Bhav

Bhav, or Bhaaaaav means just like how it sounds, a delicious yogic mood.  It’s the quality of living in a divine state. We often think of our mood as something we have little control over. Like the weather, we are subject to the things around us, what happens to us, how much sleep we get, hormonal fluctuations and well, yes, the weather itself.

I remember when I first moved to the city, I think I always surprised the local deli workers with my positive excited mood. They looked at me like I was anomaly simply because I was smiling as I ordered my sandwich. I can only imagine what they were thinking: ‘Something good must have happened to her today.’ In truth, I was actually riding on the wave of excitement at having moved to the city the upbeat pace, the opportunity and creativity abound, were all feeding my mood. Even on a day when I had a lot going on, the overtone was excited positive, happy.

I’ve noticed over the years that my experience of these outward forces has turned from a positive embrace to a stressed out resistance. The description “upbeat pace” now gets described as “chaotic madness”, and “opportunity” now gets described as “responsibility.”  And so on. It’s natural that things change over time, but what I’ve noticed is that no matter what the external circumstances are, or my general state of finances, or stress level, my mood, is actually always entirely up to me.  

I’ll catch myself now, deep in thought and focus as I walk down the street, and I pause, take a breath, lift my head and find that smile that accompanied my first few years here.  It’s part of my yoga practice to let the bhav sneak into every moment of my life. Yes, even when doing the most annoying mundane tasks, or fighting my way through the biggest challenges. The practice of Bhav helps me immediately shift from dark to light, any time, in any circumstance. Just knowing that it’s a choice and that my mood can actually be unrelated to what’s going on in the world around me.

Bhav in the strictly spiritual sense is an uplifted spirit, by being divinely connected to God. What I love about this definition is that no matter what your definition of God is, it’s always there.  Perhaps this is a bigger topic to later explore, but I think the practice of affixing your mood to your relationship with an idea like God, is that it’s a fixed point. One that cannot change. Neither job, nor other persons, nor weather can change your relationship with something that is all loving, all light. I find this extremely dependable, even though I don’t consider myself a super “God” oriented person. There are moments (especially the hardest moments) when thinking on this idea is the one thing that can pull up upward.

But if God isn’t your thing Wikipedia has a whole list of other Bhav’s that may suit your fancy:

·       śāntabhāva, the calm, peaceful, gentle or saintly attitude

·       dāsyabhāva, the attitude of devotion

·       sakhyabhāva, the attitude of a friend

·       vātsalyabhāva, the attitude of a mother towards her child

·       madhurabhāva (or kantabhava), the attitude of a woman in love

·       tanmayabhava, the attitude that the Lord is present everywhere

 

All of these “bhav’s” or “attitudes” as they are described here, are in the line of developing a beautiful inner compass so that the winds of change can’t sway you from a positive mood.

In the deep yoga wisdom traditions problems which would in our western world contribute to our bad mood, are actually seen as great opportunity for learning and spiritual growth. In the same way that adding more weight to dumbells would help develop your arm muscles better, a problem was just another resistance against which you had the opportunity to build your uplifted spirit and resilience.

My meditation teacher Joan Suval, once described a great guru in the following way. When his students asked him “Guruji, how are you?” He would answer: “I’m sooo great! I have so many problems!”  His mood was divorced from his “weight load.” He didn’t let his problems bring him down, instead, he viewed them as just as much of a blessing, as any victory he had.

So this month, practice flexing your mood muscle. Let a sweetness creep into scratchy moments. Let a joy creep into flat moments. Practice remembering that this is actually your life here and now. If this was your last 5 minutes would you want that scowl on your face? Or a pleasant serene smile? When you give this to yourself, you’ll see the world around you start to respond with a reflection of your Bhav. Your sweet, spiritually uplifted mood.