we open to higher states of awareness, love, and peace.

“At the root of all our pain, doubt, and anxiety is a misunderstanding of love – and of our own essential nature. Love isn’t a capricious emotion but is a state of being. It is an experience of unity with all creation. In spirit we are pure love. We don’t have to search outside ourselves for love, because love is our essence.”
~David Simon

This week as we focus on replacing fear with love, we’ll begin with an important distinction between healthy fear and the fear that keeps us stuck in unhappiness. Healthy fear is an instinctual response rooted in our drive for self-preservation. It’s the biological warning system that is automatically triggered when we hear the rustle of a potential predator in a dark forest or alley. It increases our sensory alertness and releases a host of biochemical changes that prepares the bodymind to fight, flee, or “befriend.”

The second kind of fear, which we could call “unhealthy fear,” stems from our ego’s sense of separation. Not realizing that it is an inextricable part of the universe, the ego feels vulnerable and constantly struggles to survive in what it perceives as a hostile world. This is why the ancient sages of India taught that fear is born of duality. When human beings think they are separate from the universe, spirit, God, or whatever name you prefer for this infinite field of pure potentiality, they immediately become afraid of what might happen to them.

At bottom, the reason why we’re scared of rejection, failure, intimacy, embarrassment, abandonment, loss, the unknown, being judged, being alone, losing control, expressing our true feelings, and so many other things is that we’ve mistakenly identified ourselves with our limited ego self. When we know ourselves to be one with the ground of all existence, then nothing is separate or foreign to our nature and all of our unhealthy fears dissolve. This week’s lesson is dedicated to gently releasing the grip of our ego’s fears – and expanding our awareness of our true nature, which is infinite, whole, and unbounded.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Z-s5VaDef2s

Cultivating Your Intentions

Just for a moment, ask yourself, What would I be afraid of if I didn’t have a past? The answer is evident: nothing. Fear is the product of memory, which dwells in the past. Remembering what hurt us before, we put our energy into making certain that an old hurt will not repeat itself. For instance, if we experience a wrenching break-up or someone betrays our trust, we may become fearful of being open and intimate in our relationships. We may do almost anything to avoid another painful experience of rejection or betrayal. But trying to impose the past on the present will never eliminate the threat of being hurt. That happens only when we find the security of our own being, which is love. Motivated by the truth within, we can face any threat because our inner strength is invulnerable to fear.

Keep in mind that moving from fear to love is most often a gradual process of remembering and forgetting and then remembering again. For a few moments, a few days, or longer, we remember that who we really are is love. Then some old conditioning reasserts itself, we forget who we are, and we find ourselves immersed in anxious thoughts about the future. As you go through these natural cycles, a technique from meditation is invaluable: As soon as you’re aware that you’re acting from fear or telling yourself stories about the future that create feelings of anxiety, simply notice what you’re doing, without judging yourself or getting caught up in yet another round of stories. There’s no need to force or concentrate. Just observe yourself. See yourself, notice what your body and breath are doing, watch your behavior, hear your tone of voice − all of it. Then ask yourself, Who is it that is observing all this? That is your core self, your quiet center that exists outside of and independent of your fear.

Shift your center of identity to your authentic self, and from that place you can be with the fear without being in its grip. The fear then is only a disturbance within your larger field. This settled presence of your awareness allows the fear to be dissipated and resolved in the context of your love and acceptance. One day you will have eliminated all illusions and barriers to your awareness of your connection to spirit, but in the meantime, you have a way to deal with the doubts and fears that come along.

Meditation

Releasing Fear and Addiction
At the root of every non-nourishing behavior is a desire to fill unmet needs for security, comfort, self-esteem, and love. Yet acting out a pattern of addiction or compulsion will never fulfill our deepest needs because this behavior is driven by our limited ego self, which is fundamentally fearful and insecure. In today’s meditation led by Nirmala Raniga, we will begin to release the fear and negative patterns in our lives as we tap into our own inexhaustible source of true peace, fulfillment, and love.

Nirmala Raniga is an addiction specialist and the founder of the Chopra Addiction and Wellness Center, a unique residential addiction recovery treatment center in Squamish Valley, B.C., Canada. In partnership with the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, the Chopra Addiction Center offers integrative mind-body recovery programs that combine modern Western medicine with Eastern healing traditions.

To download the MP3 of this meditation, the instructions are as follows: STEP 1: right-click on this DOWNLOAD LINK STEP 2: (for PCs) after right-clicking, choose “save target as” and save to your computer. STEP 2: (for MACs) after right-clicking, choose “save link as” and save to your computer.

Consciousness to Motion

Say Yes to Change

One of the most pervasive fears is the fear of change, yet often it is not the change itself that we fear, but the fear that we will have to adapt our rigid sense of self to a new set of circumstances. We lock into an identity that defines us – married or single, rich or poor, young or old − and we view with suspicion any change that threatens that identity. Change can also make us feel out of control, helpless, and at the mercy of chaos.

Although we can’t stop the cycles of change from turning, we can learn to see change as friend rather than foe. One way of doing that is practicing seeing the possibilities in whatever happens, even if the situation seems dire. It means a willingness to take a deep look into whatever arises, even a sense of disappointment or loss. As the Sufi poet Rumi describes with heart-opening clarity, “Every need brings in what’s needed. Pain bears its cure like a child.”

If you don’t get what you expected, look at what happened and ask yourself, Where is the gift in what I’ve received? How can I transform this situation into an opportunity to learn? In this approach, change is accepted, not denied. A sense of spaciousness enters in.

On a profound level, every event in life has two possible causes. Either what happens is positive, or it is bringing up something you need to learn in order to create something positive. It’s the same with the body. What happens inside a cell is either healthy activity or a sign that a correction is needed. Although life can seem random, in fact everything is pointing to a greater good. Evolution is not a win-lose crapshoot, but a win-win journey to transformation.

Even when we succumb to the idea that life is unfairly arbitrary, the underlying principles of consciousness hold true. Change can be seen as the self-correcting mechanism that aligns us with our purpose in life. If we can bring ourselves − a leap of courage − to embrace change as our true teacher, our life hugely expands. We don’t try so hard to hold on to what we have, but learn daily to let go of the subtle attachments that creep into our minds. We find our own rhythm in the cycle of change: the expansion and the contraction, the light and the dark. Accepting change is the antidote to suffering. In order to find peace, we need to allow things to be in a constant state of flux.

