Sukha is a Sanskrit word often translated as “ease” or “happiness”. Its opposite is dhukha, which means “suffering” or “dis-ease”.

“kha” means “space”. It can also mean a hole, like the hole in the center of a wheel, and “su” means “good” whereas “du” means “bad”. This meaning evolved from the idea that when the hole in a chariot’s wheel was precisely centered it would produce a smooth ride, but if it was off-center, it would produce a bumpy and unpleasant ride. So it is with each of us, as the smoothness of our path in life is dependent upon the openness and centeredness of our hearts.

Matthieu Richard, a French-born Buddhist monk and the author of Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill defines sukha as:

the state of lasting well-being that manifests itself when we have freed ourselves of mental blindness and afflictive emotions. It is also the wisdom that allows us to see the world as it is, without veils or distortions. It is, finally, the joy of moving toward inner freedom and the loving-kindness that radiates toward others.

Sounds good, right? You might be saying “sign me up!”  Well, the good news is that the path of yoga is the path of sukha. If you are practicing regularly, you are already signed up! Yoga brings more and more sukha into our lives because practicing it helps us to understand the nature of suffering, including its causes and cures. The yoga tradition provides a proven path towards greater levels of well-being, towards opening and centering our hearts, towards more sukha. This path embraces the formal practices as well as yoga’s ethical precepts and a vigilant mindfulness in our daily lives.

I received a story last week that spoke to sukha or happiness as a choice and ended with these five simple rules to be happy… for achieving sukha:

1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

I love these rules. Simple yet profound. Take them for a test drive and see how they work for you. My hope is that you’ll experience more sukha and less dukha. May all beings be happy and free!