One of my best friends from high school and I recently reconnected. We touch base every few years. “I just finished my third book,” he said, “and this is the one I like the most.”
“That’s fantastic!,” I gushed, aware that in reality, my happiness for him was actually about 80%. The 80% was thrilled for him. He’s brilliant and his book looks amazing. The 20% was all about me, struggling over the outline for my first book.
Sympathetic joy is all about your capacity to experience joy for yourself as well as joy for others. Like all of these practices, they are challenging and cathartic.
I once co-created a weeklong retreat at Kripalu Center called “The Art of Joyful Living.” It was all about getting centered through yoga and meditation, exploring creative expression through writing, movement, improv and dance. We were shocked when the participants arrived. Many were seriously burned out. Some were deeply depressed. Many felt no joy whatsoever.
Our program design changed dramatically as we spent time examining that which lies between us and joy and how to work with these issues. Identifying the obstacles to joy, bring non-judging awareness and compassion to that process, can open all kinds of doors.
An unrestricted heart effortlessly opens to kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. When you consciously explore any of these states, you may notice quite a few impediments to the actual experience.
Joy is felt through the senses as well as being an inner state not dependent on externals.
When the mind is quiet, seeking nothing, that transcendent state of joy can spontaneously arise.