The Secret to Ananda/Bliss: A letter to myself from my YTT
Updated: May 12, 2019
When I graduated my Yoga Teacher Training, I was probably the happiest I have ever been in my life. I knew I had a bright future ahead of me, and a new mission: to help people realize what I had on my journey. I knew to be a great teacher, I would still have to work on myself. I learned that in life, there are so many things that can hold us back from bliss or "ananda", but if you take a holistic approach to health, you can make great strides towards feeling more at peace. This was my letter to myself at the end of my YTT, years ago. I encourage you to write your own and I'll help you later in this article!
"The concept of ananda, or bliss is very important in yoga. Living a blissful existence isn't always easy, but can be worked on and becomes easier. To me, bliss isn't just an elated feeling. It's freedom, comfort within your own body (physically, mentally, and spiritually), and comfort within your environment. In life, many different factors can hold us back from ananda. It can be a complicated process to diagnose and fix these personal issues, but if we work on the areas that hold us back from bliss, we can find happiness and contentment in life naturally and easily.
In my physical body, I deal with obstacles that hold me back from bodily comfort. I often have a stiff or sore neck during or after my practice. I believe this is due to stress and holding my neck tightly. I also think that my neck positioning in certain poses may have an effect on this. I plan to combat this by introducing more neck stretches into my practice ad putting more focus on my neck during my flows. I am also not naturally very flexible in my back. Backbends have always been something I avoid, so I plan to embrace them and include them in my daily practice. I also often deal with wrist pain, so I am going to modify a lot of poses on my forearms and focus on lifting up out of my foundation more when on my hands. For example, in plank pose, I can create less pressure on the joints that way.
In my chakra system, I have certain imbalances that affect my quality of life. My root chakra is unbalanced due to an uncertainty about my living situation and financial stability as I am currently unemployed. All I can do to combat that is to stay strong through the changes and plan the best I can for this next step in my life. I also am working on ways to be self-employed through my yoga, music, and jewelry business. My solar plexus is under-active because of a lack of self confidence and that fact that I often compare myself to others. So, from here on out, I will try my best to stop comparing myself to others, have gratitude, and recognize my own self worth. I feel my third eye chakra is unbalanced because I fear of visualizing the future. I have been through so much I tend to think of the negative possibilities and shy away because I am afraid. To fight this urge to be negative about myself and my future I will begin to visualize the positive on purpose and start to trust my intuition. I have certain reoccurring thoughts that hold me back from ananda. The most common of those is that I'm not or I won't be good enough. I have to remind myself that I do the best I can and that's enough. I will make that my positive mantra to counter the negative thought patterns. I also fear that I won't be able to manage my anxiety in certain situations. I must remember that everything will be okay in the end and I am way stronger than I feel sometimes. Most of the time the worst of all possibilities isn't even that bad. The worrying I put myself through is often the real source of my pain. Another common thought is that I'm gaining weight or that I look bad. The truth is I am beautiful the way I am, big or small, makeup or no makeup, and if I need to make a healthy change, I trust that I will.
I have some bad habits that sometimes keep me from living in bliss. One of the biggest ones for me is procrastination, often caused by anxiety, that only leaves me with way more anxiety. I need to kindly push myself to stay on task and set specific and reasonable goals. Another bad habit is emotional eating, which leads to negativity about my body or weight. I have actively battled this for a long time. I feel this was a huge factor in why I used to be overweight. After losing 90lbs, I have mostly gotten the hang of managing this by doing healthy cook-aheads and being strict about portion control. However, I could always improve my diet and I plan to include even more healthy food into my daily meals as well as continuing on a good track like I have been. Finally, I have a tendency to hide myself away and become reclusive when things feel overwhelming. Instead, I should be taking walks outdoors, spending time in nature, and embracing my loved ones who care what I am going through. Overall, if I work on all these areas on my life, I know I will be closer to bliss. Approaching life's problems and setbacks by taking a deeper look at all areas of yourself is effective way to solve them. Contentment in life is easier when you take care of yourself as a whole." -Olivia Rose (2016)
UPDATES: What has changed since
-Physically, my neck and wrists no longer feel discomfort and my backbends have improved significantly. I remember this being a challenge for me and an area of weakness for a long time, and now people strive for what I do. I'm proud to be proof of how much progress you can make with consistent effort.
-I am self employed and teach yoga, create crystal jewelry, and write and perform music! I have gained so much confidence and live all my passions daily!
-I try not to procrastinate, but still have that tendency. Usually, I like to get work done in one sitting and have found a way to effectively get things done in a timely manner. I plan events ahead and write notes for myself. Recently, I've been doing yoga hikes and Kitty Yoga!
-I have removed self criticism from my vocabulary and regularly replace negativity with positive mantras!
Overall, I feel I still have work to do- but I am happy to see how far I've come and what I have manifested for myself in the past few years!
How to Write Your Own:
Start with notes. Here's an example of how I did it!
Areas to work on:
Physical body: Problems and solutions
Problems: stiff neck, inflexible back/not naturally suited for backbends, wrist pain
solutions: neck stretches, more backbends, wrist stretches & modifications
Chakras: Which chakra imbalances are holding me back from Ananda, and how can I change it?
Root: no financial stability and my housing situation is changing
-stay strong through the changes & prepare for this next step in my life to the best of my ability
Solar Plexus: lack of self confidence and comparing myself to others
-stop comparing myself, have gratitude & recognize my own self worth
Third Eye: fear of visualizing because I have been through so much I tend to go to the negative possibilities
-visualize the positive on purpose, trust my intuition
What negativity do I let into my life through reoccurring thoughts? Create a Positive Mantra to counteract the Negative!
-I'm not or I won't be good enough/ I do the best I can and that's enough
-I won't be able to manage my anxiety/ Everything will be okay, I am stronger than I think
-I'm gaining weight and I look bad/ I am beautiful the way I am and I am healthy, if I need to make a healthy change I will
What are your bad habits and what actions will you take to fix them?
Procrastination/laziness-which leads to anxiety:
-push myself and set specific goals
Emotional eating-which leads to negativity about my body/weight
-cook aheads & portion control
Being reclusive/hiding away indoors
-spend more time outside and socializing
This is all you reasonably ever have to do, but if you want to take it a step further, put it into an essay format or journal entry for yourself to read later! Putting it into passionate words can help the message stick!
Find ways to be accountable for all of this. Post your goals, journal about it, tell a friend or family member, etc. Keep track of your progress and look back to see how you've changed in mindset over the process!
Good Luck manifesting your dreams and goals!