Euthymia – Of Peace of Mind

Somehow I got on the mailing list for someone who runs one of those series of self–help courses, the first step of which is to help the presenter by buying into his philosophy, i.e., his book or online course(s). But in this case, his mailing caught my eye for his spin on the concept of “euthymia,” from Ancient Greek stoic philosophy. Seneca, in a dialog “Of Peace of Mind,” gives us an appreciation of this concept.

What you need, therefore, is, not any of those harsher remedies to which allusion has been made, not that you should in some cases check yourself, in others be angry with yourself, in others sternly reproach yourself, but that you should adopt that which comes last in the list, have confidence in yourself, and believe that you are proceeding on the right path, without being led aside by the numerous divergent tracks of wanderers which cross it in every direction, some of them circling about the right path itself. What you desire, to be undisturbed, is a great thing, nay, the greatest thing of all, and one which raises a man almost to the level of a god. The Greeks call this calm steadiness of mind euthymia, and Democritus’s treatise upon it is excellently written: I call it peace of mind: for there is no necessity for translating so exactly as to copy the words of the Greek idiom: the essential point is to mark the matter under discussion by a name which ought to have the same meaning as its Greek name, though perhaps not the same form. What we are seeking, then, is how the mind may always pursue a steady, unruffled course, may be pleased with itself, and look with pleasure upon its surroundings, and experience no interruption of this joy, but abide in a peaceful condition without being ever either elated or depressed: this will be “peace of mind.”

From: L. Annaeus Seneca, Minor Dialogs Together with the Dialog “On Clemency”; Translated by Aubrey Stewart, M.A., Late Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge, pp. 250-287



Immediately I am struck with its similarity to the yogic “virtue”of equanimity, upekśa (borrowed by Patanjali from the Buddhists). But additionally, I am struck with this advice, which is called out in the mail I received from the self help fellow.

have confidence in yourself, and believe that you are proceeding on the right path, without being led aside by the numerous divergent tracks of wanderers which cross it in every direction, some of them circling about the right path itself

So for me, euthymia will have this additional sense of belief or confidence in one’s own path. This reminds me of the advice, deduced from The Bhagavad Gita, that it is a form of violence to follow a dharma other than your own. To me this means to take the advice of others to heart, but ultimately to follow one’s own counsel. We live the truth or falsehood, and consequences of our own actions.

I don’t think this necessarily means an enjoinder to stoicism as much as peace of mind, tranquility. What couldn’t we accomplish with that confidence? How might we also engage others, with that sense of responsibility for our choices?

I’m excited by the discovery of this concept in the most unlikely of places, and I intend to meditate more upon this.

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A little peaceful warrior love

This is fun!

Wholehearted Yoga

When I reposted MC Yogi’s instagram this morning, I got props in a tweet.

I am definitely burning up my 15 minutes of fame.

It looks like he also got props from Trevor Hall, another peaceful warrior who is a favorite of mine.

But this is great because I first heard of MC Yogi from a yoga…

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A Love that Transcends Trump | On Being

If you read one thing today, please consider Omid Safi’s blog post at On Being.

[T]he spiritual must not be confined to the inward, but wash over, cleanse, and redeem the individual, the communal, and the institutional.

via A Love that Transcends Trump | On Being

Boom! He said well one of the things I have been saying all along. It reminds me of U2’s song “Get on Your Boots,” “Here’s where we gotta be / Love and community.”


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#Repost @annalouisewargo with @repostapp ・・・

A post shared by Richard Hudak (@wholeheartedyoga) on

Parker Palmer, that consummate teacher and humanitarian, in his blog at On Being, offers this treasure by Mary Oliver. I savor the word “reverence,” also, one of the nine rasas of Tantric psychology, adbhuta (अद्भुत), “wonder” or “astonishment,” I might choose “awe.”

“Mysteries, Yes”
by Mary Oliver

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

via Choosing to Marvel at Mystery | On Being

For my heart, too is with those who have reverence for mystery, whose regard of what exceeds and astonishes them to bow or kneel or take great delight. As Bruce Cockburn has sung, “Can’t tell me there is no mystery / It overflows my cup.”

