Every human being seeks happiness. Everybody wants to feel joy inside. We want to smile, laugh and dance. When we are happy, colours of the trees seem brighter, sky looks vaster and you are filled with so much energy that you could scale a mountain. We wish to be happy but because we are under a veil of māyā (an illusion) we mistake fleeting happiness for eternal bliss - and this is the source of all our miseries. We create likes and dislikes, friends and enemies, attachments and desires.
Since birth, we seek attention. A child seeks toys, teenagers seek a girlfriend or a boyfriend, adults seek a successful career, a big house, a fancy car, a good family life. But this is not the road to happiness. Instead, this road will lead to frustration, depression, disappointment and unfulfillment.
True happiness comes purely by turning your attention inwards, diving deep within, getting established in the real Self. But the veil of ignorance prevents you from seeing this Self which is so close, yet seems so far. Just as a dream seems real while dreaming, this world although illusory, seems real to you. We need to wake up from the dream of life; lift this mystical veil that covers our being. How can we see if our eyes are covered? It is the mind and the intellect that is veiled. When you take a sedative, your mind is unable to think clearly, your intellect is clouded. Ignorance is like the sedative, and that is why we make constant mistakes.
When we are identified with body and mind, believing that this is who we are, it takes unwavering effort to embark on the mystical journey to the Self. How to start? Start by making a simple resolve to spend some time daily only with yourself. Sitting quietly, leaving all the troubles and worries of the day aside, and choosing a meditation practice or simply switching off the senses by closing your eyes in solitude. If the mind is too busy, thoughts are pinching you like a mad monkey, then doing pranayama and mantra japa are the right tools. The secret though, is being persistent and perseverant. Do not give up if nothing much happens at the beginning. Keep doing your practice because every day you will be cleaning a tiny spot on the dirty mirror of the mind. And a day will come when you will finally be able to see your Self in all its glorious beauty.
When you are doing mantra japa, keep bringing your attention to the mantra, do not allow your thoughts to run amok. There is absolutely no sense in repeating the mantra while thinking of the world. If needed, repeat the mantra in sync with an available recording. It will help the mind to learn to enjoy longer stretch of chanting. It is very possible for the mind to be so distracted that it might take even 45 minutes of chanting before you feel any calmness. But when this happens, sit in silence for another 10-30 minutes. Do it for two months and experience for yourself how easily you will plunge into the depth of meditation.
While doing pranayama do not rush. Follow guidance of an enlightened master with patience, starting with very simple breathing exercises. Even doing simple deep inhalation and exhalation for a few days will give you perceptible results. Then progress to alternate nostril breathing, following set instructions. Pranayama can also be done with music.
Cultivate enthusiasm; inspire yourself by reading stories about sadhana of those who became great masters. The hardships they endured under the strict tutelage of their gurus. Some of them served their master from morning till evening and did their practices at night, with very little sleep. The hunger for knowing, the longing cultivates the fire needed for the practice. Practice cleans the mind and servitude diminishes the pride, the ego. Once this is done, the highest knowledge can be received. With eradication of ignorance, one truly enjoys eternal, uninterrupted and unadulterated happiness – which is pure bliss.