Choosing Happiness

By Colleen Saidman Yee, May, 2009

When you forget your true nature and look for happiness in external ways, that is the basic ignorance. The aim of all the Yoga practices is to stop anything from disturbing the mind so that it can reflect the Peace and Joy that is your true nature.”
~ Sri Swami Satchidananda

We heard this great line from a comedian named Louis CK. If you get a chance, check him out on YouTube. It is a wake up call put in a very funny package. I don’t know about you, but I am sick of complaining. We do live in an amazing time, but there seems to be a lack of gratitude. There are so many vehicles for communication, but what is being said? How many words are being wasted talking about what is wrong? What would happen if we could stop complaining for a whole day? And then we could add gratitude to our day of non-complaining. Our reality would be very different. Suffering in the form of selfishness, anxiety, and despair may dissipate. Maybe our minds would have a chance to settle. And then, to top it off, let’s add a service component to our day of non-complaining and gratitude. Swami Satchidananda says that all we have to do to be happy is to feed people. I believe that at the end of this day, we would crawl into bed with a peaceful heart, a calm mind, and we may be tempted to do it again.

I teach a women’s retreat in Mexico. This was the 9th year with the same group of women. There is one woman that has attended all 9 retreats. She has a large tumor on her spine, and is in an enormous amount of pain. She has little to no feeling in her limbs. She, laughingly, says that she wakes up every morning feeling like a scarecrow, wondering which limbs she will be able to feel today.

The point is that I have never heard her complain about anything. It is very obvious that her life is all about service. She is constantly amazed, and finds humor in every situation. She has chosen to be happy.

The comedian says that the next time we fly, we should be holding onto our seats, screaming with delight at the miracle of sitting in a chair in the sky, and flying like a bird across the sky. So, let’s not complain the next time we have a 2-hour delay, or sit on the runway for an hour, or get stuck in the middle seat. Let’s live in constant awe and gratitude. Everything is amazing and we can choose to be happy.

With gratitude,

Colleen Saidman Yee

A graduate of Jivamukti’s 1998 teacher-training program, Colleen opened Yoga Shanti, in Sag Harbor, in 1999. She has taught several teacher trainings at Yoga Shanti, some with her husband, Rodney Yee. The New York Times christened Colleen "The First Lady of Yoga," and has also been featured in Vanity Fair, New York magazine, Oprah, Marie-Claire, Allure, and Yoga Journal. Before that she had a varied career: She was a cover girl, a student of shiatsu, and she lived in Calcutta, working with Mother Theresa at the Home for the Dying and Destitute. More recently, together with Rodney, Colleen helped to create Urban Zen's Integrative Yoga Therapist Program, Donna Karan’s worldwide initiative. Colleen's latest yoga DVD is "Calorie Killer Yoga." Colleen is a co-founder of Yoga Shanti New York.

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