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Namah Journal

Inner approach to health

Being happy

James Anderson


True happiness can be a matter of internal organisation and embarking on the path of yoga facilitates this process. During this passage, one soon discovers that surface concerns can no longer make one happy. A deeper, richer happiness gradually emerges but the transition is often very difficult. The author recounts some experiences.

“None can reach heaven who has not passed through hell (1).”


Many wise men have stated that happiness does not depend on circumstance. Being happy is truly a natural state, there are no pretexts, one is simply that. Looking for reasons to be happy is simple ignorance as those very reasons can quickly be snatched away. Circumstances will always change. Therefore if one lives in the surface consciousness, it stands to reason that surface considerations will dictate one’s state of happiness. The decision to embark on the path of yoga and growth aims at a new level of happiness, a fixed state that transcends all circumstances. So the aim of this article is to examine the criteria for happiness during the passage of personal growth.

It might be truly said that the depth and level of our happiness depends on our level of consciousness, but I don’t believe the matter is quite as straightforward as that. When embarking on the path of yoga, we often find ourselves bombarded with happenings which are extremely adverse. The very turning might provoke an opposing reaction. There are tests thrown at us by a mixture of forces, some hostile, intending to turn us backwards.  

On the positive side, there are also lessons that need to be absorbed for our own good and growth. Time and again, I might feel myself being crushed when a simple expansive opening will open all the doors to all happiness. The lessons will not stop until they are fully absorbed. One also finds one’s faith is frequently put under examination. At the initial stages at least, one night feel oneself tossed between divisive dualities. There is little consistency. I found the mood swings become more pronounced and the slightest irritation often had a way of puncturing any elation I was previously storing inside.

Dark periods  

It is also not uncommon to pass through phases of greyness or depression. These dark periods may even be longer and more extreme than previously experienced; they can almost become habitual. It helps to look upon these periods as just part of a process because the direction of one’s consciousness has started to change direction and shift inside. Because of this, gradually any movement that makes us unhappy, both from inside and out, is brought more into the orbit of our vision and light. The consciousness gives us more insight making our nature more transparent, whereas previously these movements were smothered by surface concerns. Now, one is forced to face the realities behind one’s psychological make-up.  It is only the Consciousness (I call this the hand of the Mother) that can transform these false movements and restore the necessary harmony inside. 

These transitions, though necessary, can be intensely uncomfortable. One finds more and more of these twisted patterns gradually coming to the surface. It is the emerging knowledge and the process of yoga which produces this effect. If one is awake and attentive to the change a happy equilibrium will always be maintained. When one consciously collaborates with the process, there is an inner alchemy where wrong movements turn into right, leaving an imprint of peace and delight. The knowledge of what is happening (and why) brings a joy and induces the hand of the spirit into all proceedings. But once the process of catharsis has begun it continues non-stop and when our consciousness slides back to the surface, which it will inevitably do, we lose our connection with our true centre and there is a strong feeling of unease. At times like these I may not feel happy but I am unable to put a finger on the reason. Sometimes I might feel myself shrinking but I don’t know why. Something is gnawing inside. I may be irritable and my demeanour might be narrow and negative.  This is because the Force is always working although I myself might not. 

Our psychology is saturated with associations and imprints from the past. These memories lie buried deep within us but they affect our emotional well-being without us realising it. When one works with the consciousness inside, eventually all these patterns will rise to the surface. It is the Force which does this. These influences will try to hide away unnoticed but if one keeps a steady gaze they have no alternative but to turn and join with the Light.

Aligning inside  

That is my deepest aspiration. So I set aside a time periodically to align myself inside.  I quieten the mind and internally call for help. As I withdraw my consciousness from the surface, I invoke the Presence from deep within the heart and move my attention downwards through the body to find the cause of the disturbance. I probe as deeply as I can and just observe inside.  

As this work unfolds, there is usually one area of the body which calls for more attention than any other. As I follow this signal with a steady gaze, I enquire inside at that point. I may, for instance, feel drawn by the abdomen. There might be an ache and a sense of heaviness. The energy in that area may be stagnant or blocked. I look disinterestedly at this state and simply ask it what is happening. Sometimes the knot unravels immediately; at other times a clear communication or insight may come more late. Eventually the disturbance will clear but if there is a delay, it might be a sign of the mind interfering. I just have to be patient, observe and wait for the Force to start flowing again. 

