Nourishing Joy. This can sound somewhat self-indulgent, but instead I believe it to be self-sustaining. It is important to take time to reflect on joy, what it means, how it comes forward in life, and how it feels in our bodies. By joy, I am referring to the feeling of lightness and happiness within. Perhaps the deepest joy that we might explore is the one of being at home in ourselves. Without recognition of joy, life can feel dull, and our attention more fixated to the things that are not going well for us. Instead, joy helps us to feel resilient over time, balancing the heaviness of life with a vital lightness.
Joy can be personal. Perhaps I feel light when I am in nature, when I have the opportunity to paint, write or be in a loving relationship. Joy can arise for many reasons. A skillful inquiry is to reflect on whether our joy feels wholesome; that it does not arise out of disregard for or diminishment of others or the environment.
We can also open to a joy that arises without cause; one that is innate to us, and an expression of our essence. It can become available just by virtue of meeting life as it is, without agenda. This might be at odds with what we believe, that life must go our way for joy to be available. However, I invite to explore what emerges when you meet life as it is. Is there a background of ease that becomes known? This joy is less personal, and more subtle, but it exudes a warmth nonetheless. This flavor of joy might feel closer to stable peacefulness or equanimity.
This week in classes we will explore making fresh commitment to include joy in our lives. In my experience, a key component is to have periods of time to slow down during my day. In time, the inclusion of joy can enable a fresh and skillful way of meeting life that is less burdened by history or conditioning. While I share these thoughts and explorations, know that I am equally on the path with you, making mistakes along the way and feeling the joy of being aligned when it arises.
This week some of the questions we will consider might be:
- How does joy resonate in your body? How does it arise as sensations? You can bring forward imagery or a memory that evokes the feeling of joy for you now to explore.
- Where and how do I experience wholesome joy in my life?
- If you broke down your life into a few broad categories: home, professional work, relationships, etc. – what does it mean to feel light in any one or more of these areas?
- How can you include the time and space for joy in your day?
- What is your felt experience of joy when you are deeply at rest, perhaps in those moments where one task has completed and the other has not yet begun? Does this joy depend upon circumstance? Or is it always here? What enables you to orient to this feeling of joy?
“Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”