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Writing

On Happiness by Kasia Kaminska

photos by Sneha Reddy

scroll down to read in English

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ON HAPPINESS

You have made a bold step to move from the very big and vibrant city which is New York to live here, in Morjim...

 Yes. We now live in a small Goan village close to the ocean on a coconut farm. We are among peacocks, water buffalos and monkeys. There were many unknowns when making the move but we had to try. Behind it was many years of hard work - cultivating land, working with the local panchayat/community in Morjim, exploring educational possibilities, long visits with the children to see them in a unique cultural as well as raw natural setting. Children absorb more meaningfully through what you do rather than what you say as well as through their own firsthand experiences. Here I am better able to teach them about empathy, non violence, compassion in a hands-on way while attuning them to the natural rhythms of mother nature and giving them a strong sense of their roots. Slowing down has made us more productive; we focus on what is meaningful to us in a deeper way.

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When you are in a big city it is really dificult to focus on one thing. So many stimulations are happening at the same time around us  so it becomes a practice  to keep the focus.

There will always be distractions no matter where you are in the world. For me personally I found it more so in the city especially with raising children because the financial demands are so great and the predominantly fast paced lifestyle. Being a mother and having a yoga practice central to my way of life meant that I had to be disciplined in saying no to many things that came my way in the city but it also meant I was saying yes to spending quality time with my children and evolving a spiritual practice. My way of being with the school community was creating an edible garden in the schoolyard and volunteering weekly to stack books at the library. 

A big pull to move back home to Goa was how I wanted to raise the children and live a yogic based life. We work together at the animal sanctuary WAG - Welfare for Animals in Goa - bathing the water buffalo Angel, feeding milk to the motherless calfs, and other odd needed tasks. Asha, my daughter, actually is more immersed often helping with medical procedures. In Morjim the children walk everywhere barefoot, ride their bikes to get groceries for the house, garden, surf the morning tide and watch the star sparkled sky on our rooftop at night. They have the freedom to make their own choices in a safe environment, to learn life skills by making mistakes and learning from them without it being detrimental. In this year I have witnessed Asha and Arjuna become more self empowered, self reliant and also trusting of their inner compass. Sometimes there is no electricity and other times no water often not strong enough wifi to download anything. As a family we have become more patient and creative; we simply ARE in the moment as there is often no other choice.

So it is a building ground for their happiness...

Yes. This way of life connects and grounds them.

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The big step in everyone’s life is to become a parent. It changes it all. So the huge lesson is how to take the things we learn off the mat into our live tasks such as this.

 When you become a parent you are asked to be selfless, effortful, patient and devoted as soon as your baby is born - qualities we cultivate in spiritual practice over years. Having a yoga practice  prepares us to meet our familial responsibilities with integrity, steadfastness and kindness.  We constantly evolve and better ourselves so we can raise those we brought into the world consciously.  The challenges we face make us especially more resilient and empathetic. I was drawn to Ashtanga yoga because it was a householder practice. A path where one can bring spirituality into the dharma of everyday life.  

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Ashtanga in its simple form give an option for taking yoga out of the mat straight into our lives.

It is all one. The mat /the opportunity to practice exists in every moment.

Yoga gives the seducive option to use it as a simply physical practice it boosts ego in a massive way.

 I would just like to clarify here that ashtanga yoga is a path of eight limbs to union rather that a one dimensional physical practice. In the third limb - Asana - we use our body to enter a world within and to prepare ourselves for higher states of consciousness. It is a beginning rather than an end in and of itself; one petal of eight in a flower. Bringing our inner weaknesses to the surface is integral to the yogic path. Having the humility as well as honesty to transform them is also part of the journey. If you practice asana without cultivating the other limbs the path no longer is whole.

Virtual world is in some shape of form cutting us out of the environment, relationships that we could be engaged with. Ashtanga yoga practice gives the opportunity to stay more in touch with what really is. It is opening our path to reality.

The spiritual discipline keeps us rooted in what is our natural state. Our very own mind body and breath are the prism to experience truth.

We are constantly searching for happiness. Most of us have an empty space that we  franticly are trying to fill with something. When we are not involved with any spiritual path we are looking a bit more in a material world.

Long lasting happiness comes from being at peace and calm. What we seek is within us. It requires patience as well as effort to realize and there are no  shortcuts.

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Many times we do experience the glimpse of the interconnectiveness. It may be while looking at the ocean, after our child is born. The art is making it more tangeable.

The longer you practice the intangible slowly transmutes into the tangible; the glimpse of interconnectedness becomes all pervasive. 

It might be problematic for some of us... How to connect these dots? How to live a life and connect it with our practice?

Living in the world and having a sadhana can be difficult but we have to try. Without effort is even harder.  

Having a daily practice is a first step towards becoming more aware and compassionate. With each step we learn more and more. We make a steady effort without expectation and through trusting the process even if we do not know all the answers. It takes a long time - a lifetime or possibly lifetimes. A moment organically arises when we experience there is no separation between life and practice.

Sharmila Desai