Questioning Positivity

Feb 7th, 2018

Because the World is in such need of humanity and compassion, the “New Age” movement including mindfulness, energy, channeling, yoga, chakras, and positivity is growing at an exponential rate. As a yoga and meditation teacher, I dedicate my life to expanding this movement. But, like any movement that grows rapidly, there is a real danger of losing the original meaning of these teachings as they pass from person to person and from post to post. Without examining eyes, ideas lose substance over time and potentially life-changing practices are whittled down to near meaningless catchphrases.

One of the oldest buzz phrases associated with the New Age movement is, “stay positive.” When enacted correctly, the practice of staying positive can be transformational. But, the actual phrases “stay positive; be positive; always look on the brightside,” rarely help anybody because the phrases don’t in anyway tell you HOW to actually stay positive. When you lose your job and you have family to take care of, “looking on the brightside,” is a flimsy remedy to this serious situation. Because these phrases have lost meaning, people avoid using these affirmations because they have no real value. So where is the value in staying positive?

Staying “positive” isn’t avoiding your painful realities or challenging situations by only focusing on what remains. Staying positive is a PRACTICE of staying connected to your inner resilience, capacity to forgive, and ability to ask for help. Staying positive is a lot of work! And, the majority of people miss the life changing benefits of this practice because it is work. But, people will learn soon that there has never been and never will be a quick fix to their life challenges.

The work that goes into staying positive takes commitment. For example, in order to connect to your inner resilience, you have to seek out activities that not only relax you, but empower you. You have to search out ways to learn about harnessing your inner resilience (books, podcasts, spiritual blogs, professional counseling). Similarly, in order to find your capacity to forgive, you have to have the courage to confront possibly deep rooted emotional wounds and anger that are stopping your from letting go. This also takes a commitment to find regular times of honest self reflection through contemplative time, reading, professional counseling, etc. Lastly, while asking for help takes the least amount of physical effort, it often takes the most amount of emotional courage because we all want to appear self-sufficient. We hate inconveniencing others. To ask for help, we first have to process the reasons why we feel guilt and shame for admitting that we are human, imperfect, and need help often.

“Staying positive” is much more work than the mug sitting on your co-workers desk implies. But, the concept is necessary to sow happiness in your life and healing in our divisive world. So, is all the effort to stay positive worth it? That’s something only you can decide. I can only tell you that it is for me and that I’ve seen it radically transform other people’s lives. Maintaining connection to your inner resilience, capacity to forgive, and ability to ask for help during challenging times is not easy. It requires effort and vulnerability. But, I can honestly say that I am the much happier than most people I meet in my world travels. And, as a fellow human who cares for you, I dedicate my life so you can one day experience the same happiness.

Author Bio: Darren Bartolo is a yoga – trained spiritual guide, musician and founder of the Human Noise Reduction world yoga studio. From a very young age, he began to relentlessly study and practice ancient and modern spiritual teachings and healing modalities. He received his musical training via six years at university and conservatory. After graduation, he was called to serve as a teacher and found himself developing a music program for one of Chicago’s top performing inner-city high schools where he worked with at risk teenagers for six years. He was initiated into his journey as a yoga teacher on the banks of the Ganges River in India after receiving his yoga teacher training from expert teachers from the Bihar Yoga School and Sivananda lineages. His spiritual adventures have developed his intuitive abilities which he employs to translate often ambiguous spiritual teachings into modern day perspectives and transcendental musical journeys.

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