I've considered renaming my brand multiple times because the last thing I want is to perpetuate the idea that we should be happy all the time.
Happiness is an elusive experience that can keep us in a cycle of attachment, craving, and feeling a sense of lack once it has subsided.
Conventional happiness is dependent on external objects and experiences. The reality is that the moment we acquire the thing we thought we wanted, it begins to lose some of its luster. We end up on the hedonic treadmill pursuing the next big thing we think we need or will finally provide longer lasting contentment.
When I think back to when I started to catch myself saying I had a "happy heart," most of those memories are associated to being in nature. Although nature brought the feeling forward, a "happy heart" feels like trust, a spark of the message "all is well" flooding my awareness. It feels more like a deep remembering.
After walking away from the cult I grew up in when I was 17, I stepped as far away from anything that resembled a religion because of my scars from that organization. That being said, each time I say or think "happy heart," I can't help but feel something spiritual - a sense of something much bigger than the small lens from which I had been viewing the world.
These days, happy heart continues to unfold and evolve. Its felt in my low moments where sadness takes over and I can sit in the sadness, tending to my inner experience of that heavy emotion with a wakeful presence that feels nurturing. I feel it when I hear my nieces sing a beautiful Christian song at the top of their lungs (check out the song Way Maker), when I can move my body to sounds from my culture ("La Quiero a Morir" is one of those classics <3), when I feel the resonance in the Om I share with my community at the end of our yoga classes, when I read the words from a page that take my breath away and sound like a message long forgotten, the aroma of a flower in nature, CLOUDS, big puffy cumulous clouds, the sound of my rescued cat purring, and feeling the essence of places that have taken my breath away residing in my cells.
"Happy heart" began with moments of profound beauty in nature, but it was just a catalyst. Those moments simply reflected my true nature back to me. Vast, boundless, pure, and deeply connected to something much bigger than the small self that identifies with circumstances.
Instead of changing the name of my brand, I would much rather express the beauty and liberating experience of tending to and befriending all of our emotions with our happy heart. The core values of Happy Hearts Yoga Project are compassion, resilience, and purpose. All 3 of these values are powered by the cultivation of a "happy heart" that can stay open regardless of our circumstances. This a courageous journey toward wholeness where we can choose to navigate the full spectrum of our emotions with grace and authenticity.
Here is my list of ways to cultivate a "happy heart."
Watch the sunrise or sunset in silence.
Recall a moment of awe.
Recognize the growth you've experienced because of overcoming a challenge in your life.
Recall a time where you chose to forgive because you realized the heaviness of resentment was not aligning with your deepest intentions.
Reconnect with your inner nature AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE. Do this when you are bored, excited, angry, sad, worried, or confused.
Open to simple moments of joy for a fully awake 15 seconds.
Interrupt the moment of your stories to sense into your unconditioned awareness that can witness that stream of thoughts with more spaciousness.
Look deeply into your pet's eyes.
Sit with a friend and sense into their being, into who they were before their circumstances molded their idea of who they think they are.
Close your eyes and let yourself feel the dance of soundwaves resonating within you as you listen to this song.
Do something challenging, get uncomfortable, and embrace leaving your comfort zone in order to align with your greatest capacity to LIVE FULLY.
Bring to mind a historical figure who expanded your mind because of their bravery or ability to transcend their circumstance. What were they able to overcome? How did they relieve suffering for those around them?
PLAY. Release ideas of performance or perfection.
Eat FRESH food or make a meal sensing into the people, plants, soil, pollinators, and rain that contributed to the possibility of that food.
Have the challenging conversations you've been avoiding and ensure they happen in alignment with your core values, your highest good.
Choose to do it afraid instead of holding yourself back because of fear of failure.
Let yourself be bored instead of checking social media/emails/news when you are in queue. Even better, send kind wishes to those around you. Especially the person receiving that queue.
Feel the beat of your heart, connect to it, and then smile at someone feeling that connection.
Spend time with elders and ask them lots of questions.
Offer your time/energy to be of service and ensure this is done when your cup is not depleted.
Go for a walk in your neighborhood and look at the details of any plant life.
Travel to places completely different from the culture you were raised in and find places where the locals go.
Forgive yourself by acknowledging the history and circumstances that lead to your choices.
MOVE YOUR BODY.
Pause on your hikes to feel the energy of the land and life within it.
Surround yourself with people that choose action over fear.
Become intentional the moment you wake up and the moment you are falling asleep. Choose what you want to cultivate!
What does "happy heart" mean to you??