 NAMASTE

Awaken to Happiness – Week 6: Cultivate the Gifts of Mindfulness {Deepak Chopra}

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Week 6: Cultivate the Gifts of Mindfulness
As we’ve explored, happiness based on external sources, such as a good relationship, a pleasurable activity, or wealth, is simply another form of misery because it can  disappear at any moment.   This week we will dive deeper into real happiness. We don’t have to search for this kind of happiness because it is always available in the present moment. By cultivating mindfulness, which means paying attention to the now, we can experience the joyful presence and fullness of each moment.
“If you have your attention on what is, you will see the fullness in every moment. You will discover the dance of the divine in every leaf, in every petal, in every blade of grass, in every rainbow, in every rushing stream, and in every breath of every living being.
~Deepak Chopra
In every moment we have the opportunity to awaken . . . to let go of whatever fear, constriction, and stories are running through our mind as we come fully into the present moment. And it is only in the present moment that we can experience happiness.

Since ancient times, people have used a wide variety of mindfulness techniques to cultivate this state of ever-present witnessing awareness. When we’re mindful, we observe our thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judging them as good or bad. Our attention is active and our attitude is compassionate. We’re aware that we’re connected to the patterns of intelligence that weave the tapestry of the entire cosmos.

Mindfulness practice can be simple. You can come to the present moment by shifting your awareness to your breath, or you can bring your awareness to the sensations in your body. Some people find it easier to let their attention rest in the space between objects. This can be the space between breaths, or the space between movements. The way you move your body – sitting, walking, eating, or any other activity – can be the object of your mindfulness. Once you find the method of mindfulness that suits you best, it becomes easy to access your silent witnessing presence.

By cultivating mindfulness, you begin to experience another level of mind, where silence dominates. From this state of mindful awareness blossoms a sense of wellbeing and a feeling that you are safe. When you embrace what is with your whole attention, you will be immersed in the fullness of the now.

Cultivating Your Intentions

Transform Your Relationship with Time

All of the happiness and fulfillment that human beings yearn for exists in the present moment. In the now, time ceases to exist and we experience a presence that is all-absorbing, completely at peace, and totally satisfying.

Nothing could be closer than the present, yet nothing slips away faster. In an instant our mind can carry us far away into memories of the past or fantasies about the future. Or we may get caught up in a race against the clock, feeling like there’s never enough time. We say things like “Time is flying,” “Time is running out,” or “There are never enough hours in the day.”

We can choose whether to make time an enemy or an ally. We can shift from time-bound awareness into timeless awareness . . . to the ecstasy that can only be found in the present moment. If you want to have all the time in the world, you can train yourself. This week, choose one of the three practices below as your focus.

As you set your intention to transform your relationship with time, remember that being present does not require effort; you can’t work to be present. The key is having a willingness to discover that aspect of yourself that is timeless.

Practice #1: Transform Your Internal Dialogue The way we talk to ourselves has a profound influence on how we perceive the world, how we feel, and ultimately how the events of our lives unfold. Instead of letting your internal dialogue bully or scare you with endless commentary about time running out, use affirmations that empower you and fill you with a sense of ease and wellbeing. You can use these affirmations or come up with your own:

I have all the time in the world. I always have plenty of time.
This moment is exactly as it should be.
I follow my own rhythm and my mind is at peace.

Throughout the day, whenever you notice that you’re rushing or having anxious thoughts about time or the need to get something done or be somewhere else, silently repeat your affirmation to yourself and take a few deep breaths, coming back into the present moment.

Practice #2: One-Pointed Awareness Choose one mundane activity that you do every day, such as brushing your teeth, making the bed, or washing the dishes. Instead of rushing, put your complete attention on this task. If your mind is impatient or prods you to move on to more “important” business, ignore it. Don’t judge yourself; simply return your attention to what’s in front of you right now.

This simple daily practice of focusing your awareness on one activity can create a powerful ripple effect that will expand your experience of present moment awareness throughout the day.

Practice #3: Listen to the Messages of Your Body While the mind tends to dwell in the past or in the future, the body lives in the moment and finds the greatest joy and satisfaction there. Like many people, you may have been trained to rely on your intellect and mind while ignoring, distrusting, or simply being unaware of the signals of your body.

No matter how long it has been neglected, the body is a faithful servant and will respond when you begin to connect. This week, try the following exercise for tuning into your body.

• Begin by setting a phone or clock alarm for three times throughout the day – such as 9 a.m., noon, and 5 p.m. Whenever the alarm sounds, take a few moments to check in with yourself.

• Close your eyes, put your hand on your heart, take a few deep breaths, and then ask yourself, What am I feeling and what do I need right now?

• Wait for the answers to come to you. It might take some practice to identify your body’s messages, so be patient with yourself.

• Once you receive an answer, take some concrete step – no matter how small – to fulfill the need you have identified. It may be as simple as the need to get up from your desk and stretch your body, to go outside for a few moments and take a brisk walk, or to call a friend.

As you practice checking in with yourself on a regular basis, you will connect more deeply with your body and may begin to identify greater needs, such as, I need to end this relationship or I need to cut down on the number of hours I work. As you honor these needs, you will strengthen your relationship with yourself and experience the fullness and joy of present moment awareness. This is the practical value of mindfulness.

Connecting to the feelings in your body brings you back into present moment awareness and gives you valuable information about what you need to cultivate greater health, balance, and happiness.

Meditation

Dive into the Source of Awareness

Meditation is a time simply to be . . . to dive below the mind’s churning surface into the still point of pure consciousness. In meditation, you enter a state of awareness that is beyond thought, sensation, emotions, desire, and memory. In this timeless or transcendent awareness, you have the sensation of fullness and bliss.

This week’s meditation will help expand your awareness of your energetic body, known in Sanskrit as the pranamaya kosha, which translates as “the sheath made of vital energy.” This vital energy, or prana, is the very principle of life and consciousness. In each of us, the most obvious manifestation of prana is our breath – the delicate yet powerful thread that weaves together our environment, senses, body, mind, and soul.

This guided meditation, led by Michael McShane, includes a breathing awareness practice known as pranayama, designed to circulate awareness throughout the body, from the tips of your fingers to the arches of your feet.

Michael McShane is a Chopra Center-certified teacher of Primordial Sound Meditation and Perfect Health: Ayurvedic Lifestyle.

Happiness Series Week 6 Meditation.mp3

To download the MP3 of this meditation, the instructions are as follows: STEP 1: right-click on this DOWNLOAD LINK STEP 2: (for PCs) after right-clicking, choose “save target as” and save to your computer. STEP 2: (for MACs) after right-clicking, choose “save link as” and save to your computer.

Consciousness in Motion

Connect to Your Breath

Focusing on the breath immediately brings us into the now, which is why awareness of the breath is at the heart of many meditation and yoga techniques. When we allow ourselves to be present, we create the breathing room that we crave so intensely – the ability to sense, unimpeded, the rhythm of our lives.

