What is sukha?


Sukhasana, or easy pose, or cross-legged sitting, is one of the fundamental poses I teach in my beginner’s courses. I usually make some remark about how the title ‘easy pose’ used to piss me off because it’s not necessarily an easy pose. For me as a beginner, it was hard, uncomfortable, and eventually painful to sit cross-legged on the ground. But I think, in a way, I’ve been missing the point.

Dukha in Sanskrit can be translated as suffering, or less translatable, the unsatisfying quality of being. Sukha is its inverse, and can refer to the pleasurable quality of being, or even up to joy and bliss. When we sit in sukhasana, perhaps it’s not an easy shape or pose that we’re putting ourselves into, but in taking this basic seat for meditation or seated practice, we are signifying that we are on the path to ending our experience of suffering – we are on the path towards sukha and away from dukha.

I keep hearing my teachers say ‘suffering can end now’ and ‘enlightenment can begin now.’ In every moment we have a choice on how to proceed. Simply coming into a seat to meditate or practice asana can be a signal that we are now in this moment, as best as we can, taking ourselves off the path of suffering and facing the addictions and attachments we use to avoid it.

With that framework in mind, easy pose being hard makes total sense for me. Meditation is hard. Facing myself is hard. But it is taking me into the path of bliss. So, I’m gonna try to be a little kinder to easy pose now, because I know the pose is only where we begin.