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Sister Paths to the Happy Life

Many roads lead to health and wholeness, but two in particular will get us there faster. These two non-Western, holistic paths are Yoga and Ayurveda. They are non-western because they were born from the Eastern Vedic Tradition of India. They are holistic because they do not divide a person into separate parts of flesh and thoughts and mechanisms. They see the person as a unit of body-mind-spirit. They understand the human as a NON-DUALITY, NOT A DUALITY. Humans are whole. We just don’t see that very often.

The path of Raja Yoga is the meditative, spiritual part of the Yogic Tradition. The Samkhya philosophy is the foundation of that tradition. Ayurveda is the lifestyle path of the Samkhya philosophy. Ayurveda helps people handle the four major urges or needs in our lives, namely: food, sleep, sex and self-preservation. I have mentioned these four needs often in my writing, but today I want to focus on the union of the four.

Whenever we don’t have the proper food, or are sleep-deprived, or don’t get enough physical attention (not necessarily sex, but hugs and non-sexual touches), we get irritated and actually start to worry that we are not going to have enough of what we need to survive, much less to be happy. It starts to get angry and even strikes out at anything and anyone that is perceived to be keeping the proper amount of food, sleep, or hugs from us. This yelling and screaming or anger is because the unit of the human feels threatened. It is the victim of some cruel threat.

An example will help us understand this. Notice what happens when little children, especially two- or three-year-olds, are overtired. They yell and scream and fight mom or dad. The child undermines its own needs and fights going to sleep. Sometimes just holding the child helps, yet usually they don’t even want to be touched. I saw this with my granddaughter last week. It was after 10 pm and Tia did not have a nap all day. She bounced around in the resort lake water most of the afternoon. Now she wanted some food even though she really should have been in bed about an hour ago. I took some of her blueberries and she went berserk. She flailed around and couldn’t be consoled. Her whole self was in self-preservation mode because one of the ingredients of happiness, according to Ayurveda, was missing—she needed sleep.

I often find myself hungry late at night, not just because my digestive juices start to rumble, but because I am tired and want to stay up and finish what I am doing. By eating late at night I throw off my digestion and my internal peace and even find myself upset as I am heading to bed two hours later. Our lifestyle patterns of meeting these basic needs and urges trigger our feelings and then our thoughts become negative and we suffer in our spirits. Managing all of these needs well means making a happy Michael.

I encourage you to study yourself in reference to how each of the individual needs affect the entire you! Knowing this can make this difference between happiness and misery.

Happy unity! That means happy yoga to you!


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