If you practice yoga, you may be familiar with ujjayi breathing (pronounced oo-jai), a yogic breathing technique that you can use to cultivate present moment awareness

Here is how to perform ujjayi breath:

  • Take an inhalation that is slightly deeper than normal. With your mouth closed, exhale through your nose while constricting your throat muscles. If you are doing this correctly, you should sound like Darth Vader from the movie Star Wars.
  • Another way to get the hang of this practice is to try exhaling the sound “haaaaah” with your mouth open. Now make a similar sound with your mouth closed, feeling the outflow of air through your nasal passages. Once you have mastered this on the outflow, use the same method for the inflow breath, gently constricting your throat as you inhale.

Each day this week, practice ujjayi breath for a few minutes each morning, and whenever you find yourself becoming aggravated or stressed. Ujjayi has a balancing influence on the entire cardiorespiratory system, and you should notice a prompt soothing effect.

Take some time to follow your breath, and you will be amazed where it will take you. The breathing room you were looking for was inside of you all along!

NAMASTE

Awaken to Happiness – Week 5: Open Your Heart {Deepak Chopra}

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Week 5: Open Your Heart
In this lesson we are exploring the fast track to happiness. As researchers have found, opening our hearts and giving our attention, affection, acceptance, and appreciation to others is one of the most powerful paths to awaken happiness in our lives.
“The best gift we can give in any interaction is to leave people feeling lighter, happier, and more at peace.”

~David Simon
Each day we have countless opportunities to choose. We make choices about what activities to pursue, how we spend our time and money, and where we focus the precious resource of our attention. What kinds of choices make us happy? Researchers in the field of positive psychology, in particular professors Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ed Diener, and Martin Seligman, have investigated this question in depth, and their findings may surprise you. The first kind of choice they looked at was the pursuit of personal pleasures – such as eating a good meal, having a glass of wine, going to a movie, having sex, and shopping. These pleasures do increase our happiness but only temporarily, for a few hours or a day or two at most.

As the researchers discovered, the choices that really make us happy are those that allow us to express our creativity or promote the happiness of another person. It turns out that making other people is the fast track to happiness, and its effect is long lasting. If you want instant happiness, the secret is to open your heart and give freely and without any expectations. The intention behind your giving is the most important thing, for when you give unconditionally and from the heart, the energy and joy in the act of giving increases many times over.

While material gifts are wonderful, keep in mind that what really brings people happiness is these four intangibles:

Attention Attention is deep listening. When we give our attention, we are completely present and open as we focus on understanding another person’s perspective – even when we don’t agree with it. We don’t give advice (unless the other person directly asks for it) and we don’t interrupt or try to get someone to hurry up and “get to the point.”

According to neuroscientists, when we practice deep listening, the person who is being heard experiences a “cooling down” or slowing of activity in the amygdala – the “primitive” part of our brain that processes fear and anxiety and produces the “fight-or-flight” response when we feel threatened. Simply by listening attentively to someone, we are actually helping to calm their brain and reduce their stress, which has many benefits for physical and emotional wellbeing.

Appreciation Appreciation is letting someone know that you value them and are grateful they are in your life. You notice the qualities you love about a person and share your appreciation for who they are, their unique gifts, and the ways in which their presence and actions creates more peace, joy, and fun in your life.

Affection Affection is deep caring. We express our affection through our words, physical touch, and other actions, letting someone know that we are there for them. Loving touch is particularly vital to health and happiness. It releases a shower of natural pain-relieving and mood-elevating chemicals throughout the body, calming the mind’s busy chatter and promoting feelings of safety, comfort, and relaxation. While technology allows us to see and hear each other from a distance, it can’t create the true connection and fulfillment that comes from loving touch.

Acceptance One of the deepest human needs is acceptance . . . that feeling of being completely seen and accepted, even with all of our weaknesses, inconsistencies, and shortcomings. According to the ancient Vedic sages, one of the greatest attribute of an enlightened being is the ability to embrace life’s inherent ambiguity. Though most of us haven’t attained enlightenment, we can still cultivate this ability to embrace paradox and accept both ourselves and others exactly as they are.

This week as we focus on opening our hearts, we invite you focus each day on giving the gifts of attention, appreciation, affection, and acceptance. Keep a journal of your experiences and how you feel when you open your heart just a little bit wider each day.

Cultivating Your Intentions

3 Practices to Deepen Your Gratitude Gratitude is an immensely powerful force that we can use to expand our happiness; create loving relationships, and even improve our health.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3ok-4nk1Q0&feature=player_embedded

Many scientific studies, including research by renowned psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, have found that people who consciously focus on gratitude experience greater emotional wellbeing and physical health than those who don’t. In comparison with control groups, those who cultivated gratitude:

  • Felt better about their lives as a whole
  • Experienced greater levels of joy and happiness
  • Felt more optimistic about the future and got sick less often
  • Exercised more regularly and had more energy, enthusiasm, motivation, and focus
  • Made greater progress toward achieving important personal goals
  • Slept better and awoke feeling refreshed
  • Felt stronger during trying times
  • Enjoyed closer family ties and were more likely to help others and offer emotional support
  • Experienced fewer symptoms of stress

If you want more happiness, joy, and energy, gratitude is clearly a crucial quality to cultivate and express. Here are three practices you can begin using this week to open your heart to gratitude and love.

1.) Keep a Gratitude Journal

Each day list at least five things for which you are grateful. Challenge yourself by not repeating items from the previous days, for this will make you look more deeply at all the “little” things that enhance your life and give you joy, such as waking in a comfortable bed, listening to your favorite song, receiving a phone call from a friend, hugging your child, or being able to access a wealth of music, literature, and so many other gifts of human creativity with the click of a computer key.

You can write in your journal just before bed, when you wake up in the morning or just before you meditate. The time of day isn’t important; what is important is that you consistently take a few moments to consciously focus your mind on your blessings.

What we put our attention on expands in our life, so by focusing on what we have to be grateful for, we feel happier and open ourselves to an unlimited flow of abundance in every area of our lives.

2.) Write a Thank-you Letter

Make a list of at least five people who have had a profound impact on your life. Choose one and write a thank you letter expressing gratitude for all the gifts you’ve received from that person. If possible, deliver your gratitude letter in person.

In studies of people who have practiced this form of gratitude, the results have been amazing. Often the recipient of the letter had no idea what an impact he or she had had on another person and were deeply touched by the expression of such authentic gratitude.

While we may often thank people verbally, the written word can often be even more powerful because someone has taken the time to write their appreciation. A letter can also be re-read and treasured, creating joy and love that will continue to ripple out into the universe.

