Finding Happiness on the Spiritual Path

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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Finding Happiness on the Spiritual Path  - A medicine wheel

Each week I write about ways to “find happiness,” and share stories of the ways I am out there in the world living dreams, and pursuing new ones. Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned in this lifetime so far, however, is that happiness ultimately really is an inside job.

Of course, it’s always important to pursue goals and dreams, because they give our lives direction and focus. They help us to wake up excited to face the day, and help us to organize our time so that we are productive and fruitful.

But true happiness really is found not just in attaining goals, and in always seeking more, but in fully living this beautiful life, moment by holy moment.

When we are truly, deeply happy and grateful to be alive, then we are not so easily swayed by events outside of us. We live our lives according to our own inner compass or guidance, and this means that whether things are “going our way” or not, we can still find our joy.

The Buddha said, “Bliss is undisturbed by gain or loss.” For me, the deep joy I have found as a seeker on the spiritual path is what sustains me.

I have experienced too many miracles personally in this life to have any doubt that there is a force greater than us orchestrating what is happening in the universe. Yet, miraculously, we are also fortunate enough to have the chance to participate in the beautiful unfolding of the universe.

I like to think of it as co-creating with the universe. And what a magical, marvelous gift this is!

Finding Happiness on the Spiritual Path - Prayer flags

Connecting with Something Bigger Than Us

Just as there are more than seven billion people on this planet, I think there are probably that many ways or more of connecting to a higher “source.” For some people, “God” is found in nature.

For some, prayer is a “hotline” to source. Some people find comfort in the guidelines and community provided by traditional religion.

Some, like myself, are drawn to Eastern religion or Buddhist traditions. I’ve been practicing meditation since 2005, and it is one of the greatest balms for my soul.

Many of my friends are devout Yoga practitioners, and it is a practice I return to on and off as well, having sampled Hatha flow, Yin Yoga, Bikram, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Vinyasa and other styles of yoga.

Whatever You Call It! 

Some might call the force greater than us “God.” Some might call it “the Universe.”

Some might just call it “love.”

Some of the most loving, kind, fun people I know consider themselves to be atheists. Their lives are essentially lived by the Golden Rule, however, and they basically practice what all religions teach: love your neighbor as yourself.

I happen to believe in something larger than us that made us, and has an organizing power that is beyond our mind’s capacity to understand. I think that is what a miracle is, really, when something occurs that is too mind-blowing for us to understand “how” it could have happened.

I think of many of the major changes and transitions in my life, when I did not know how I was going to make something happen, but was determined to see it through. The “synchronicity” and “coincidences” at that time, the beauty of how things ultimately aligned for me, once I got in motion on my dreams, still dazzles me.

Spiritual teacher, Marianne Williamson, calls a miracle “a shift in perception from fear to love.” I love Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

How I Start My Day

I’ve found that rituals that make me feel more connected to my spiritual source are the most effective way for me to start my day. I am committed to doing three sun salutations (a Yoga practice), which just takes about 5 minutes, after waking up.

Then, I meditate in the mornings, usually for 10 minutes but sometimes for up to 20 minutes if I have the time. I set the timer on my phone, and practice meditation techniques that I have learned from my various spiritual teachers over the years.

I usually start just with deep breaths, breathing in love and light, breathing out fear and anxiety. I feel my breaths expanding in my belly, rising in my chest, and just enjoy the sensation of the breath.

I practice a grounding technique next, in which I first feel the sensations in my hands and feet, and then imagine dropping an anchor from my tail bone deep into the center of the earth. I want to feel grounded in my body and present to the sensations of life, so I can feel where the wisdom of my body is guiding me.

I believe we are guided to our highest paths by opening to and following what brings us the most joy. And that is something that we feel, rather than something we just mentally decide.

Following the path of joy is what the spiritual path is all about, in my opinion. When we are happy and healthy and doing what we love, it is always a gift to the world.

Most of the people who are wildly successful became so simply by getting out there and doing what they love. Of course, it takes dedication and commitment, and nothing manifests instantly.

Living our dreams takes time. But the point is that it’s a beautiful ride when you’re out there creating something meaningful for you, and living the values that are important to you.

Being a Channel for Love

After my morning grounding rituals, I imagine myself sitting inside a golden orb of light, and/or wrapped in the wings of angels. I feel into it and see that I am protected and guided, wherever I go and whatever I do.

I envision radiating out my light, and letting negative energy bounce or slide off me, so that only positive energy is absorbed. I feel into this sense of protection and it calms me.

Finding Happiness on the Spiritual Path - Morning rituals

The final piece of my morning ritual is always to ask the universe to make me a channel for divine love in this world. I imagine a golden thread that extends from the crown of my head up towards the heavens.

I then imagine a golden, sparkling light descending from the heavens, and flowing through my body like a river of diamonds. I imagine it penetrating every cell of my body, so that all my cells are dancing with joy and energy.

This is what I what to bring into the world with me, everywhere I go. I think “being love” and “being light” is the most important gift we can give to ourselves and others.

As they say, “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.”  Our love, joy and inner peace are a gift to the world, and to all the lives we touch.


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