When I hear the word “happy,” I immediately think of a happy face. That round, yellow, smiley icon is such a positive symbol, intended to spark a feel-good reaction. But it’s not as easy as that, is it? Just because we “see” a happy face doesn’t make us happy. We’re increasingly learning that happiness is about the state of our internal thoughts and feelings, not external appearance or expression.
After all, happy people can cry a lot and sad people –Robin Williams comes to mind – can smile a lot. It’s hard to process that a man who spent his life making other people smile was not smiling for himself. And there are many other people out there just like Robin.
With depression, stress-related disease, suicide, and mental illness on the rise it’s obvious that happiness is not as easy as just turning on a switch. Happiness is a journey, and that becoming happier takes work (it’s true and it’s worth it). The principles of happiness are not complicated, in fact the steps can be considered pretty basic. However people don’t always do the work. Learning skillful ways to navigate life helps us to reach our potential, helps us to thrive. To master the art of happiness takes awareness, education, choice, action, and regular practice.
In life, we are all either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis or about to go into a crisis, and in between we have to navigate a series of challenges. If we don’t find ways to manage the negative mindset that comes with those crises and challenges, we start to rob ourselves of our potential to be happy. Sadness can start to settle in.
But feeling sad can be a good thing. It builds character, and helps us to dig deep and to really feel our feelings. And we need to do that – to understand that our feelings are valid. Happiness is not about the absence of negative feelings; happiness is about believing that there is something you can do about those feelings. Honoring the negative feelings is the first step towards a happier mind. It’s unresolved sadness that is so dangerous because it leads us down a path toward discontent, loneliness, isolation, and illness.
Our brain is naturally programed to believe negative thoughts first – that’s our fight-or-flight response, and it’s the way nature intended us to be hard wired. But unless you’re hunting a saber-tooth tiger or need an adrenaline rush to help lift a car off someone, that wiring is no longer serving us. In fact, it can affect our ability to be happy. To overcome our genetic make-up, to feel happy, we must train our brains to think in new ways.
Work problems, health issues, family struggles, financial challenges and all the other everyday stressors put our mind and body into the flight-or-fight response. That bypasses our rational mind, which is where we create our positive thoughts and feelings. And positive outcomes is where we’ll find our happiness.
The good news is that academic research is now revealing solutions – including that we have more control over our minds than we may think. That we can take steps to stay in a rationally optimistic state, and thus create the right conditions to see possibilities and opportunities instead of challenges and conflicts.
Life can be hard – I get it. Experiencing my own crisis several years ago set me on a journey to learn more about the science of happiness. I lost my mother, my father, and my sister, in a short period of time. I had estates to settle, a business to run, bills to pay, all while trying to raise a teenage son and maintain a marriage.
Add to the mix a serious car accident, lost relationships and managing my grief, there were many days when pulling the covers over my head felt more appealing than getting out of bed. But I never allowed myself to stay in bed (OK, I’ll ‘fess up: maybe once….but that’s human; what you need to avoid is lying in bed day after day).
Finding your new normal, including new ways to live happy, after a crisis, is crucial. Many people get stuck in the overwhelming thoughts that happen during difficult times or struggles. In order to move forward, to continue to grow, and to be able to put the past behind us, we need tools to get us back to life.
The world will go on with or without us. To me, living life to the fullest is about choosing to go on with it. Every one of us has a story, and everyone’s level of happiness is going to be challenged at some point in their lives. When your happiness is challenged, which methods or tools do you have in place to help you move forward?
I have studied Positive Psychology, I’m a Mental Health 1st Aider and Peer Support trained, and have learned from some of the top happiness gurus (Shawn Achor, of The Happiness Advantage, is my top mentor). Through all my education, life experiences and research I have designed a road map to happiness – a road I will drive for the rest of my life. And now I dedicate my work to helping other people create their own road maps to happiness.
Life isn’t always easy, but life is a gift. You matter! And you deserve to live happy.
