This article offers a personal experience that I had in India during my journey to true happiness. I started this journey a few years ago when I was completely dissatisfied with my life, which offered all I ever wanted in the form of material goods. However, none of which made me truly happy. I really wanted to know the magic ingredient for happiness everyone was talking about!
Facing your inner-self is the key to solving the problem
Right at the beginning, during my Yoga Teacher Training in India, I severely damaged my knees. My teacher was very strict and encouraged me to practice every day, more and more until the pain became so strong that I could hardly walk. At night I screamed in pain, which was also present in the lower back. Never in my life had I felt such a strong pain that I could not sleep. This was the moment when I was forced to stop running away from myself and face reality.
Pain is often a reflection of our psychological state
Due to my injury, after the yoga course had finished, I found myself in the house of an elderly yogi, who thought I would benefit from yoga therapy. I quickly realised that the main reason behind my pain laid in stress. According to my teacher, the pain would leave if I reduced my levels of stress, which despite the smooth gentle yoga I practised, in a relaxing environment, still afflicted me. I began to understand that stress still occurs during rest periods and holidays if we allow our mind to remain active.
I had no choice but to start with a conscious method of relaxation of my mind and body. Every day I laid for two hours a day in a relaxed posture and practised many breathing exercises, in particularly Conscious Sleeping. I did not believe that I would be able to actively practice yoga or acrobatics that I loved so much ever again. Something that I loved, was about to leave my life. I couldn’t fathom, how I was going to teach people yoga if I couldn’t even practice myself.
Change happens when we are willing to let go of old expectations and thinking patterns
After several days of internal fighting, crying and pain, I decided to let go of old patterns of thinking. According to those patterns, external appearance and physical capacity to practice yoga were most important in order to be a good yoga teacher. I accepted this and gave in to the situation. Only after I completely let go and forgot about my expectations and the need of perfection in each of yoga pose, the pain slowly began to subside.
Soon, I was able to walk again and my body began to heal. Throughout this period, I did not take a single medicated tablet or use any natural products or herbs. The pain that had appeared so suddenly departed my body just as quickly and completely by itself. All I had to do was to observe it, accept it and spend my time in conscious relaxation, breathing into it and exhaling the pain, without desire for it to leave or resisting it staying.
We can only change ourselves
Conscious breathing, relaxation and meditation thus represented then and to this day a basic part of my everyday life. Already four weeks later I was able to attend the 10-day program Vipassana – Meditation in silence. Although we were meditating crossed-legged, I did not feel any pain in the knees. I can still not explain how this was possible, but the pain was gone.
That was the moment I realised that in life we cannot help anyone to heal. All we can do is show them the way, motivate them, and remind them to accept and simply observe the laws of nature, rather than react to them. When we react, we only create additional drama, which eventually calms down because the law of nature advocates constant change.
We create our own reality
The Vipassana program enabled me to face my mind/ego and realise the power of its influence on my life. Just before the end of the program, my leg strongly fell asleep. Our teachers advised us not to move during the meditation but rather to just observe the natural course of events. When the numbness crept up to my knees, my old thinking patterns returned once again in the form of feelings of fear. I was scared of losing my leg, and that I could no longer walk.
A previous situation was arising. It was only when I managed to refocus my attention fully back to my breathing, the pain transformed into a feeling of comfort. The feeling of numbness in my leg slowly dissipated without any movement from my leg. This was a very practical example which taught me that we really do not need a reaction in order for changes to occur.
A Technique for a Peaceful Mind
Find a quiet space where you feel good, sit upright, breathe normally, do not control your breathing and just observe your breath. If your thoughts start to arise, divert your attention back to your breathing.
When you feel calm and relaxed, call to your mind the events of the last day or a week. Recall the events which you wish never ended as well as the events which you wanted to be gone as soon as possible. Just become aware of these events.
The use of the technique in practice
The next time you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation or event that you just want to end, then just refocus your attention to breathing and try to be more aware of the moment in which you are in. Forget about how uncomfortable the situation is. Just stay in the moment and see how the developments around you start to change on their own. Try to apply a similar technique when you want an event, a situation or a feeling to never end because you are enjoying it so much.
Rejecting the unpleasant and the desire for the pleasant represents only two ways of how you can react to the natural flow of events. Instead of reacting you can accept the moment and stay connected with your breathing. This method of accepting reality will help you live a more relaxed, fulfilled and happy life.