You can’t tell me there is no mystery
You can’t tell me there is no mystery
It’s everywhere I turn

Moon over junk yard where the snow lies bright
Snow lies bright
Snow lies bright
Moon over junk yard where the snow lies bright
Can set my heart to burn

Stood before the shaman, I saw star-strewn space
Star-strewn space
Star-strewn space
Stood before the shaman, I saw star strewn space
Behind the eye holes in his face

Infinity always gives me vertigo
Infinity always gives me vertigo
And fills me up with grace

I was built on a Friday and you can’t fix me
You can’t fix me
You can’t fix me
I was built on a Friday and you can’t fix me
Even so I’ve done okay

So grab that last bottle full of gasoline
Grab that last bottle full of gasoline
Light a toast to yesterday

And don’t tell me there is no mystery
And don’t tell me there is no mystery
It overflows my cup

This feast of beauty can intoxicate
This feast of beauty can intoxicate
Just like the finest wine

So all you stumblers who believe love rules
Believe love rules
Believe love rules
Come all you stumblers who believe love rules
Stand up and let it shine
Stand up and let it shine

Cultivating an attitude of reverence, perhaps everything in our lives, our everyday lives, can be “Holy Now,” as in this song by Peter Mayer, which parallels my own journey of spiritual experience.

When I was a boy, each week
On Sunday, we would go to church
And pay attention to the priest
He would read the holy word
And consecrate the holy bread
And everyone would kneel and bow
Today the only difference is
Everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

When I was in Sunday school
We would learn about the time
Moses split the sea in two
Jesus made the water wine
And I remember feeling sad
That miracles don t happen still
But now I can t keep track
Cause everything s a miracle
Everything, Everything
Everything s a miracle

Wine from water is not so small
But an even better magic trick
Is that anything is here at all
So the challenging thing becomes
Not to look for miracles
But finding where there isn t one

When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I m swimming in a sea of it
It used to be a world half there
Heaven s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
Cause everything is holy now
Everything, everything
Everything is holy now

Read a questioning child s face
And say it s not a testament
That d be very hard to say
See another new morning come
And say it s not a sacrament
I tell you that it can t be done

This morning, outside I stood
And saw a little red-winged bird
Shining like a burning bush
Singing like a scripture verse
It made me want to bow my head
I remember when church let out
How things have changed since then
Everything is holy now
It used to be a world half-there
Heaven s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
Cause everything is holy now

Cultivating an attitude that “everything is holy now,” “come all you stumblers who believe love rules, stand up and let it shine.”

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Friday’s Full Moon – Guru Purnima

From the archives.

As we look forward to another Guru Purnima on Tuesday, July 19, may we look also toward what in the wake of the Anusara crisis yoga teacher Sianna Sherman called “accelerated interior learning.” I do not counsel navel–gazing, but the sort of contemplation that leads to right action.

The Considered Kula

As I begin to write, a large salmon-colored moon is rising in the southeastern sky. It is Guru Purnima.

Guru Purnima is referred to in the Indian epic, the Mahabharata and other texts as the day to worship our Guru, especially “Sat Gurus”, those who teach us about the deeper, spiritual lessons in life. It is said to the most auspicious day to be with your Guru. It was originally called Vyasa Purnima, after the sage and author Veda Vyasa, but with th passage of time has been changed to Guru Purnima.

It occurs on the Full Moon day in the Indian month of Ashada (July – August in the Gregorian calendar system). This is the day when our mind (Moon) can most easily “feel” the Guru, and greater imbibe their wisdom.

via Friday’s Full Moon – Guru Purnima and Vedic Astrology | elephant journal.

Today I played Krishna…

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“The Useless Tree” – Chuang Tzu – Inspiration Pointe

From the archives! But first, a case in point:

The Considered Kula

Last week I was making small talk with a student about another class in which I had seen her taking a test. “Social psychology. It’s very practical.” she quipped. I tried not to take this as a comment upon the subject matter I dearly love, namely, that sociology is impractical. Later, however, as the discussion revolved around exchange theory, and the possible advantage of doing someone a favor, she suggested that social psych had ready the concept of equity. They really aren’t the same because in equity theory, relationships seek balance, but in exchange theory, doing someone a favor creates an imbalance of power, which establishes reciprocity.

I don’t fault the student here, but rather, the whole context in which we operate, one in which the views and findings of sociology are undervalued, especially as impractical, particularly by psychology. It reminds me of Thomas Merton’s interpretation of Chuang Tzu’s parable…

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Yoga philosophy, race, and ‘colorblindness’ — Tantrik Studies

Chris Wallis (Hareesh) provides an insightful and challenging reflection on yoga philosophy and the Black Lives Matter movement that is worth a full read. But here for me is an especially powerful core to his reflection.

[B]efore I try to give anyone a teaching about their innermost Spirit—that within them which is unborn and undying—I had better be ready to see and accept and love the pain of their embodiment.

via Yoga philosophy, race, and ‘colorblindness’ — Tantrik Studies

I especially love its consonance with what I teach about race in Introduction to Sociology, namely that while race is a social construct, it is one with consequences.