Please join me in becoming a happy ambassador @ ahappiermind. com; together, we can share a journey toward a healthier and happier life.
***If you have been struggling with your level of happiness lately know my heart goes out to you! Living in isolation, silence, pain is a journey I don’t wish on anyone. Reaching out to someone you trust and letting him or her know you don’t feel like yourself is the place to start. Don’t try to do this alone; getting the proper support is the best step you can take toward living your life happy. Calling 211 is a great resource toward help.
By Karen Judge, Mind Health Specialist
In the year 2001, I was introduced to the practice of singing mantra (chanting) for it’s health and spiritually elevating benefits. Through my practice of Kundalini Yoga (KY), which incorporates chanting into each class, I was exposed to an instructor, who not only did the monotone type chanting as a meditation, that I was used to, but also used melodic mantra music for each posture and invited everyone to sing along! I had never experienced singing in a yoga class before? I found that singing with each challenging exercise, and there are many in KY, really opened up my energy body and it was like I was tapping into an energy reserve I had no idea even existed.
After that experience, I began to experiment with using mantra music in the KY classes that I taught and eventually expanded into offering the experience simply on it’s own as a chant circle. I’ve experienced many benefits over the years from having a chant practice and would love to share some of those with you, as well as some advice on choosing the style of chant practice that will serve you.
How Does it Work and What Are the Benefits?
We have 84 energy meridian points on the roof of our mouth that become stimulated when we chant mantra. The way in which mantra stimulates these points acts as a code for health and wellness in our glandular and nervous systems and aids our immune function.
When our breath slows down to four breathes per minute, a channel opens between the hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal glands. This opening releases a nectar that rains down vitalizing our nervous system and our immune function.
It is said that the effect of chanting becomes exponential with each person that joins in.
Each mantra holds within it the potential for a specific transformational state of being. The more awareness one has, the more ability they will have to recognize when this occurs and to be able to embody that state.
Many people report feeling uplifted and elevated in mood after a chant circle. Within each chant circle, there is a potential to experience a deeper connection with one’s self as well as the community. Singing in general, tends to open one’s heart. Singing mantra, tends to open one’s heart and heal it as well.
Choose a Chant Experience That’s Right for You?
Sometimes a good place to “dip one’s toes in the water” is at a larger chant concert event, such as a Deva Premal or Snatam concert at a venue like The Jack Singer Concert Hall. At events such as this, there will be over 1000 people gathered to chant together. The larger event makes it possible to blend in and maybe not feel so conspicuous with your voice, and also have an experience of how the energy becomes exponential when that many people chant together.
From there you could try a smaller community chant circle, where 15-30 people gather. These events tend to feel more intimate and will usually be geared more towards your specific process with chant. They also tend to be more focused on building and connecting with a community of like-minded people.
Try It Several Times Before You Decide
Either way you go, I suggest trying it several times before you decide if it is right for you or not. Sometimes people who never have had chanting anywhere on their radar before, somehow happen upon a chant circle, and they are blown away by the experience and are instantly onboard for the next one. Others take time to warm up to it and work through some of the resistance that arises if they’ve had parts of their voice shut down in the past. Heightened energy in either direction, yay or nay, can be a signal that a chant practice will be of benefit to you.
Find a Facilitator That You Resonate With
Keep in mind when choosing a chant experience that each facilitator channels something different. Shop around until you find a particular kind of experience that speaks to you. For instance, in the chant circles that I facilitate, there is a focus on opening our heart center, connecting with the innocent and magical aspects of our soul and experiencing both the playful and sacred nature of that through our musical expression. No matter what the intention, each facilitator will have a unique way in which that flows through them to the participants and the space that is evoked.
Once you find an experience that serves your soul, then practice it! Reap the benefits of connecting with your whole self that includes the totality of your voice. Each voice sings a unique tune and when put together we become a world in harmony. And that’s a beautiful world to be a part of!