3.) Take a Gratitude Walk

This is a particularly useful practice when you’re feeling down or filled with stress and worry. Set aside twenty minutes (or longer if you can) and walk in your neighborhood, through a park, around your office, or somewhere in nature. Pay attention to your senses – everything you’re seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and maybe even tasting – and see how many things you can find to feel grateful for. This is a powerful way to shift your mood and open to the flow of abundance that always surrounds you.

Meditation

In today’s meditation, Chopra Center Vedic Master Amanda Ringnalda will guide us in an exploration to deepen our experience of wholeness and oneness with everything around us. We will explore our sense of connection with our community and open to new possibilities for nourishing this connection using our unique gifts and talents.

Happiness Series Week 5 Meditation.mp3

To download the MP3 of this meditation, the instructions are as follows: STEP 1: right-click on this DOWNLOAD LINK >> STEP 2: (for PCs) after right-clicking, choose “save target as” and save to your computer. STEP 2: (for MACs) after right-clicking, choose “save link as” and save to your computer.

Consciousness in Motion

Heart-Opening Yoga

The essence of yoga is the union of all the layers of life – physical, emotional, and spiritual. It is a practice for going beyond the illusion of separation. If we go deep enough, we realize that everything is interdependent and that we are all inter-beings who inter-arise in the inter-isness.

This sequence of heart-opening yoga poses will help you experience the bliss of union and enhance the flow of intelligence throughout your entire physiology.

Sky to Earth

1. Sky to Earth Pose It is best to perform this pose in a standing position, but you may choose to do it from a seated position if necessary. Begin by bringing your palms and fingers together in “prayer” position, feeling your thumbs gently touching the area of your heart. Close your eyes and take several slow, deep breaths.

Very gradually, begin moving both hands upwards. When they reach about forehead level, interlace your fingers while continuing to raise your hands over your head. When your arms are fully extended, rotate your wrists outward while your fingers remain entwined.

Continue extending with your arms, shoulders, and spine, arching up and backwards, feeling the stretch in your chest and abdomen. Look up at your interlaced fingers. If you feel you can maintain your balance, rise up onto your toes to complete the full extension.

While slowly exhaling, begin flexing your body as you fold forward, bringing your arms down and relaxing your neck. Gradually collapse through your upper, middle, and lower back, walking your hands down your thighs, moving your outstretched hands towards your feet. It is not important whether or not you can touch your feet.

When you have flexed forward as far as you can, close your eyes and relax into this position, slowly inhaling and exhaling for several breaths. With each outflow of your breath, soften through your neck, back, shoulders, and hips.

As you inhale, gently raise yourself upright, again lifting both arms over your head, stretching as far upwards as you comfortably can. Again, rise up onto your toes if you feel you can maintain your balance. Complete the pose by slowly returning your hands to the level of your heart.

Swaying Palm

2. Swaying Palm Pose Begin this second posture in the same manner as the Sky to Earth pose, with both of your hands together at the level of your heart. Again stretch upwards until you are fully extended. Slowly begin to arch your body to the left, stretching through your arms, shoulder, side, and hip. Hold the arch, breathing into the stretch with slow, deep breaths, lengthening with each exhalation.

Slowly return to an upright position, and then gradually arch your body to the right, stretching through your left shoulder, side, and hip. Inhale and exhale, gently lengthening your stretch with each outflow of your breath. Slowly return to an upright position and then slowly lower your arms.

Pelvis Opening

3. Pelvis-Opening Pose This next pose enlivens awareness in the body’s second energy center or chakra. This site is classically associated with primitive emotions, sexuality, and creativity. Because of the powerful messages many young girls often receive about “keeping their legs together,” this pose can sometimes awaken strong feelings and images. Perform it in a safe setting where you can explore the emotions and pieces of information that emerge.

Lying on your back, place both hands over your heart. Bring your knees up so the soles of your feet are on the floor. Now slowly lower your knees toward the floor, opening at your hips. Open to the point where you feel tension, then gently pull your ankles towards your groin. Breathe deeply into your pelvic region while maintaining your awareness in your hips. Without straining, relax and release with each exhalation.

Repeat this process several times, gently releasing further with each opening. Then, slowly extend your knees and rest on your back.

Pelvic Lift

4. Pelvic Lift Pose Lying on your back, bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor. Reach with outstretched arms towards your feet, holding your ankles with your hands. If you cannot reach your ankles, place your palms on the floor with your fingers pointing towards your heels. Keeping the back of your head on the floor, lift your pelvis up in the air, stretching through your chest and abdomen. Take several slow, deep breaths in and out through your nose.

Slowly lower your bottom to the floor and then repeat the movement, lifting up your hips while stretching through your midsection. After several more slow deep breaths, lower yourself to the floor and extend your legs.

Cobra

5. Cobra Pose Lying on your stomach, place your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Predominantly using your back muscles, lift your chest off the floor. Use your hands to provide support while you inhale. Stretch and extend through your neck, even raising your eyes upwards as if trying to see the top of your head. Take several slow, deep breaths, then gradually lower your chest to the floor. Repeat this pose several times.

Open Twist

6. Open Twist Pose Lying on your back, stretch out both arms to your sides at right angles to your body. Bend your left knee and bring your left foot over your right leg, placing it on the floor next to your right knee. While your lower spine and pelvis are twisting to the right, turn your head and neck to the left, feeling the stretch through your spine. Take several slow breaths, releasing further into the pose with each exhalation.

Return to midline, with both legs on the floor. Then, bending your right knee, place your right foot across your left leg next to your left knee. While rotating your lower body to the left, turn your head to the right, again feeling the stretch throughout the spine while taking slow, deep breaths. Return to resting position with both legs extended on the floor.

Child Pose

7. Child’s Pose This final pose promotes safety and centering in preparation for inner exploration. Beginning on your belly, bring your knees up with your legs and ankles together. Leaning forward, slowly flex at the waist until your chest is resting on your thighs and your forehead is on the floor.

Stretch your arms over your head in front of you and take several slow, deep breaths. Then bring your arms back towards your ankles until they are resting alongside your legs. Feel the movement of your chest on your knees as you slowly inhale and exhale with awareness. Remain in this position for several minutes, noticing your thoughts and sensations.

NAMASTE

Awaken to Happiness – Week 4: Detoxify Your Life {Deepak Chopra}

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Week 4: Detoxify Your Life
Hope that you are feeling lighter, more joyful, and more aware of your infinite potential. By the end of this week, you will experience even greater feelings of  lightness and clarity as you start to detoxify your life. As you let go of the complications, emotional toxins, and everything else that isn’t serving you, you will be free to experience the happiness that exists in simplicity and expanded awareness.
“Everyone knows how to choose; few know how to let go. But it’s only by letting go of each experience that you make room for the next. The skill of letting go can be learned, and once learned you will enjoy living much more spontaneously.”