[T]hough the reasons we might give for systemic racism are of course mental constructs that we can argue about, the pain suffered by people of color in connection with systemic racism is real, not a story, and it needs to be compassionately witnessed before it can be transcended. [emphasis in original]

I also like how the piece opens with brutal honesty about how his earlier attempts to reconcile yoga philosophy and the challenge of a personal experience of racism had caused another pain and cost him a friendship.

Lastly, he laments that the path of embodiment and awakening has in our culture been reserved for the privileged, and how this was not the original intent of these teachings, which are supposed to be open to all.

In general, Wallis’s work on illuminating Tantra, locating modern postural yoga within Tantric philosophy, and bringing esoteric traditions to modern audiences is of great service to the yoga community. This effort to grapple with a compelling issue of contemporary concern simply enhances his offerings.


When Pema Chödrön and others have begun to break silence on contemporary political issues, we see a sort of “mindfulness rising,” a movement away from what Quakers encountered within their own tradition as “quietism.” When Eastern spiritual traditions as they have taken root in the US take stands on political issues, I think we see their maturity. This hearkens also to Roshi Glassman’s Instructions to the Cook, and various writings by Thich Nhat Hahn, like Love in Action, on “engaged Buddhism”in Vietnam and elsewhere. But is this really new? As Stefanie Syman indicates in The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America, Ralph Waldo Emerson was first to introduce the Bhagavad Gita in the US, and Henry David Thoreau, whose essay on the duty of civil disobedience inspired Gandhi, King and others, may have been trying to practice yoga at Walden Pond.

In taking a nondual approach to embodiment and enlightenment, we see the fundamental unity of liberation of personality and community. This is one of the things this blog was supposed to be about. I keep promising a more systematic treatment of this, and current events keep telling me it’s high time.

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Consider Stillness on the Full Moon Solstice

Here’s a short, sweet post from my yoga teaching blog. Consider chilling out today.

Wholehearted Yoga

This morning we marked a full moon, and tonight, we’ll observe the Summer Solstice. The last time this happened was in 1967, during the “Summer of Love.”

So I do like the advice above from @mysore_sf to rest. The full moon in summer lends enough energy on its own, and the solstice does even more so. Our inclination, observing and sensing these energies, is to expend a lot ourselves. We can really go off the charts with that energy, and should balance it with more resting, cooling practices. Minimize those things that aggravate pitta doshacaffeine, alcohol, activity, and strenuous practices.

Remember that the sol–stice refers to the stillness or stillpoint of the sun.

Cate Stillman says…

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Why You NEED Self-Care – You Are Your Greatest Asset

Lately I have been doing a lot of personal and professional inquiry into mindfulness in higher education. This is not just a hobby. My return to higher education grew up entwined with my journey into yoga. They are somehow inseparable. A great deal of emotional work is required in teaching, especially in an era of scarcity, in which we prepare young people for the fairly formidable challenges left behind by preceding generations, including our own. So the possibility is great for being depleted, or worse, becoming cynical. The world’s headlines alone threaten to overwhelm, not to mention the very concrete facts of those in our care. While depletion may exhaust us and drain our efficacy, to me cynicism is so much more pernicious because it actively corrodes the souls of others. I find the following observations helpful.

I know from experience that when I am not taking care of my own mental health, when I don’t have a place to process the things I hear every day, I start to think differently myself.  I start to believe that everything in the world is as twisted as the things that I hear on a day to day basis.  There are different names for this such as vicarious traumatization or compassion fatigue.

It can be difficult to recognize when these things are happening, because it isn’t some large, life-changing, traumatic event.  It is the day to day build-up of all of the things I hear.  It is like a light, almost foggy rain, it barely gets you wet, but if you stay out in it long enough you still get soaked.  So what is there to do? How do we avoid this as a profession and as people? The answer is simple, it is called self-care.

Source: Why You NEED Self-Care – You Are Your Greatest Asset | Ethical Business in the 21st century

We need practices to maintain ourselves because in work with people, such as teaching, it is ourselves we offer. If we are focused enough on self–care in support of such service, perhaps we can offer these practices to others. Perhaps these practices, once spread, can begin to help transform the very circumstances that overwhelm us, tempting us to depletion or cynicism. I am, indeed, once again, making the argument that personal and social change are inextricably linked.

I have been meaning to write some much longer pieces developing these ideas, and perhaps thinking about self–care in this light is a way back in.

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Deceptively Simple

This morning I was seized by this deceptively simple offering.

The More You Are Motivated By Love The More Fearless & Free Your Action Will Be – Dalai Lama | Spiritual | Forward this Picture

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