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Three Ways to Cultivate And Revitalize Joy

Joy IS a radical act and it takes work. First and foremost, I'd like to distinguish the difference between conditional happiness and that innate or unconditional joy that resides within us all and is inexhaustible. The birthright that is your joy. And, I'd like to be cognizant that there are many moments in our lives, sometimes for very extended periods of time due to both internal and external reasons that it appears to be exhausted and no longer there. And to honor those periods with grace, love and kindness. However, I like to believe that the joy center is ever-present and it takes WORK to uncover the deep crevices of the heart.

So to distinguish, conditional happiness are all the things that we think will make us happy and they do for a short period of time and then the novelty wears out. A job promotion, sudden abundance of money, a bigger house, the gold necklace we we've been eyeing for a while, a relationship, etc. All these make us feel joy. Then with time, the joy simply dissolves into memory. In Buddhism, this type of conditioned happiness is part of what the Buddha called dukkah, or suffering. In these states of desire we suffer, especially when the desire becomes addictive and ego driven.

So, joy in fact is an act. A verb, really. It needs to be cultivated and recognized and it neither becomes disturbed nor evoked by external stimulus. The typical understanding of joy, as stated by Scott Tusa in his article Joy Is A Radical Act, says "we typically understand it is passive and reactive; it's caused by something else." Joy is active and an act. He continues to provide the principle practice to uncover joy according to his teacher by simply "allowing the feelings and emotions in the body to be, without the pressure to immediately fix an uncomfortable experience. This is a progressive method, in the sense that rather than joy being a conditioned product, we uncover it through seeing our feelings and relating to our inner habits more clearly over time. By connecting to our inner life with kindness, we slowly begin to heal."

Contentment is supreme joy (Yoga Sutras 2.42, Patanjali)

In a way, forgetting happiness and focusing on the present moment, our reality of the now is where it is all at. Here are three daily practices and habits that I like to keep up after all these years of practicing yoga and meditation. And, ultimately it has been a practice of reaching contentment with how things are even if reality isn't what I wish it to be.

  1. Be in touch with your inner landscape and reality with practices that help you cultivate present time awareness.

  2. Bring some predictability into your life with things that spark pure joy, with enough open space for spontaneity, surprise and rest.

  3. Stay connected to people and communities that nourish rather than deplete.

These three points will be fully expanded upon during our Joy is a Radical Act sessions. This Sunday's morning session will also include meditation on feeling tones and breath work for grounding. And most importantly, community building is at the core of all that happens at Pür Joy. This is of course not the way, it simply is a way. We hope to see you on February 5th.


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