~Deepak Chopra

Cultivating Your Intentions

One of the most subtle forms of complication is past conditioning – the mental and emotional patterns that keep us feeling unhappy and stuck. When we hold onto resentments, hostility, regrets, or grievances, they accumulate in our body and erode our health and happiness. This seven-step process is an effective way to detoxify at the subtle level.

1. Take responsibility. Emotions are so powerful that it is easy to believe that we have little control over them. When someone says something rude, we feel justified in reacting with an angry response. But if your emotional state depends on how other people’s behavior and words, you will forever be at the mercy of others. Understanding that you have choice in how you respond and interpret experiences is the key to healing the emotional body.

2. Witness what you are feeling. Conditioning trains us to feel the same feelings over and over every time we experience the same situation. As soon as an emotion is triggered, we get tangled in our old response. To escape this painful cycle, we need a clear place of witnessing. The best way to witness is to locate where the feeling is arising in our body. Observe the feeling and allow your attention to embrace the sensation. Breathe into the feeling. By allowing yourself to experience the physical sensations without trying to change them, the charge of the emotional begins to dissipate.

3. Label your feeling. Give a name to whatever sensation you feel in your body. Use simple words such as fear, anger, guilt, frustration, or sadness. Don’t use the language of victimization – betrayed, let down, hurt – any word that implies blame for someone else. By simply labeling your feeling, you avoid the temptation to rehash the long, complicated story. Every story is about the past. Your sensations and emotions are in the present.

4. Express the feeling. When we resist or suppress emotions, they only become more toxic. Expressing a feeling leads to release and purification of the body and mind. The purpose of this step isn’t to express how much you hate or blame someone else but to experience release, clarity, and insight. First describe the situation and your feelings from your point of view. Then express what happened from the other person’s point of view. Then describe the situation as though you were a reporter writing an objective news story. When you describe all three perspectives, the intense emotions lose their grip on you and your awareness expands.

5. Share your feeling. Choose someone you trust and share your feelings, including the whole process you’ve been going through and all three points of view.  You should now be able to share without blame and without trying to get the other person to take “your side.” The aim is to be heard and get a true reflection, which the right listener can provide.

6. Let go through ritual. Create your own ceremony for symbolic release of the toxic emotion. Every culture since ancient times has used ritual, and you can invoke this age-old power by creating a ritual that has personal meaning for you. You may want to write down what you’re releasing on a piece of paper that you then burn and release to the Virgin Mary, Buddha, or any spiritual being. You could also wrap your note on a rock and jettison it into the sea or a lake. You can make your ritual private or invite others to witness the release and help you remember its significance.

7. Celebrate and move on! Honor your release by doing something nice for yourself. The celebration doesn’t have to be showy or elaborate. You could simply listen to your favorite music, buy yourself a special present or enjoy a delicious meal. You may want to invite others to share in the joy and gratitude.

Meditation

In today’s meditation led by Deepak Chopra, you will be guided to put your attention on the divine qualities of love, gratitude, compassion, joy, ecstasy, peace, and equanimity. In this expanded state, the immune system is strengthened as the body repairs the damage caused by toxic experiences, relationships, environments, and substances. You’ll experience the bliss of present moment awareness and deep renewal.

Happiness Series Week 4 Meditation.mp3

To download the MP3 of this meditation, the instructions are as follows: STEP 1: right-click on this DOWNLOAD LINK >> STEP 2: (for PCs) after right-clicking, choose “save target as” and save to your computer. STEP 2: (for MACs) after right-clicking, choose “save link as” and save to your computer.

Consciousness in Motion

Simple Steps to Cleanse and Detoxify The healing tradition of Ayurveda teaches that the key to vibrant health and bliss is a strong inner digestive fire, known in Sanskrit as agni. Agni represents the elemental force of transformation. It allows us to fully digest our food, experiences, and emotions, assimilating whatever is nourishing and eliminating the rest.

 The product of a strong agni is known as ojas. When ojas circulates, we experience a sense of wellbeing as every cell in our body expresses its unique talent in support of the entire physiology. When our digestive fire is weak, we fail to completely metabolize our experiences, resulting in the accumulation of toxic residues known in Ayurveda as ama. One sign of ama in the system is an unpleasant white “furry” coating on the tongue, which is particularly noticeable in the morning.

When the level of ama becomes excessive, it overrides the value of ojas. As a result, our cells lose their vitality and we experience toxic build-up. Some signs that you might be experiencing toxicity include ongoing headaches, skin problems, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, low energy, poor digestion, and constipation.

 Ignite Your Inner Fire

To keep your inner digestive fire burning strongly, Ayurveda recommends that we cleanse and detoxify on a regular basis. The Chopra Center’s Perfect Health program offers the opportunity to experience a deep 6-day or 10-day detoxification and rejuvenation process that includes daily Ayurvedic massage treatments to cleanse and purify the bodymind, as well as instruction in meditation, yoga, and other Ayurvedic practices for balance and wellbeing. We also suggest a gentle cleanse that you can do at home. Here are the guidelines for your home detox:

  • Follow a simplified diet for five days, eating plenty of steamed vegetables, grains, and lentil soup. Eliminate fried foods, fermented items, dairy and other animal products, and refined carbohydrates. The key is to keep meals small and simple to give your bodily systems a break.
  • While detoxifying, it is critical to stay hydrated in order to flush toxins and waste out of your system. Drink at least eight glasses of water daily. Ayurveda recommends drinking plenty of gingerroot tea – at least one liter per day – to help purify the body and boost your digestive system. To make the tea, add one teaspoon of freshly grated gingerroot per pint of hot water. Sip the tea throughout the day.
  • You may also want to include fresh fruit juices in the morning, mixed fruit and vegetable juices during the day, and vegetable juices in the evening. If possible, prepare them using fresh organic produce.
  • Lubricate your digestive tract and encourage elimination by eating a mixture of sesame seeds and golden raisins. Prepare a one-to-one mixture of ⅛ cup sesame seeds and ⅛ cup golden raisins. Take a teaspoon of the mixture one hour before each meal, or two hours after each meal. You can substitute ½ teaspoon of sesame oil with three or four raisins if you have trouble digesting seeds.
  • Each day, give yourself a self-massage using therapeutic aromatherapy oils. Regular massage and loving touch detoxifies the body’s tissues, increases circulation, calms the mind, and enhances immune function – and it feels blissful!
  • Exercise is a cornerstone in a detoxifying program. The increased heat and sweat generated through exercise helps to purify and detoxify your body. Each day, aim to engage in at least twenty minutes of aerobic activity that is vigorous enough to leave a light layer of sweat on your skin. Also take hot baths or go to a sauna or steam room to encourage the removal of toxins through your skin.
  • On the fourth evening, just before you go to bed, take a teaspoon of yogurt with a dose of standardized senna extract. Most people will get a good elimination with four tablets before bedtime. You can expect a few loose bowel movements within the next six to eight hours.
  • Always end your cleanse with a gentle transition by gradually reintroducing more complex foods into your diet, such as meat, nuts, starchy vegetables, and whole grains into your diet