Owner, Tracy’s Vision
An email dinged in my inbox and it’s Yantara…”You must come to Egypt on the Sacred Tour and be one of my Co-Organizers”. Well, that sounded exciting, but rather farfetched. After all, wasn’t there a lot of unrest in that region these days? It felt like a distant bucket list item. I just didn’t have my sights set on that at that time.
I met Yantara Jiro on a trip several years ago to Indonesia. He instructed a Vocal Sound Healing Workshop for our group of Body Talk practitioners who came together to work with orphaned children in Batam, elephants in Sumatra and Orangutans in Borneo. My first meeting with this Spiritual Visionary was very memorable; his energy was so peaceful and powerful, that I knew I wanted to bring him to Canada. Yantara now makes Calgary area one of his many stops in his worldly travels.
After a couple of emails, I responded with “I’m in”. The excitement rose with each passing day, getting closer and closer to the departure date for this spiritual journey. Over the years, I have grown more connected with the knowledge and interest in Vibration, Sound and Frequencies for the purpose of healing and this approaching trip to Egypt was to be a defining experience, fuelling my journey and understanding of Sound Healing.
On November 30th I boarded the plane to Cairo with my Alchemy Crystal Singing Bowl in hand. After all, could I possibly go on a tour where vortexes abound, that promised sound activation workshops and meditations at sacred sites without my crystal singing bowl?
Arriving in Cairo were 59 very excited vibrational beings who were all thrilled about venturing out for the experience of ancient temples along the River Nile and pyramids. My body was already attuned to the frequencies of such an incredible place and started vibrating upon arrival. Our first introduction to our trip was our entry into the Temple of Luxor. The meditations we did there brought many more visitors in the form of Orbs. Some of the photos that captured the Orbs’ presence looked like we were in a snowstorm. I knew, after seeing these photos that we were in for a phenomenal trip.
Was I actually floating down the Nile on a cruise ship? How lucky were we to be under the light of a full moon on the upper deck of the ship. That meditation, accompanied by a sound bath with 10 crystal singing bowls, was unforgettable. Our trips to the Ancient Temples along the Nile resonated with our chakras. The Sunrise Meditation at Hatshepsut Temple was very powerful. Temple of Horus had me awestruck; I was truly on a journey. The meditation at the Isis Temple was quite profound. Toning as a group intensified the vibrations felt strongly in the physical body. Dendera Temple (Hathor) was unforgettable. Our bowls were played in the Chapel of Nut which uses a Venus Gateway vortex aligning us to the heavens. I was intrigued by the Hathors known abilities to use sound to manifest and construct buildings. That’s it, learning this information helped me to better understand how these massive temples were built…could it be Sound? Several more Temples were explored through physical visits and many downloading meditations. At the end of each day, I lie in my bed connecting with my feelings and vibrations of the day’s experience. Through deep feeling, I knew that this trip was destined to change me in many ways.
Each morning, when we disembarked, my body started to vibrate in anticipation of the next incredible experience. Getting up at 3:00am to get to the site for a private group tour was effortless for all of us. Our early morning sound meditation in the Chapel of Sekhmet at the Karnak (RA) Temple will never leave my memory.
I had several moments of wishing I could bring everyone I knew here to experience what we were experiencing. I think we all shared that wish, as we then did some group meditations and sent it out to the universe. I truly felt the expansion inwardly and outwardly.
The float down the Nile often had me in deep thought and appreciation. A trip for me couldn’t be complete without connecting with the people and their everyday lives that presented themselves along the sides of the river. Lots of manual labour in the fields as they cared for and nurtured their crops. Donkeys carrying their owners and pulling carts filled with the harvest of the day; playful children waving from the shore while the adults expressed welcoming smiles. I realized that it is the people themselves who are so incredible. No matter where we went they were so friendly and so proud of their country. There was no doubt that Egypt is a very spiritual place and that the frequencies of this magical space helped to transform these amazing people. I had heard so much about the unrest here, but I could not see it.
