Find Joy in Sorrow, and Taste the Richness of Human Emotions

Yesterday's entry touched upon the paradox of pursuing happiness, that the pursuit brings unhappiness itself when we begin to resist negative thoughts and emotions. What we resist always persists. Happiness is meant to be pursued happily.

It asks of us to master the Art of Self-Acceptance - to accept both joy and sorrow, kindness and meanness, virtue and vice, courage and cowardice - whatever interwoven in the spider web of our human mind. Celebrate their existence, welcome their arrival, and bow to their departure for the lessons they each teach us.

Yoga teaches me much about Self-Acceptance. At the heart of Self-Acceptance there is complete relaxation and letting go. At the end of the yoga sequence, the body and mind settle down in the final pose –Savasana, the “Dead Body”. Savasana, the most important pose in all of yoga asana, is a non-pose.

The technique is simple. That it is simple does not make it easy. Most people find it extremely difficult.

As a survival mechanism, our muscles contract and tense when one encounters stressful situations, when we experience physical or psychological pains. Upbringing, education, career, and metropolitan lifestyle advocate tension. For many of us, our muscles are contracted so constantly that we are not at all aware of it. Our brains have forgotten how a relaxed muscle feels like.


My yoga teacher very often tells us to slowly watch our bodies, from head to toes, like a scan machine. Whenever the ray of attention touches, inhale; and in the next exhalation, release. Melt on the floor. Drop into the earth. Lie on the mat like a dead body, on a flower boat floating on the river of life, go with the river.

No control is exerted. No trying, even the trying to calm or empty the mind. We want our physical body and conscious mind to disintegrate all together. We want to get out of the way.

A gentle observation helps us immerse in our senses: the smell of fresh toast, the sound of a summer rain, the sensation of the skin on our back pressing to the earth, the light touch of air on the our fingertips, the beats of our hearts. Do nothing, think nothing; we feel everything. We realize that when we stop controlling, we empty our room for the world to come in.

We like that place but most of us will be swept away by the wind of thoughts, emotions, images, words. This wind forever blows. In order not to be swept away by this wind, we simply not get involve. We simply watch. Whenever it dawns on us that we have gone with the wind, smile. Smile and gently bring ourselves back to present by following our breaths.

“Let go of everything and see what’s left.”

Erich Schiffmann

When I let go of everything, what’s left of me is something grand and ancient, as if it has been here since the time when what graze on the meadow isn’t cattle but long-necked dinosaurs. With each exhalation, sink a little deeper into that ancient place, into the center of the subconscious mind.

Yoga vid Dödsklippan

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Negative emotions are raging blizzards, so sink deep is the eye of the storm.

When the weatherman forecasts cyclone, smile.

Be glad.

Here you are - a two-legged capable of feeling.

Welcome the blizzard with open arms, legs, and mouth.

Hatred, doubt, fear, jealousy, cowardice, anger – come what may.

Feel it.

Feel it in every single bone, muscle, organ, cell.

“Oh! This feels good!” Say it, sing it, dance it! Yes it feels good.

In the eye of the storm.

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Spirituality isn't about getting rid of negativity. Spirituality is about letting all passing through us with no trace, while enjoying the richness of our human experience.

When we understand this, we are no longer afraid. We know nothing bad can happen to us. We begin to live freely. "All of life experiences are worth experiencing," in the words of Michael A. Singer. We want to experience it all in the short time we are given in this earth.

Breathe it all in.

Love it all out.


Here I thought of a scene in Amélie that moved me to tears. When the Glass Man spoke to Amélie who dares not open the door of her heart to the man she loves: “So, my little Amélie, you don't have bones of glass. You can take life's knocks. If you let this chance pass, eventually, your heart will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton. So, go get him, for Pete's sake!”

I remind myself the same: I don’t have bones of glass. I can take life knocks.

You can too. Let go.

Paint that painting, dance that dance, sing that song

Come what may

Taste it - bitter, salty, sweet, sour

One thousand joys and sorrows.


- - photo courtesy: Mitchell Joyce, Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Andreas Ivarsson on Flickr, in accordance with Creative Common