The release comes when I am handed the key which unlocks the blockage inside. It is a solution from the very truth of my being. I don’t find it; it is given to me. At times a word might pass my lips: it is a facet of the Truth.  

Quite often, when this part of the body opens, others will follow. I now realise that everything inside is interrelated and very often when the darkest area is cleared it allows other doors to open inside. The other cankers may lose their sustenance and become lighter too. Their power diminishes but I still may have to work through these areas in detail one by one. Each time, the knowledge of what is there has a way of resolving the problem immediately. As they clear, the Force flows more and more down the body and a settled peace soon arrives. I then find a state of happiness embedded into the being. 

Our true centre 

True happiness is a consequence of internal organisation; it is a matter of self-alignment. When all the parts of the being are connected to our true centre, the soul, a delightful harmony ensues. One feels psychologically aligned; there is no room for wrong movements. It harmonises the body with the rest of the nature; the whole being becomes infused with joy. 

If one wants to be the master of circumstances, one has to learn to master every movement inside first. I don’t believe that there is any other way. It is an assiduous and painstaking task. It is true work in detail, which is why I find this challenge so richly rewarding. Somehow a way has to be found to review the whole being without losing sight of its details. Clearly the mind cannot achieve this. It can only process and absorb in fragments. If one is able to connect with one’s true centre, even to a small degree, a vaster clarity emerges. Only the soul has the ability to view everything as a whole and yet assimilate the multiplicity of every detail. 

When one feels connected and then looks upon the whole as opposed to fragments, a sense of oneness gradually emerges. There is nothing more harmonious than a single nature but we easily get accustomed to living behind our usual façade. It is a façade comprised of many discordant parts. But this oneness is the foundation to true happiness. I believe that regular practice can achieve this result. But one needs to be always watchful.  

However, I don’t find it easy to align myself when I am interacting with the outside world. Unexpected disruptions can always still occur. Malevolent formations can intrude; we live surrounded by a whirlpool of different forces.

Another way 

I find it helps to supplement the work in another way. One advantage here is that the practice can be easily integrated into day-to-day life. When I remember to do it, it keeps me uplifted and buoyant. I find it very helpful whenever I feel myself contracting. The secret is not to allow oneself to get caught in the webs and hidden agendas of the outside world.  

If I feel anything pressing onto my being, I try to meet that invasion with light and love. Whenever I feel a negative vibration trying to settle or find myself in an adverse atmosphere, I call upon my heart and summon as much love and light as I can muster and channel it down to my stomach.  I then push it out through the abdomen and send it out to wherever the harmful formation came from. I do this with the breath: inhaling the light and love down to my stomach and exhaling it into the atmosphere. It is a process that I can apply when confronted by any difficulty.  When a dark period intrudes, it brings more light but in fact I find it fruitful to practice when there is no difficulty at all. Somehow too it expands my consciousness. It aligns my being around the strongest part of my nature and that for me is a very happy state. It helps me expand and feel free.  It releases me from the narrow contours of the mind. But remembrance is the key. Whenever I slide onto the surface I might forget and then lose sight of those negativities that are queuing up outside. If I am faced by a major problem, I might get so transfixed by it that all remembrance is lost. So it is clearly a process I would benefit from doing all the time.


To be present in time and space brings happiness. There is a vastness in the eternal present which gives such a feeling of bliss and felicity. Freed from the chains of the past and doleful premonitions of the future, one can smoothly find one’s truest station.  Ironically, I find the best way of accessing this state is through the body, something I sometimes conceive as the source of all my woes. If ever I separate from the body there may be a feeling of initial release but it only creates a vacuum for harmful habits and especially pain to intervene. Pain so often acts as a signal for me to return to the body. I find that happiness can only come when all our nature is aligned to the true consciousness. That is the nature of wholeness. 

Although the body can be a source of considerable difficulty, it is truly my psychological salvation. This is because as soon as my consciousness fully aligns itself to the body, I can then reach out to a realisation of the now. It is like the body is my anchor in my relationship with space and time. Automatically, when one makes this shift, one feels liberated from the grooves of the past and the anxieties of the future. Sometimes I need to embolden myself to make this turn as most of the negative formations that I face concern the body. But when I do it this is what invariably happens.  