I was sad to leave the peaceful float of the Nile, but the anticipation of flying back to Cairo to experience the pyramids had me eager to go. I was starting to wonder how my bowl and my body would integrate all that we were experiencing. This was a nonstop invigorating trip so far.
Descending into the Step Pyramid (Sakkara) challenged my claustrophobic side, but the trust in the spiritual experience soon arose to then see me in the Chamber. The sound from the vibrations of our toning was louder than I had expected and the orbs were dancing and flying around the chamber. How would it be in the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid?
As I stood awestruck by the construction of the pyramids, the question arose within me…as does with everyone who stands in close proximity to them…How were these built and by whom? The answer that satisfied me was quite clear. If vibration was involved in the construction of these structures, just imagine what their off shoot of frequencies and vortexes can do to the transformation of our vibrational bodies. Healing through the increase of frequency could happen on the physical and energy bodies. This was magnified through the toning in the King’s Chamber especially while lying in the Sarcophagus. While in the Queen’s Chamber I did a BodyTalk session on a girl, one neither she, nor I, will forget. There is so much more that I understand now, yet so much more that makes me wonder just how much there is yet to learn and experience.
Could I really be standing between the paws of the Sphinx in meditation? My heart is full of gratitude for the experience that I am having with other spiritual beings. During these grand moments, I would play my crystal bowl and send intention out to the universe for all.
Nature is a very large component to my being. The frequencies that emanate from nature have always impacted me in a positive way. Spending three days in the White and Black deserts were no different. There were little to no trees, nor water. Yet the energies were very powerful. As I looked around in the White Desert, I questioned where I was. This looked like another planet. I welled up with appreciation for our beautiful and diverse planet Earth.
With a greater respect for Egypt, its people and its powerful energies I spent some time in reflection about the meditations, my experiences and all of our sound activation workshops. This life-changing experience has left its mark forever.
I am filled with gratitude and appreciation for these experiences. Every experience expands our awareness and frequencies. I have a very strong sense of knowing that what was energetically downloaded to me and my bowls will be carried forward to all others. When we operate in, and are aware of, this unified energy field that we all share, the healing and higher energies are not limited to those that experience them in these places. So, when upgrades are given to one, they can be felt by all.
I encourage all people to follow their passions for spiritual enlightenment through experiences of vibrational upgrades. Another trip is planned with the focus on reconnecting with the powerful primal energies of nature in the stunning Ancient Forests and Mountainous Regions of Yakushima Island, Japan, April 18-26th, 2015. Why don’t you join us? Information can be gathered through calling the Amaryllis Centre for Healing
Our strong focus is on Sound Healing and is used in all of the services we offer. Yantara Jiro will be offering workshops in August and September 2015 in the Calgary area. We will also be offering Sound Healing Workshops with Tuning Forks at the end of March and we offer a wide selection of Alchemy Crystal Singing Bowls, recognized as the purest in the world. My Indian Pipestone bowl resonated with the frequencies of Egypt and through intention, transferred downloads to all of the bowls in our collection. Book an energizing and healing sound bath and experience the healing benefits for yourself!
Life is meant to be lived and experienced. Create your own reality with the gifts our universe offers us.
By Martha Birkett,
Amaryllis Centre for Healing
10 Universal Principles to Living with More Peace, Balance and Joy
It all began with a meltdown and what could have been perceived as a full blown nervous breakdown. It was November 2008. The air was cold, the skies were grey – and so was my spirit. Not knowing whether I wanted to live or die, I focused on my breath…knowing that the breath would keep me calm.
It was then that I decided that life as I knew it needed to change and it needed to change quickly. I could no longer go on living in the meaningless cycle of a career that was harming my health and my soul.
And so, I gave up my six figure job in advertising and traveled to India where I lived in an ashram studying yoga and meditation in the hopes of discovering my self.
What I discovered, was so much more…
Upward Dog. Downward Dog. Child’s Pose.
You’ve heard about yoga. You may have even tried a class or perhaps you’ve been practicing for a while. Whatever your experience is with yoga, there’s no denying its power to create shift and transformation. However, yoga’s transformative power goes way beyond the bending and twisting poses that we see in magazines and yoga studios. In fact, yoga has very little to do with the postures.