NAMASTE

Awaken to Happiness – Week 3: Discover Authentic Self-Esteem {Deepak Chopra}

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Week 3: Discover Authentic Self-EsteemTune into your Body’s Wisdom
 
This lesson  is dedicated to finding true self-esteem. This is different from improving our self-image or trying to win the approval of others. Real self-esteem lies beyond images; it comes from knowing that your essential nature is limitless, fearless, and infinitely worthy. In this awareness, you will discover a happiness that no one can take away from you.
“Remember that you are lovable, valuable, and powerful. You are worthy of love and you deserve to be happy. You have these beautiful qualities and many more because you are living the gift of a human incarnation. My hope is that you can start to embrace these truths.”

~David Simon
This week we’re diving into the heart of happiness by connecting to our true self, which is pure love, infinite awareness, and unbounded joy. At the deepest level of being, what we seek, we already are. Our real self is the source of happiness, creativity, understanding, peace, harmony, laughter, love, and all possibilities. Instead of seeking outside of ourselves, we need to go to the source and realize who we really are.
Sun Rays  Sunset Meditation

When we’re living from an awareness of our true self, the following elements will be present:

  • We feel connected to all that exists.
  • We cease to struggle.
  • We feel free of limitation.
  • We experience the spontaneous fulfillment of desire.
  • We are fearless and willing to step into the unknown.
  • We feel completely safe.
  • We view ourselves and the world with compassion and understanding.

This is a state known as self-referral, which means that we identify with our inner self, the unchanging essence of our soul. We feel whole and at peace even when life rises up with its inevitable challenges and surprises. Self-referral is an internal state of joy, and is different from happiness for a reason.

The opposite of self-referral is object referral, in which we identify with our self-image or external things, including our status, relationships, possessions, accomplishments, titles, and so on. By their very nature, objects are always changing, and long as we tie our identity to them, we will never know our real essence. We may feel happy when things go our way, but we will always feel an underlying current of instability or insecurity because part of us knows that the source of our good feelings can disappear at any moment.

Self-Referral: The Source of True Self-Esteem Authentic self-esteem comes not from improving your self-image but from being established in self-referral, from knowing and accepting that core self within that is beautiful, wise, and loving. Once you have fully owned and experienced your essential nature, you will let go of the struggle to build an external sense of self-worth. You will stop trying to “make” yourself feel better as you push down feelings of emptiness and unhappiness. Your true self doesn’t need to be improved, changed, or even healed. It is whole, perfect, and complete exactly as it is.

Exercise: The Shine in Your Eyes Conscious inner dialogue is a powerful tool for connecting to your true self. Whenever you look in the mirror, even if just for a few seconds, make eye contact with yourself and silently repeat the three principles of self-referral:

  1. I am totally independent of the good or bad opinion of others.
  2. I am beneath no one, and no one is beneath me.
  3. I am fearless in the face of all challenges.

Look into your eyes to see these attitudes reflected back at you. Look just in your eyes, not at your facial expression. Look for the shine in your eyes that reflects the fire in your soul. If you do this exercise a few minutes every day, it will create profound shifts in your life.

Cultivating Your Intentions

This week we invite you to hold the intention to deepen your connection to your true self. A time-honored means for doing this is the practice of mindfulness, which is about cultivating present moment awareness of our thoughts, actions, and feelings. According to the ancient wisdom teachings, this capacity to observe ourselves without judging ourselves is the highest form of human intelligence.

Here is a practical three-step approach to nourishing mindfulness as you move through your day:

  1. Meditate.
  2. Notice what you’re doing.
  3. Allow and accept.

1. MEDITATE

Learning to still the mind’s dialogue opens the door to a domain of silence that has the potential to heal and transform your life. As you tap into this inner silence, you begin the process of shifting your internal reference point from ego to soul, from fear to love, from anxiety to peace, and from constriction to expansion. The time-honored means of doing that is through a meditation practice.

 Special Note for the New or Hesitant Meditator If you have never meditated or you have tried to meditate and stopped because you were frustrated, weren’t experiencing the benefits, or weren’t sure you were doing it “right,” you now have a fresh opportunity to discover the healing power of meditation.

There are many different techniques to quiet the mind, including focusing on the breath, walking in silence in nature, biofeedback, prayer and contemplation, and countless other approaches. It’s important to explore and find a practice that resonates with you. The Chopra Center offers instruction in a practice known as Primordial Sound Meditation, a natural, easy practice that dates back thousands of years to India’s Vedic tradition. In this practice, you meditate using an individualized mantra, a word that means “vehicle of the mind.” Mantras are pleasant, resonant sounds that have no meaning – they are instead chosen for their vibratory quality. When you silently repeat your mantra, the mind naturally settles with no need to strain or concentrate.

A few ways to get started . . .

2. NOTICE WHAT YOU’RE DOING

As you develop an abiding sense of your true self with meditation, you can cultivate compassionate awareness of yourself by paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and reactions throughout the day. Remember that awareness is the key to change. As you witness yourself getting caught up in familiar emotional reactions, gently witness the habitual patterns without judgment. Notice when you’re wounded by small slights or you feel anxious or unhappy when someone you love doesn’t give you the attention you want.

Most people are trying to earn the approval of others, repeating a pattern that goes back to our early childhood, when we believed we had to earn our parents’ or caregivers’ love and approval. We unconsciously believed that our survival depended on it – and it may have. But now we are adults and can start to let go of the false need for approval.

3. ALLOW AND ACCEPT

As you open the door to awareness, feelings of fear or insecurity may seem more intense. Instead of fighting or resist uncomfortable feelings, simply be with those feelings as best as you can. When you try to push away a feeling, it only grows stronger, but when you simply notice and allow it to be, it will soon dissipate. In the beautiful words of Harvard neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor, “Just like children, emotions heal when they are heard and validated.” In her bestselling book, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, Jill described her own extraordinary experience of having a stroke that temporarily disabled the function of her brain’s left hemisphere – generally responsible for analysis, language, and judging – pushing her awareness into the right hemisphere, the domain of creativity, empathy, and wordless one-ness.  At first she felt intense pain, and then, as she describes in her book, “I felt like a genie liberated from its bottle. The energy of my spirit seemed to flow like a great whale gliding through a sea of silent euphoria.”   The Fleeting Nature of Emotions Today Jill Bolte Taylor has recovered from her stroke yet still cultivates an awareness of the power and transience of emotions. When uncomfortable or difficult emotions arise, she uses a technique that may help you. She looks at the second hand on her watch and sits with whatever feeling is coming up, knowing that most feelings move through the body in ninety seconds or less.

