By: Jagat Singh Bisht | Write-For-RedPaper
Can we be happy on a continuous basis? How can we attain and sustain a tranquil mind? Is it possible for us to develop a simple routine that can keep us charged throughout the day? Can we prevent stress from arising in our daily life? Is there a way to be child-like once again in body, mind and spirit?
These are some of the questions I have been pondering over for more than two decades now. Not just pondering but researching and experimenting. I feel happy and fulfilled that years of hard work has borne fruit and I can now share something worthwhile which will be of great benefit to many.
I began my journey as a behavioral science trainer facilitating people to discover their real self. Sometimes I was with them for long hours and felt satisfied that I was able to help them. But when I went back home, I found it difficult to share the experience I had had during the day with my wife. It felt sad as some of them were valuable experiences indeed.
We, therefore, decided to take up an activity that we could do together. It proved to be our wisest decision ever.
We went to learn laughter yoga and thereafter conducted sessions to bring smiles on the faces around. It was our way of giving back. We had never imagined that we would go so deep into it and engage with participants coming from almost the whole world.
Laughter yoga is one of the happiest activities that one can imagine of. It generates a lot of positivity. It is good for health and generates instant joy. Unconditional laughter many a times leads you to a deep meditative state freeing you of all stress and worries of life. It is also a sweet spiritual experience when you can make the depressed ones laugh and the tough ones crack like kids.
Despite numerous positives, we felt that it had its own limitations. It was like a pudding and human beings need wholesome meal.
We started exploring yoga nidra – a systematic method for inducing complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation. As we went deeper and deeper, we unearthed hidden treasures. That lead us to the ancient techniques of meditation and subsequently to Buddha’s mindfulness and insight meditation.
The Science of Happiness & Well-being
Concurrently, I was following the latest developments in positive psychology. Per its founder, Martin Seligman, the five elements of well-being are positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. Being a student of science myself, I have all the reverence for Seligman but, having delved a bit into spirituality, I believe that well-being is not only a construct but is multi-dimensional and much more complex.
Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology, describes the most effective happiness activities in her book entitled ‘The How of Happiness’. It is interesting that these activities include: practicing religion and spirituality, taking care of your body (meditation), taking care of your body (physical activity), taking care of your body (acting like a happy person).
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, psychologist, finds great similarities between yoga and flow. He considers yoga as a “thoroughly planned flow activity” as both try to achieve a joyous, self-forgetful involvement through concentration, which in turn is made possible by a discipline of the body.
Stephen Covey, Daniel Goleman, Matthieu Ricard and Richard Gere, to name just a few of the luminaries, practice meditation and have deep faith in meditation as a contributing factor for enduring happiness.
Experiments with happiness
Based on our study, we carried out some experiments with happiness. We created and administered four programmes to different sets of participants in different environment.
The first programme is named ‘The Wheel of Happiness and Well-Being’ for participants in a formal set-up like workplace or educational institution. It includes inputs of positive psychology, meditation, yoga, laughter yoga and spirituality. The sessions are well appreciated and the audience find great value in it.
Some people seek peace and serenity. For them we conduct a programme named ‘Meditate like Buddha’ once a week early in the morning. It’s only ingredient is meditation – pure meditation, nothing else. All the participants desire to have the programme daily.
We conduct ‘Happiness boot camp’ on weekends for families in a park. It includes yoga, meditation, laughter yoga and fun activities. The response has been getting better and better.
Then, we also have a longish, multi-dimensional retreat of a week’s duration named ‘East meets West’ which blends the best of modern science with ancient wisdom. Here you learn to make your life happier, meaningful and worthwhile and also train to be a versatile and multi-faceted Happiness and Well-Being Facilitator.
It has plentiful inputs from Positive Psychology, Yoga, Meditation, Laughter Yoga and Spirituality along with special offerings of Yoga Nidra, Surya Namaskara, Anapana Meditation, Sufi Meditation and Happiness Activities.
(We have planned one such retreat on the bank of Ganga in the Himalayas at Rishikesh, India from October 1 – 7, 2017. Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org in case you are interested.)
Having conducted sessions and interacted with thousands of people for years now, we feel that we have the recipe for happiness and well-being with us. Being able to touch lives is the ultimate fulfillment.