The Yoga Sutras is an ancient yogic text written thousands of years ago by the Indian sage Patanjali. In essence, this is the bible of yoga and is written in 196 verses, each describing how we can use the wisdom of yoga to end a life of suffering and move towards a life with more peace, balance and joy.
Out of these 196 verses, only three of them talk about the physical postures. Only three!
Yet in our body and image obsessed world it’s all we focus on, missing out on a huge percentage of what yoga truly is. The Yoga Sutras reveals 10 Universal Principles that were created to be the absolute foundation of yoga. Developed with the intention to be mastered before you ever bust a yoga move, these principles act as a blueprint or “code” for creating a beautiful and inspired life, free from drama.
Inspired by these principles, I created The Yoga Code: a step by step blueprint for designing a life that is aligned with who you truly are – free from all the masks that we are asked to wear on a daily basis.
The Yoga Code can be applied to all areas of life including parenting, relationships, health, spirituality, business/career and finances.
The 10 Universal Principles of The Yoga Code are like a GPS for your soul, so when you go off course, you have a spiritual map to gently guide you back to the main road.
Here is a very small glimpse into each principle along with their sanskrit translation and ways you can begin to immediately implement them into your life:
PRINCIPLE 1: KINDNESS & COMPASSION (Ahimsa)
Practice non-harmful actions, thoughts and words towards others and more importantly, towards ourselves. Self-love is the foundation for everything. When we are kind and compassionate towards others (always giving, always helping) yet are not demonstrating that same kindness towards our own spirit, we begin to feel depleted and eventually resentful.
How you can practice Kindness & Compassion:
Develop what I call “non-negotiable me time” for a minimum of 15 minutes every day, first thing in the morning. This can be in the form of meditation, journaling, or even just sitting in silence with your morning hot beverage and a candle. By giving to yourself before you do anything else, you send a message to your spirit that says: You’re worth it!
PRINCIPLE 2: TRUTH (Satya)
Some may say a little white lie isn’t harmful, however when we are doing it continuously it begins to add weight on to our spirit. The most harmful way we lie is when we lie to ourselves. When the person we want to be on the inside is not in alignment with the life we have created on the outside, then we create the suffering associated with not living our truth.
How you can practice Truth:
Write down 3 areas in which you feel you are not living your truth. It could be your career, relationship, friendships or even the car you drive or the food you eat. What small action can you take today to move you closer to truth in these areas?
PRINCIPLE 3: NON-STEALING (Asteya)
We steal from ourselves when we play small and don’t step into the person we know we can be. When we allow procrastination or self-doubt to keep us from moving forward with our dreams, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to shine our brightest light into the world.
How you can practice Non-Stealing:
Look back on some of the goals you have set out for yourself or perhaps you have a vision board that symbolizes the life you want. Write down the actions you need to take in order to move forward, towards those dreams.
PRINCIPLE 4 – MODERATION (Brahmacharya)
Let’s face it, we live in a world of excess. Consumerism, food, alcohol, and even exercise can be taken to the extreme. We’ll use food as an example for this purpose since we can all relate to eating too much. Whenever we pass the point of having “enough” we deplete our spiritual energy. When we learn to see the divine in everything we consume, we will naturally refrain from going overboard.
How you can practice Moderation:
Go buy your favorite food, something that you would consider a treat. Now take a moment to set the tone. Light a candle, sit down in a comfortable chair. Take a small portion, less than half of what you normally would and “make love” to it. Feel the texture, taste the flavours, chew it until it dissolves and then – stop. Repeat this the next day. Notice how you’ll become satisfied with so much less, allowing yourself to enjoy your treats more often.