Whether we’re feeling joy, fear, or surprise, the chemicals in the body associated with those feelings flush through the body in a short time. The only reason a feeling would last longer is if we continue to fuel the emotional loop by choosing thoughts or telling ourselves stories about the past or future that retrigger the emotional response. By allowing your feelings and bringing the light of your consciousness into the present moment, in time you can heal old emotional patterns and reclaim your true self-esteem and innate happiness.

Meditation

Listening to Your Soul In this week’s meditation, we’ll begin cultivating the inner stillness and silence that allows us to tune into the voice of our true self or soul. While our ego-mind’s dialogue tends to be laden with self-judgment, anxiety, or limiting beliefs, our true self speaks in the language in the language of love, peace, acceptance, possibility, and joy.

The meditation is led by Kyla Stinnett, a certified Primordial Sound Meditation instructor, and the Communications Editor for the Chopra Center for Wellbeing.

Happiness Series Week 3 Meditation.mp3

To download the MP3 of this meditation, the instructions are as follows: STEP 1: right-click on this DOWNLOAD LINK STEP 2: (for PCs) after right-clicking, choose “save target as” and save to your computer. STEP 2: (for MACs) after right-clicking, choose “save link as” and save to your computer.

Consiousness in Motion

The essence of yoga and meditation is experiencing our innate wholeness, the unity of our body, mind, and spirit.

In this guided practice led by Deepak Chopra, we focus on cultivating the trust and acceptance that connects us to this experience of wholeness and to our true self. As we release the ego’s self-judgment, fear, and doubt, our consciousness expands and we feel at-one with ourselves and with the world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=buxmd-HOFM0

Awaken to Happiness – Week 2: Tune into Your Body’s Wisdom {Deepak Chopra}

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Week 2:  Tune into your Body’s Wisdom
This lesson is dedicated to the wisdom of the body, which is our most reliable guide to making conscious choices for joy, balance, and wellbeing.
“Your body is your connection to the cosmic computer, which is organizing an infinity of events simultaneously. By listening to your body and responding to it with awareness, you tap into the field of infinite possibility, where the natural experience is peace, harmony, and joy.”                                        

~Deepak Chopra
Our body is our most reliable guide to happiness. Whereas the mind lives in the past and the future, the body resides in the now and never doubts itself. It knows the truth and will guide you toward the most evolutionary choices. As modern dance pioneer Martha Graham once said, “The body never lies . . . it says what words cannot.”

By listening to your body’s signals, you can gather valuable clues that will guide you to greater happiness. Developing awareness is key because so many of us were taught to ignore our body as we were growing up. We may have received the message that our mind was the most valuable part of ourselves. If you have been living “from the neck up,” rediscovering the wisdom of the body will be particularly rich and rewarding.

Exercise: Get Grounded

One powerful way to expand your awareness is to ground yourself in your body. Whenever you feel distracted or triggered by a situation or event, tune into the feelings in your body. For instance, if you receive an unexpected bill and your normal reaction would be to feel angry or anxious, try this simple yoga pose known as Tadasana or Standing Mountain.

1. Begin by standing* with your feet hips width apart, the big toes slightly turned in. Engage your thigh muscles and lift the knee caps.

2. Align your body by having the knees above the ankles, the hips above the knees, the shoulders above the hips, the ears above the shoulders. The crown of your head is reaching up toward the sky.

3. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor. Lift your ribs up from the waist. Your feet are firmly rooted on the ground. As you feel your connection to the earth beneath you, you become as steady as a mountain. Slowly lower your hands to your sides.

4. Now take a deep breath, close your eyes, and let yourself feel the sensations in your body. Focus your attention on the waves of sensation until they disappear.

By pausing and becoming aware of your body and the present moment, you’re breaking a conditioned pattern of stimulus-response. As you breathe, your body is reminded of its natural state of harmony and self-regulation, and this grounds you.

*Note: If a standing position isn’t available to you, you can receive the same grounding benefits of mountain pose by performing a modified version of it in a chair. Root your feet on the ground and stretch your arms upwards and then lower them to your sides. Close your eyes and follow the rest of the instructions for focusing on feeling the sensations in your body.

Cultivating Your Intentions

An intention is a choice to move in a particular direction. This week we’ll focus on three practical intentions for creating increased awareness of your body.

 1. I make choices to maximize the energy in my body. Your body is your connection to the infinite supply of energy in the universe. If you’re feeling any kind of lack, it is because you’re resisting the flow of this infinite supply.  Ask your body what it needs and follow its guidance.

2. Before I act on any emotion, I will consult my heart. Your heart is the seat of emotional intelligence and it is a reliable guide when you trust it. Tune into your heart throughout the day, particularly when you have a decision to make. Put your hand on your heart and pay attention to any subtle sensations or feelings that signal a “yes” or a “no.”

3. Lightness of being in my body will be my indicator of happiness. This week, begin to pay attention to the sensations in your body. If you feel heavy or dull, make shifts, no matter how small, to let go of old patterns so that you can open to the freshness and pure potential each moment holds. Give your body what it needs the most, whether that is more restful sleep, life-giving nourishment, the joy of movement, or communion with nature.

At the beginning and end of each day, read these intentions and let the words sink deep into your consciousness. As you move throughout your day, pay attention to your body and, as best you can, tune into its messages and act on its guidance.

Meditation

The Mind-Body Connection In today’s guided meditation Deepak Chopra shares how the process of meditation can help you return to your baseline status, releasing toxic emotions and thoughts, and moving your body into a state of self-repair and greater wellbeing.

To download the MP3 of this meditation, the instructions are as follows: STEP 1: right-click on this DOWNLOAD LINK STEP 2: (for PCs) after right-clicking, choose “save target as” and save to your computer. STEP 2: (for MACs) after right-clicking, choose “save link as” and save to your computer.

Consciousness in Motion

Move Your Body Every Day Physical activity is one of the most powerful, natural ways to connect to your body, elevate your mood, and release stress. The body loves to move and experience the release of endorphins and other chemical messengers that create feelings of well-being throughout our entire physiology.