The biggest barrier I face to being happy is the workings of the mind. In a given instance, I might feel strong and full of energy. I may be calm and balanced but a trigger, usually a repeated pattern, comes and provokes the mind into violent reaction. The reaction is entirely one of habit.  This pattern will only repeat itself in different guises until its lesson has been fully absorbed.  The whole being shrinks as the mind, instead of allowing the heart to open to change, recoils in anguish at the prospect of imminent disaster. The ensuing mental processing becomes endless. I then find myself travelling in very narrow lines. Once one gives oneself to the Divine the result is sure but the mind insists on proofs. Because of this, I find it has the inability to trust in the inevitable good that comes out of all change. So if I notice the mind trying to take charge, once again I try to remember to stop, breathe and pour out the light and the love from the heart to the stomach and push it back.


Sometimes I might notice a thick shell around me. It is a defence from the outside world. It is the ego’s way of deadening harmful impacts from outside. The problem is, it deadens me inside too. This leaves little room for spontaneity and only creates a state of compression and constriction. All constriction eventually brings pain. I am beginning to realise tangibly what the Mother meant by saying that the ego lies at the root of all pain. In my case, this is far more than psychological pain, it manifests immediately on the physical. It is such a lesson in growth. 

Eventually the only way to transcend unhappiness is to transcend the ego itself. When ‘working’ on our growth we are doing just that. In the past, happiness had been inconceivable without the ego. This state had even been defined by the ego. Now it becomes a ‘bar’ 1. The transition can be a dark, lonely passage. However, the only way to live in happiness is to live in our Truth. Simply by repeating these words ‘I am living my truth’ points to me the way. We have to drop everything that prevents us from achieving this. The reality is, the ego only pursues happiness through circumstances. It searches for props and reasons. Most of all, the ego can only scour the surface.  

One can always drop the image one portrays to the outside world and try to become more transparent. That can sometimes make me feel very raw. But when I realise that this is the only way to be truly happy, the shell starts to disintegrate and life becomes a great deal less complicated. No longer craving for self-importance and reputation, I no longer feel burdened by an image and can start to nourish my very soul. 

Sunlit path 

There is a happiness one can gain from walking this path of growth; there is a joy in all progress attained. I believe that much of our disposition can be determined by poise. We always have a choice. There are two ways forward, one cheerful and straight, the other a “hard, a hampered, roundabout and difficult journey (3)”:   

“There is a sunlit path as well as a gloomy one and it is the better of the two — a path in which one goes forward in absolute reliance on the Mother, fearing nothing, sorrowing over nothing. Aspiration is needed but there can be a sunlit aspiration full of light and faith and confidence and joy. If difficulty comes, even that can be faced with a smile (4).” 

Difficulties will always be present but our reaction to them can be so different. It takes a trust to look upon difficulties as just passing clouds but that is the essence of this path. That is one reason why, in the Integral Yoga, self-surrender and a complete reliance on the Divine Mother is the essential way forward. I believe this poise can be nurtured and cultivated. Surrender for me is a yardstick to happiness and surrender I have experienced as a gradual process. That is obviously why results have hitherto been mixed. However, as one grows and as the soul steps forward, there is a growing realisation that everything that comes to us is for the best. Initially, considerable effort is required in the turning but eventually a sense of reliance emerges where one is able to simply rest in Her hands. In a real way, we do nothing: She does it all for us. But letting go is the hard part. 

Gradually I have discovered that it is this great work alone, work that They have passed onto us, that truly matters. It is a peerless privilege to be a part of it. In the Mother’s words, “The Divine Consciousness is the only true help, the only true happiness (5).” The further one moves forward, the greater one realises this simple fact. Nothing else seems enough any longer. This is the key to true happiness. 


1. Sri Aurobindo. Birth Centenary Library, Volume 28. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1970, p. 227.

2. Sri Aurobindo. SABCL, Volume 16. 1971, p. 377.

3. Sri Aurobindo. SABCL, Volume 24, 1970, p. 1362.

4. Ibid., pp. 1358-9.

5. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 14. 2nd ed. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 2004, p.11.

1 “When we have passed beyond individualising, then we shall be real Persons. Ego was the helper; Ego is the bar (2)”. 

James Anderson is a member of SAIIIHR and coordinating editor of NAMAH.

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Dark periods


Deepest aspiration




The body


Sunlit path


The Mother