James Baraz loves teaching about awakening joy, sharing the practices that helped him in his own life. Our suffering is not just individual, often it is collective – mass shootings, racism, poverty, war. Whatever the causes of suffering, turning the heart towards joy can help create causes for happiness. Here’s James in an excerpt from his book, Awakening Joy:
Awakening Joy is based on a key principle: our joy and happiness is up to us. Our suffering or well-being is not solely determined by what’s happening in our present circumstance but to a large degree by our relationship to what is happening.
This series will not create joy for you. Joy is already here inside you. It is inherent in every one of us, an innate capacity, like the ability to learn a language or to love. The feeling of well-being in calling joy comes in many different flavors. And it can look very different from person to person, from a quiet sense of contentment to bubbly enthusiasm.
For some people it’s an energetic radiance; for others it’s a quiet feeling of connection. Joy can arise as a belly laugh, or as a serenely contented smile that accepts life just as it is. We experience a profound joy when we let ourselves be touched by beauty and nature. We feel an energetic lightness when we let ourselves be silly and playful.
Acting with generosity or compassion uplifts our heart, as does the feeling that comes from living with integrity. We delight in seeing others happy, and we can be moved when we behold goodness and truth. We each have our own unique ways of experiencing and expressing joy. One of your discoveries as you experience this course will be the many flavors of joy you can find in yourself.
James Baraz is a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center. James has been leading the online course Awakening Joy since 2003. His books include Awakening Joy with Shoshana Alexander and Awakening Joy for Kids with Michele Lilyanna. You can also join Lisa Kring, LCSW, for a 4-week series starting July 5 based on James’ renowned Awakening Joy class: Awakening Joy: Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Real Happiness.