In this article, I will outline some time-honoured methods, accompanied by illumining quotes from Sri Chinmoy, author of The Jewels of Happiness.
Joy … The very word makes one think of blossoming springtime with its bright sunny days full of hope and promise.
And indeed, this what true joy feels like inside the heart. Even if the outer weather is dark and gloomy, when you experience true joy, the inner weather feels like eternal springtime. This joy is not dependent on outer circumstances; on whether you won the lottery or landed your dream job, but rather it is a spontaneous feeling, an inexplicable inner thrill.
But how can one achieve this feeling of true joy, retain this joy once achieved, and use this joy to help us in our everyday lives?
“True inner joy is self-created.
It does not depend on outer circumstances.
A river is flowing in and through you
Carrying the message of joy.
This divine joy is the sole purpose of life.”1
One of the most powerful ways to experience joy is through meditation. In fact it is one of my favorite by-products of meditation. One does not need to run off to a cave or an ashram to spend hours and hours in silence in order to experience joy. As a beginner, even 15-20 minutes once or twice a day can produce positive results. I believe that God rewards even small efforts if you are sincerely seeking to get in touch with a deeper part of yourself, which is connected to the Divine. Just the simple act of trying to silence your mind (even if you are not quite successful) can be of tremendous benefit.
Many people who attempt to meditate make the mistake of analyzing their meditation with their mind. They believe that if they were not able to shut off their mind completely, then they were not successful, but this is a mistake. They should not judge a meditation with their mind, but by their joy; how the meditation made them feel.
Many times when I sit down to meditate, all of my worldly cares are swirling around in my head and the meditation seems difficult. It seems like I was hardly able to still my mind at all, yet when I am finished I am filled with joy and energy, and my mind has a completely new outlook on my so-called worldly problems. Nothing has outwardly changed, yet my entire being is surcharged with joy, which makes my outer problems seems manageable.
Try using meditation as a powerful tool to create more joy in your life. There is nothing to lose, but much to gain.
Remaining in the Present Moment
“Because I am a truth-seeker,
The future flows towards me.
Because I am a God-lover,
I live in the Eternal Now.”2
Recently I started out having a rather happy Saturday. It was cool and crisp, and although it was mid-March and spring should have been on the horizon, we still had mountains of snow. This did not deter my joy, however, as I felt that winter’s back was breaking and in a few short weeks the snow would be gone, and all would be right with the world.
I sipped my latte, turned on my computer and checked the weather, as is often part of my daily routine. I scrolled down and clicked on my city. Immediately, my heart sank at what I read; a snowstorm was headed our way and was due to drop 20 or more centimeters of snow on the city before it blew east. In an instant, all of my joy at the prospect of spring was gone, and it was replaced with frustration, fear and despair.
“Oh no!” I thought. “I can’t possibly shovel out 20 more cm of snow! My car will get stuck and I won’t be able to get out of my driveway, then how will I be able to get to work and do the errands that I promised to do, and what if my back goes out from all of that shoveling, and, and, and…”
I sat for a few moments and listened to my fear-laden internal monologue. Then I realized that I had allowed my mind to go from joy to despair in a matter of 30 seconds – and not even one flake of snow had fallen yet!
How many times have we all done this; taken a perceived problem and made it infinitely worse by prognosticating into the future and creating a scenario that does not yet even exist?
“Fear, what is it? … What does it do? It buys our coffin,
long before we are destined to die.”3
There is incredible power in staying with your joy and remaining in the present moment. It does take effort, but with practice it becomes easier.
As it turned out, the blizzard that was predicted blew south of us and never materialized. I gave away my joy to a self-created negative thought.
This was a powerful lesson.
Let the future flow toward you, but stay firmly rooted in the present, and have faith that you will be given what is necessary both inwardly and outwardly to deal with whatever might come your way. In this faith, in this eternal presence of now, is your joy.
Spreading Joy to Others
“My heart shares joys
To enjoy joy
To the fullest.”4
One of the true beauties of joy is that it cannot be contained. Its very nature is to spread, like wildflowers in spring.
Often after a good meditation when I am experiencing the energy of joy, I feel like a jack-in-the-box toy; like I’ve been wound up and I’m ready to jump out and shout surprise to a shower of sparkly glitter and brandishing a beautiful bouquet of flowers to share with all.
This is the very nature of joy, to spread, and it is wonderfully contagious.
I am reminded of a story of a woman and her friends who were travelling in some less than hospitable parts of the world.
The group found themselves stuck at a border crossing being held for no apparent reason by some rather intimidating border guards. Language was a barrier, so they sat at this border crossing at a complete impasse, not being allowed in or out. The woman was a part-time clown in her hometown, and she often brought some of her clowning supplies with her to entertain local children.
She reached into her bag and pulled out a long blue balloon and began to blow it up. She then began to twist the balloon in various different ways, and soon it was quite clear that the balloon had taken the shape of a cute little dog. This piqued the interest of the guards and they became fascinated by this transformation, so she offered the balloon dog to one of the guards. He smiled at his new treasure as he showed it off to his friends. They began to smile and pass the dog around, and then they gestured to the woman that they would also like one. She set about making more balloon animals and soon all of the guards were laughing and playing like children and were interacting joyfully with the group that they were detaining without speaking a word.
Soon the guards were stamping their passports and let the group go through the crossing and on to their next destination without any further delay.
Through innocent childlike joy, fear was replaced by trust, and a very delicate situation was diffused.
“Be like a child,
Act like a child.
Go from one flower to another
In your heart-garden,
Until you find complete joy
And perfect satisfaction.”5
When you meditate in the morning you receive joy. A little goes a long way, and somehow it always comes back to you in new and inspiring ways.
Think about how many ways that you might share that joy with others throughout the day.