You know those days that move so smoothly and effortlessly where everything is sweet and easeful? Then those other days that feel like an utter slog, bangin' about trying to find the door in to yourself and your flow? The former is an experience of Sukha-- open space; and the later is Dukha-- restricted space.
The good news is, once we can identify what state we are in, we can affect our sukha and dukha.. to have more open space and less of the restricted space.
We'll be exploring this theme in yoga classes in Waverton, but of course these practices are also life skills, so even if you wont be joining me for class this week I invite you to dive in...
Sukha and Dukha are Sanskrit words...
SUKHA is often translated as; comfort, ease, grace, happiness or sweetness.
The great sage Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutras nearly three thousand years ago, gave us one single instruction for how to practice asana (yoga postures). Yoga Sutra 2.46 "Sthira Sukham Asanam" which is most commonly translated as “posture (asana) [should be] steady (sthira) and comfortable (sukha),” Here sukha is an invitation to find comfort while we practice yoga, but the word is more literally translated as “good space.” Practicing "good space,” requires our prana (life force energy) be free flowing, strong and healthy. Cultivating healthy prana extends beyond the yoga mat to include, how we use our energy in daily life, who we chose to interact with, what we eat, how well we sleep etc etc.
Sukha is also talked about as being the centre of a wheel. David Life writes. "The centre of a wheel is called sukha in Sanskrit, when the axle rides smoothly. Sukha also means happiness. A happy axle is one that is turning smoothly at the very centre of the wheel. To swell in sukha is to dwell in the eternal happiness of our soul."
He goes on to discuss how much of the time we humans ride at the edge of the wheel, caught spinning in the chaos of thought, pulled in to the whirring of the senses and emotions. With steady concentration we can glide down a spoke to the centre of the wheel and abide in sukha "the good center, where nothing is changing and everything is real".
You can see why we'd want to orient ourselves towards cultivating more sukha in our life, right?
So, how might we do that?
Swami Satchidananda suggests "Who will be the happiest person? The one who brings happiness to others." (this is the law of Karma, we become the thoughts words and actions we project and get what we give)
Similarly, His Holiness the Dalai Lama offers "If you seek happiness, go to the cause. Nothing exists without a cause. the root cause of happiness is compassion"
DUKHA is often translated to mean suffering, but the concept of dukha means much more than this. Amy Weintraub writes "The real meaning of dukha has within it the seeds of recovery from dukha, it literally means obstructed space"
So if we know we are experiencing an obstruction, somewhere in our body-mind, the yoga practice must then cultivate sukha as the anti-dote, ie the creation of spaciousness.
Furthermore Patanjali suggests ahimsa (non-violence/kindness) as the way to avoid suffering/ dukha.
From David Life again... "Do not cause suffering to any being and the resulting benefit is that eventually you will be free from suffering this benefit evolves, of course, after many years (or perhaps lifetimes) of practicing ahimsa."
David here is talking about the law of karma, i.e. what you do to others will be done to you.
With respect to cultivating more sukha and less dukha, many the great teachers agree that KINDNESS is the path, just make sure you don't get to attached to the outcome.
We have immense power over our lives once we understand that we can control our thoughts, therefore creating sukha your life can be a choice.
5 WAYS TO PRACTICE SUKHA
to create more ease and sweetness in your life.
* Free the mind from attachments (meditate)
* Free the body of tension (move and breath)
* Practice gratitude.
* Avoid doing harm to others.
* Spread kindness through your thoughts, words and actions.