This week, have the intention to enjoy some kind of physical exercise each day – ideally for at least twenty minutes. If you loathe the thought of getting on a treadmill, don’t do it! Choose activities that appeal to your sense of fun and adventure. Here are a few ideas:

  • Practice yoga.
  • Jump on a trampoline.
  • Hula hoop to your favorite music.
  • Learn how to belly dance.
  • Try kayaking or paddle boarding.
  • Run in the sand along the ocean.
  • Rollerblade in a park.
  • Play tag with your kids.
  • Take a brisk walk in nature.
  • Take a class you’ve never tried before, such as kickboxing, spinning, or Zumba.
  • Go salsa dancing.
  • Join an adult softball, baseball, or soccer league.

We invite you to explore and share your ideas for physical activities that fill you with joy on the Chopra Center’s Facebook community >>

 NAMASTE

Awaken to Happiness – Week 1: Identify Your True Source of Happiness {Deepak Chopra}

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8wkhappiness-header_2[1]

Week 1:  Identify Your True Source of Happiness

As we begin our exploration of happiness, it’s important to understand how we define what happiness is. As many Eastern wisdom traditions teach, there are two types of happiness. The first kind of happiness comes from things turning out the way we’d like them to. This is known as happiness for a reason. We say, “I’m happy because I have a family and friends,” or “I’m happy because I got a promotion,” or “I’m happy because I’m going on vacation,” and so on. This kind of happiness is inherently fleeting because it depends on external reasons that can be taken away from us at any time. Although we tend to avoid thinking about it, we can lose our home, our job, our savings, our health, and our loved ones at any time. These are temporary, external sources of happiness that come and go like a passing breeze.

The second type of happiness, in contrast, is an internal state of consciousness that allows us to be happy for no reason at all. It is independent of the circumstances, events, people, and things in our lives. This happiness comes from the realization that our true self isn’t our body, thoughts, emotions, personality, possessions, accomplishments, relationships, or any other time-bound attribute. Our essential nature is pure, unbounded consciousness, also known as the field of all possibilities. The attributes of this field include happiness, love, timelessness, compassion, creativity, wisdom, silence, and grace.

This series is called Awaken to Happiness because we are focusing on experiencing the happiness that already exists within us. Just as a radiant sunrise can be hidden behind the clouds, our inner happiness can become obscured by constricted awareness, limiting thought patterns, and emotional turmoil. Yet no matter how long we have been lost in fear and limitation, we can learn to rise above the clouds of conditioning and awaken to the source of happiness within us.

Cultivating Your Intentions

Consciously choosing our intentions is the most powerful way to begin any project, journey, or dream. By becoming clear about what we desire and setting an intention, we are planting a seed in the fertile garden of pure potentiality. As we nurture that seed while simultaneously releasing any attachment to the outcome, we come fully into the present moment. We spontaneously take the most evolutionary actions and experience the expansion of joy, love, and harmony.

As you begin the Awaken to Happiness series, give yourself free reign to consider your intention. Your intention can be a simple one. In fact, for the purpose of this exploration, simple is probably best. Here are a few ideas:

My intention is to . . .

  • Open my heart to happiness.
  • Follow my joy.
  • Be happy for no reason at all.
  • Awaken to love and happiness.
  • Live with a light heart and spirit.

This is your own personal intention, and as long as you find an intention that resonates with your heart, there is no “wrong” way to set it. In general, however, it’s best to write your intentions in positive language rather than in terms of what you don’t want, because the important part of formulating intentions is to generate a field of awareness that feels whole, content, and complete.  Intentions also tend to be more powerful when we write them down where we can see them throughout the day.  We suggest taping them to your computer monitor, a bathroom mirror, your car dashboard, and anywhere else that you will see them regularly and be reminded of your deepest intention for happiness.

Meditation

Affirming Wellbeing Through Mantras This guided meditation led by program consultant and Vedic Master Gabrielle Forleo will help you go deep into your own inner silence, moving into the world of spirit, where you can manifest your own happiness and wellbeing through positive affirmations.

 Happiness Series Week 1 Meditation.mp3

 To download the MP3 of this meditation, the instructions are as follows: STEP 1: right-click on this Dowload Link >> STEP 2: (for PCs) after right-clicking, choose “save target as” and save to your computer. STEP 2: (for MACs) after right-clicking, choose “save link as” and save to your computer.

Consiousness in Motion

Yoga for Body-Centered Awareness Triangle, The Happy Pose

The basic triangle, or trikonasana (pronounced trih-koh-NAH-sah-nah), is a yoga pose that provides an excellent stretch throughout the entire body. This pose is a good choice if you are feeling sad or depressed, or anytime you want to open yourself up to a flow of positive energy.

Known as the “happy pose” because it opens your heart center and allows joy to fill your body, this pose also relieves tension in your neck and back, tones leg muscles, improves circulation, and strengthens the lower back.

If you are new to yoga, you may wish to begin with Standing Side Bend to strengthen your torso. This pose is less intense, yet offers many of the same benefits as the Triangle pose. As you begin to feel more flexible, gradually move into Triangle.

Yoga Triangle

NAMASTE

Awaken to Happiness – Introduction (Chopra Center)

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I realise this online series has ended, but I want to share its content on my blog as it’s really never too late to find happiness

Welcome!

When we embark on any journey, we usually begin with a desire or intention. We may want to experience new landscapes, have a daring adventure, or open to healing and inspiration. 

Just for a moment, consider the reasons why you enrolled in the Awaken to Happiness series. What are you looking for? What are you hoping to gain? What do you really, really want? What does happiness mean to you? 

Happiness is the goal of all other goals, yet most people seek happiness in a roundabout way. We have material goals such as financial abundance, a bigger house, or a new car. We want loving relationships, fulfilling work, and the ability to express our creativity. We may long to feel safe and to know that we belong. We might seek the limelight or wish for greater solitude and time away from the noise of the modern world. 

When you ask people why they want something, the ultimate answer is the same: They believe that when they get what they want, then they will be happy. This turns out not to be true. It’s the other way around. As current research reveals, happy individuals are statistically more likely than their gloomier counterparts to enjoy loving relationships, robust health, higher incomes, and successful careers. 

If we make happiness our primary goal instead of a secondary one, it becomes much easier to manifest everything else we desire. For the next eight weeks (and for the rest of your life), we invite you to focus on happiness as your ultimate goal. Here is the pathway we will be exploring: 

Week 1: Identify Your True Source of Happiness 
Week 2: Tune into Your Body’s Wisdom 
Week 3: Discover Authentic Self-Esteem 
Week 4: Detoxify Your Life 
Week 5: Open Your Heart 
Week 6: Cultivate the Gifts of Mindfulness 
Week 7: Replace Fear with Love 
Week 8: Celebrate 

Let’s begin with the important question: What is happiness and where do we find it?  

We wish you a wonderful week filled with peace, harmony, laughter, and love! 

In gratitude, 
The Chopra Center Staff