Have you ever noticed a low level of anxiety constantly gnawing away inside you? Do you find yourself clenching your jaw, grinding your teeth, fidgeting, seeking meaningless distraction, anything just to handle the stress or get away from the tension you feel just being you?
Yoga calls this Dukha. It means suffering, imbalance, despair, anguish, anxiety, irritation, uncertainty and more. You get the idea.
If you feel Dukha, you are not alone. Despite the fact we have more comforts and material possessions, more freedom and more mobility than any people in modern history, Americans are awash in Dukha. As George Carlin put it, “the paradox of our time in history is we have more….” (I'll share more about this later.)
How Dukha Impacts Us On All Levels
We all know that stress can have a huge impact on how we live day-do-day. It affects our mood, our social relationships, our sleep pattern and diet, and so much more. Here is how Dukha affects us on different levels:
This arises from overtaxing our nervous systems, so that we are in a constant fight or flight response.
Think of our ancestors: they might have to run away and deal with hardships in staying alive, but they also had a lot of time to lie around and do nothing, to completely relax—moving from high level activity fight or flight to calmness and relaxation.
Our adrenals get overworked, agitated, we get tense, uptight, on the edge of fear or anger and don’t have time to relax
This comes from always REACTING to life. We have a fantasy vision of what our life should be like and how each day should go. When the reality we experience proves different from our fantasy, we often react with inappropriate sadness, anger, fear or frustration.
We are unable to accept reality and act skillfully when it challenges us. This happens in simple and big ways. Some examples are when we get stuck in traffic, or when unreal expectations of how your beloved should live their life are unmet.
When we are caught up in the physicality and psychology of Dukha, we lose contact with who we truly are, and what we want to manifest in our lives. This is known as Purusha or Atman.
The remedy to dukha is sukha, which is all about happiness, pleasure, and bliss. We need to find the sweetness in life. We need to live and love more, and we can start by loving ourselves and appreciating the little things in life.
I will end this piece and leave you with excerpts of timeless wisdom from George Carlin on the paradox of our time. Hopefully it will inspire introspection and bring about realizations on what really matters and what really makes you happy.
Wisdom from George Carlin
“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.
We have multiplied our possessions,but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life, not life to years.
We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes.
Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent. Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all, mean it.
Give time to love! AND ALWAYS REMEMBER: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”