embrace the moment

Stop chasing happy...and embrace the moment

Are you chasing happiness? Start embracing the ‘moments’ of happiness if you want to lead a fuller, richer life, writes Katia Shulga

You know that blissful feeling of Savasana at the end of your yoga practice, feeling magically both energised and relaxed? Or, that moment in meditation when all of a sudden the stillness allows your entire body and breath to soften into the moment? Or, when you’re having a good laugh with your friends and can’t help but look around and think to yourself, how lucky am I? Or reaching the top of a hill after a difficult hike, and looking over the landscape, amazed by the beauty around you?

There are so many moments that I can think of as ‘happy moments’ — Short glimpses of time when everything just felt so right. Don’t we all want to feel more of them, more of the time? I think that’s natural.

But it’s easy to forget those moments are so precious because they are just that —  ‘moments’.

Somehow, there seems to be this great ‘Happiness’ with a capital ‘H’, somewhere over the horizon in the future, that overshadows these small moments. We expect and hope that these moments can be stretched out to an entire day, week, month, year, or life.

Chasing happy

Logically, we all probably know that chasing happiness is fruitless, and yet we’ve all fallen prey to that thought: “When XYZ happens, then I’ll be happy”. We’re projecting a beautiful future onto ourselves only when we’ve achieved or got something that we think will make us a little more complete.

Unfortunately, this chasing and projecting is actually robbing us of the happiness of the present moment. We miss out on what is here in favour of what could be ‘over there’.

I remember envisioning myself as a yogi: calm, compassionate, and happy most of the time. This is what drew me to yoga, that it would somehow ‘fix’ me. Like any first moments of love, I saw yoga as this beautiful solution to all my unhappiness.

But yoga is a tricky one, it teaches you what you need to know, rather than serving you up with what you want or expect from it.

Savour the moment

The serene future yogi eating only organic fresh food, never drinking, in bed before 9pm and up and practicing at 5am never happened.

Possibly, because that isn’t in fact the path to happiness.

But I think yoga and meditation revealed something more profound. That happiness is just a moment. That everything is in a state of flux. We can have more moments, extended moments, but we can’t make a moment last a lifetime, no matter how hard we try.

In fact, the harder we try, the less likely it is to stay.

What we learn is that within a 60-minute practice, there are moments of awkwardness, annoyance, pleasure, happiness, ease, resistance, boredom, zoning out, anger and everything in between. They are all but moments, and we move from one to the other.

Our ability to stay present with them and ourselves is what the practice is about. Learning to not chase that elusive thing, but staying with it all.

Small things

The biggest changes often come from the smallest of things.

Next time you find yourself imagining that perfect happiness somewhere in the future, find a way to create just a moment of happiness in the here and now.

When you find yourself in a yoga pose that brings you joy, take it all in, let it nourish you, and then move on to the next, knowing that a brief moment is all it takes.

Embracing moments of happiness takes mindfulness; we need to learn to drink in those moments fully, not because there may not be another one for a while, but because that IS happiness.

It is here, always lurking around the corner ready to delight us, not somewhere in the static, perfect future.

And, like a butterfly, it will land for a moment and be off.

Katia Shulga

Katia is a London based yoga and meditation teacher with a passion for words. She holds a PhD in Literature.