Finding Happiness Through The Senses

Happiness Through the Senses

Our senses are always moving out into the world around us – especially in a busy place like NYC. We can get overwhelmed by the sounds, smells, sights, feeling and tastes and I find that this can lead to overstimulation and give us an unsettled feeling. I find that when I am feeling less than happy it is helpful for me to soothe the senses.

Ultimately from a yoga perspective, all that we perceive with the senses is ever changing therefore hard to stay happy all the time. The only true happiness can come from within and is actually our natural state of being – although it might not feel normal. In order to tap into our try happiness, we practice pratihara which means “sense withdrawal” to pull away from everything that draws us out and to experience the happiness and inner joy that is innate.

So in a sense, I am training my senses to calm and relax me even when out and about in the world but ultimately we sit quietly and come back in and touch the peace and harmony within that gives us a sense of happiness and calm out in life. Below are some of my favorite ways to soothe the senses in your home, in life, and at the office.

Sight

Before sitting/resting quietly for 5 minutes…

1. Itone eyedrops to soothe the eyes – www.soundshoreayurveda.com

2. Dim the lights

3. Lower the shades

4. Silk eye pillow – some have a lavender scent which also soothes the sense of smell.

5. Take a peek at your sleeping child – even at 12 years old, this fills me with joy and peace. When they are awake, it’s a whole different ballgame.

Out in life…

1. Sunglasses

2. Take the more visually gratifying route if you have time. I cut through Central Park whenever I can in a taxi and open the windows no matter what the season.

Central Park

3. Window shopping

4. I rarely wear black – earth tone shades or brighter colors in the spring and summer lift me up.

5. Netra Basti – a soothing eye treatment with herbs that is effective for tired, dry, puffy and sensitive eyes. Available at http://www.ishtayoga.com/ayurveda

6. Pretty things, clothes and jewelry.

In the office..

1. A painting that warms your heart when you see it –

2. A digital photo album – http://www.brookstone.com/sl/category/digital-photo-album

3. Replace florescent lighting if possible with lamps and install dimmers when possible

4. Keep it orderly and organized. I recommend my friend Mexx, master of organization. Phone # 845 658 7514

5. Flowers – alive or artificial but not dried

6. Seeing a friendly face, a co-worker you enjoy

Sounds

Before sitting/resting quietly for 5 minutes…

1. Soothing music classical, new age or flute

2. Silence

3. Upbeat pop

Out in life…

1.iPod with pleasing music www.apple.com/ipod/

In the office…

1. Soothing music from your computer or a small ipod dock – not too loud

2. A small desktop waterfall fountain – http://fengshui-import.com/catalog/Small-Waterfall-2351.html

Waterfall Fountain for your Desk

Smell

Before sitting/resting quietly for 5 minutes…

1. Neti pot to clear the sinuses and enhance our sense of smell www.wholefoods.com

Neti Pot, use it everyday

2. Jiva nasal drops – these cleanse sinus passageways – www.soundshoreayurveda.com

3. Candles (expensive but love I love Proletaire)

Prolétaire Candle

4. Perfume or essential oils – I love the “joy.”

5. Room spray

6. Incense match for a quick hit of scent I like the jasmine or the coconut – www.incensematch.com

7. Scented flowers or a plant

Paperwhites have a lovely, light scent

8. Vata oil

Out in life…

1. I carry essential the essential oils in my bag everywhere I go!

2. Choose a bakery or cafe with a warming/comforting smell. I like the Jivamuktea Cafe.

3. Nasya – this is a treatment that helps clear the sinuses.

In the office…

1. Often candles are not allowed so the perfume room spray or essential oil

2. Certain scents can increase productivity, calm, energize, etc. To learn the qualities of essential oils – www.ishtayoga.com/workshops

3. Flowers or a plant like a gardenia, paperwhites with lovely, light floral scents

4. Creams – I like the L’occitane lavender hand cream.

Touch

Before sitting/resting quietly for 5 minutes…

1. Cover your self with a warm blanket

2. Comfy lounge wear or robe

3. Sandbags – weight on the body is grounding and relaxing. You can recline and place the sandbags on the thighs.

4. Loofah

5. Hot bath or shower

6. Soothing bath cream or oil

7. Pet your pet – proven to reduce stress – http://stress.about.com/od/lowstresslifestyle/a/petsandstress.htm

Out in life…

1. Holding the hand of someone – everyone is at the computer all the time, touching inanimate objects. It’s nice to feel a human touch.

2. Having a coffee rather than sending a text – make contact with another person

3. Cosy, comfy fabrics like silk and cashmere

4. Get a massage or a scrub or both. A student got me a gift at Silk Day Spa and I LOVE the “Silk Eastern Indulgences”

5. Soothing steam or sauna or jacuzzi if you have access to it. You can drop in and steam at the SoHo Sanctuary for a small fee or you can combine it with a treatment. (women only – sorry guys) www.sohosanctuary.com & for coed www.russianturkishbaths.com

6. Stay warm – cover your head.

7. Manicure/pedicure with paraffin treatment

In the office…

1. Wear silk and cashmere

2. Open a window – feel the fresh air

3. Often the windows do not open, so add a humidifier to the room, so the air does not get too dry.

Taste

Before sitting/resting quietly for 5 minutes…

1. Tongue scraper cleanses the toxins from the tongue. Available at most Whole Foods

2. Herbal tea – I like to make my own by steeping some herbs in hot water and adding some agave or honey for some added happiness

3. Water infused with cucumbers or lemon/lime slices

Out in life…

1. Chocolate anywhere and everywhere – http://www.lamaisonduchocolat.us/us/en/

Chocolate!

2. I LOVE the walnut lentil pate from Angelica Kitchen in NYC. Choose foods wisely to change the way you feel. Too much heavy food can literally drag you down in body and mind.

Food from the delicious & nutritious Angelica Kitchen

3. “Food Rules” is a quick read or anything by Michael Pollan. http://michaelpollan.com/books/

In the office…

1. Chocolate here too

2. Gum

2. Mints

4. Tea/coffee break in the afternoon to lift your spirits – keep a box of your favorite in your desk if it’s not in the office pantry.

5. A lunch to look forward to – even when you need to eat at your desk.

Soothe your senses and you’ll find greater balance and happiness and… equilibrium.


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About the Author: Jean Koerner (www.jeankoerner.com) began practicing yoga in New York City in 1988, and is now a senior teacher of ISHTA (integrated sciences of hatha, tantra, and ayurveda) Yoga (http://www.ishtayoga.com/). Jean has used yoga to recover from a back injury, and avoided a second surgery in 1993 with the help of her daily yoga practice. Formerly a co-owner of Be Yoga Studios in Manhattan with her teacher Alan Finger, Jean developed and implemented a teacher training program for 2 major yoga studios in New York (Be Yoga and Yoga Works) which both gained a solid reputation among yoga teacher trainings. She is a teacher of teachers. Jean, considered a “Yoga authority” on iyoga Life, is currently director of the Workshop Program at ISHTA Yoga, teaches in NYC, and has been featured in many magazines highlighting her yoga career and in over 30 television episodes of “Yoga Zone” which were broadcast nationally and are currently available as retail dvds. Jean’s blog “Equilibrium” for Happiness Series explores ways to find balance and equipoise in life.