I’m a word guy. I’ve always loved learning new ones, and about how they came to be– their etymology. One favorite among many is the word euphoria. The prefix eu is Greek for “pleasant” or “well.” Phoria in Greek means “bearing.” Thus the earliest users of this word used it meaning “able to bear up well.” When it became a clinical term in psychology, it acquired its more grandiose, semi-manic connotation.
What does any of this have to do with yoga or meditation, you ask?
Both practices are associated with alpha brain wave production, causing a state in which we are thoroughly relaxed, yet focused and alert. Twenty minutes of mindfulness or mantra meditation after performing a yoga routine can put you in a perfectly balanced state, mind body and spirit. One in which thoughts flow freely, and muscles in which we habitually hold our stress over long periods are blessedly relaxed. You’re definitely much more likely “to bear up well” experiencing this state than if you go without it.
But while exhilarations and joys are readily available from a great many natural and healthy sources, too many of us often deny ourselves the right to experience them. Vague feelings of regret and grief for missed opportunities may erect a barrier against joy. Of course, a certain amount of remorse is necessary and useful, especially when we’ve harmed someone. The only human beings completely unable to feel the emotion (or any empathy at all) we call sociopaths and psychopaths. But carrying a load of guilt and regret on your shoulders for years or even decades can be emotionally and physically crippling.
Go ahead, feel that euphoria! If you choose not to, you’re throwing your life away piecemeal; I submit that that’s probably a worse transgression than anything you may be feeling heavy-laden about. Your practice will improve, your mind will be clear and bright, and you’ll be able to drink deeply of the full cup of joy that life offers.