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Awakening Joy


Online Happiness Course

I have discovered a wonderful “happiness course” that is available online. The course is called “Awakening Joy” and it is offered both online (for anyone, anytime) and on-site (for folks living in San Francisco). The course is taught by James Baraz, a mediation instructor and founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California.

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A Lesson in Zen: Such


In college I took a course on Zen Buddhism. I really loved it because it taught me to think of things from a different perspective.

One of the lessons that struck a chord in me was a meditation on “Such.� In a nutshell, the meditation calls upon you think of things as just “such,� simply for what they are and not relative to anything else. This is difficult to do because everything we experience is given meaning or definition by its function or by its relative proximity to other things.

For instance, if I show you a picture of a chair and ask you what it is you’ll probably say “a chair.� But if I place a knife, fork, plate, and some food on it then it becomes a table. And if I stand on it to change a lightbulb, it becomes a step ladder.

Another way that we experience the relative perception of things is as “good� or “bad.� Things are perceived as good when seen in contrast to bad things and vice versa. Here’s an example. Let’s say you are running late for the airport and you miss your plane. That’s bad right? Good = getting on the plane and not losing time and money. What if you later find out that the plane you were supposed to be on crashed? Now how do you feel about missing the plane? That’s good right?

The lesson I wish to leave you with today is to not fear or run from “the bad,� the uncomfortable, the frightening, the dirty, the smelly, from hunger, sadness, pain and so on. By experiencing these things this is how we come to know the good, the comfortable, the beautiful, the delicious, peace, luxury, love, happiness, and more.

For today, try to see “the bad� as just “such.� And know that by encountering “the bad� in life, you will come to know and, more importantly, appreciate “the good� in life. Also, ask yourself how you can reframe your “bad� experiences so that you perceive them, instead, as good. Ask yourself, what did I learn from this? What should I learn from this? Where is the good in this? Sometimes when bad things happen in our life, it is a gift that shines a light on what is really important and good in our life. Really feel and experience the good in your life today.

Life is challenging. Life is beautiful. Life is such.

Peace to you.

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Loving Kindness

I was just recently sick with a stomach virus. Not the worst I ever had, but still awful enough. My mother came and stayed with me. I felt so sick and vulnerable, so I was so grateful for her presence.We live in the same house and you know what they say about 2 cooks and 1 kitchen. It is true.

We argue more than I like and more than I should.

I feel like being sick was intended to send me a message that life is too short to fight. I need to let go of my anger, aggressiveness. I need to let go of my irritability. It is a choice.

Instead of anger, I should take deep breaths, take a break when tired, walk away from heated or aggravating situations, and then try to cultivate loving kindness in my heart toward my mother…or anyone for that matter. (don’t we all experience difficulties at work, in the supermarket, with spouses, friends, children, and on and on?)

I need to find compassion for the person who brought me into this world and who taught me so well and loved me so well. I need to have compassion for this person who has her own weaknesses and vulnerabilities just like me.

When I fight with her I see her as strong over me. But really she is probably tired like me. She has disappointments, sadness, loneliness, and sickness at times too. I need to give up judging her and find compassion for her like I would for a small child. We’re all still children underneath.

Giving up judging will free me from the chronic irritability inside of me. I know this is easy to say now, but I am making a commitment to this.

The reading that inspired me towards this is Pema Chodron’s audiobook called “Getting Unstuck.� You can check it out on Amazon here: Getting Unstuck: Breaking Your Habitual Patterns & Encountering Naked Reality

I’ll keep you posted on the results of my commitment. I hope that you may find some revelation in this too that may help you.

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