PRINCIPLE 5 – NON-ATTACHMENT (Aparigraha)
We all carry attachments. Attachments to material objects, to people, to relationships, to beliefs, to our status in the community, to careers, to outcomes. Attachments are simply an avoidance pattern. When we cling to something external, we avoid the inner work that needs to be done. Attachments weigh us down. They are energetically heavy and are often the cause of exhaustion. When we let go of these attachments, we are gifted with an abundance of freedom.
How you can practice Non-Attachment:
Awareness is the first step towards letting go. Go into your closet and pick out five items that you’ve been hanging onto yet haven’t worn in years. Ask yourself: Why am I still keeping this? What is the story that I’m attached to? Will my life be affected negatively if I don’t keep them? The answer will most likely be no. Pack them up and bring them to a homeless shelter then notice how that feels. Repeat.
PRINCIPLE 6 – PURITY & SIMPLICITY (Saucha)
Everything we see, do, say and feel make up the total of our life experiences, and each of these experiences leave an impression and take up space in our body, mind, and soul. When we learn how to simplify our complicated lives, we can begin to create space within these areas, moving us from a state of contraction to a state of expansion – and this is where the magic of manifestation happens.
How you can practice Purity and Simplicity:
Surroundings – Declutter your home and create a sacred space that feeds your soul.
Mind – Meditate and take time for stillness. A disorganized inner life equals a disorganized outer life.
Body – Simplify your diet. Eat foods that are alive and feed your body with nourishment and energy. Do yoga.
Soul – Practice forgiveness.
PRINCIPLE 7 – CONTENTMENT (Santosha)
Life is a series of experiences that come to us in ebbs and flows. We tend to label these experiences as either “good” or “bad”, causing us to feel low in the bad times and then worry that the good ones will end. Learning to find joy and contentment in our lives regardless of our external circumstances will propel us into a state of calm inner peace, ending our needless suffering.
How you can practice Contentment:
Practice gratitude. When we spiral into a tornado of negativity and despair we move further away from contentment. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed or in a state of chaos, write down 10 things that you are grateful for in your life. Read this list 3 times and notice how your energy changes.
PRINCIPLE 8 – COMMITMENT (Tapas)
Translated from sanskrit, Tapas literally means heat. This principle asks us to hang in there when we feel the fire. It is through our darkest and most challenging moments that we are asked to dig deep, to gather our courage and determination so that we may take another breath. By doing so, we emerge stronger, more confident and ready to leap into the beauty of life.
How you can practice Commitment:
Take a blank sheet of paper and write down some of the most difficult experiences in your life. The moments where you believed you couldn’t take another step – but you did. What did you learn? How did you grow? Can you see the gift that was hidden deep within your struggles?
PRINCIPLE 9 – SELF-INQUIRY (Svadhyaya)
In our desire to create more meaning and purpose in our lives, we must begin with self-reflection. By committing to a path of continuous learning and spiritual growth, we become better able to see our true selves without the various masks we wear to hide our divine identity. In turn, we see others as who they truly are as well. As we heal and nurture our relationship with ourselves, we strengthen our connection with others.
How you can practice Self-Inquiry:
For one entire day, use a journal to document your reactions to people and circumstances. What triggers you in a positive way? In a negative way? Observe your thoughts, words, actions and note how it feels when you display them. At the end of the day, go through your journal and make note of anything that stands out.
PRINCIPLE 10 – SURRENDER (Ishvara Pranidhana)
Each of the previous nine principles have brought us here. We are asked to show up, do the work as best as we can, then we simply allow the Universe to take over from here. By accepting that there is a force much greater than us at work, we take some of the pressure off ourselves from having to have it all figured out.
How you can practice Surrender:
The yoga pose associated with this principle is savasana or corpse pose. Upon completing the poses, you are gifted the opportunity to surrender. If you can, attend a yoga class or practice at home and allow yourself a long, beautiful savasana. If the physical aspect of yoga isn’t your thing, then schedule time in your day to pause and do nothing. Let your day and your life integrate. Give it space to breathe so that you may have space to “be”.
By Jackie Dumaine
Coach, Speaker, Guide, Creator of the Yoga Code™