Shadows & Light - Part 1: Meditate on the light


Happiness, peacefulness and resiliency are ways to describe our light.

So, how can you increase your own light?  You need to, basically, “hack” your brain.

Did you know that your brain is hardwired towards a negativity bias? 

According to the acclaimed neuropsychologist, Dr. Rick Hansen in his book Hardwiring Happiness, we are programmed to take in the “bad” and ignore the “good”.  He says, bad experiences are like velcro and good experiences are like teflon.

Another interesting insight Dr. Hansen offers is that, “On average, about a third of a person’s strengths are innate, while the other two-thirds are developed over time. You get them by growing them”.

To turn towards the light takes great strength, commitment and persistence. 

I am always dumbfounded why this is.

Our brains, due to evolutionary needs, are engineered to see the darkness. This puts us at a disadvantage from day one.

How can you hack your brain and create more positive circuitry?

To overcome this “stone age” default your brain is set on, it takes work.

After reading Dr. Hansen’s book, I turned up the dial on my moment-to-moment practice, by continually policing where my attention was. As much as possible, I bring my attention towards the light— experiences, projects, people, images and objects that make me smile. This does not happen quickly. I have to sit with it, for five to ten seconds, and “feel” it in the body, let my cells absorb it, and finally, let my brain’s neurons fire and re-wire.  

This is the ancient wisdom of the yoga sutras being explained in modern day language. For the yoga geeks, like me, who are familiar with “samtosha”, a niyama from the famous Ashtanga or eight-limbed path, it is clearly written that by bringing attention to the positive you will experience the “highest joy possible”.  

The positive is "devotion in motion" and it’s returns are exponential.

As Ram Das once said, “All I can do for you… is work on me…and all you can do for me is work on you.”  

We are all in this together. So, celebrate what’s going well, the small wins, a scene from nature, your pet, a child, a cherished memory... and hack your brain towards the light.

Pick up a copy of Dr. Rick Hansen’s book: Hardwiring Happiness. This book does a brilliant job of explaining how your brain has the ability to change throughout your life, and how you can literally create a more positive circuitry, or as I talk about it in my classes, “light”. You can also check out his Ted talk here.

A Yoga Unplugged collaboration - written by Jennifer Reuter, edited by Sarah Burchard