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Cultivate more joy in your life with this practice led by meditation teacher and author Spring Washam.
How to Do This Practice:
1. Think about an area of your life that brings you joy, it could be anything.
2. Imagine yourself experiencing that moment of happiness. Feel the smiles, the peaces and laughters.
3. As you reflect on the moment, say to yourself, “may my joy and my happiness increase.”
4. Next, practice “sympathetic joy.” To do this, think about someone you know having a great experience.
5. As you think of them in their joy, say to them in your mind, “May your joy and happiness increase.” Or you can also say, “I’m happy for your happiness. May your happiness continue.”
6. Remember that happiness is infinite. Being joyful for others is a way to increase your joy.
Today’s Happiness Break host:
Spring Washam, is a meditation teacher based in Oakland, California. She is also the author of the forthcoming book, The Spirit of Harriet Tubman: Awakening from the Underground.
Learn more about Spring and her new book: https://www.springwasham.com/
Follow Spring on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/springwasham/
Check out Spring’s YouTube channel: https://tinyurl.com/22njyd29
More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:
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We’re living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That’s where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.
Dacher Keltner Pause for a moment if you can, and think about a time where you really felt joy. Maybe it was reuniting with a friend, a dinner party, a lazy Saturday afternoon, or achieving a milestone…Hold that thought, because today we’re going to practice feeling joy. Strengthening that feeling, and the memory of the feeling.
There are different explanations of what joy is. The American Psychological Association defines it as “a feeling of extreme gladness, delight, or exaltation of the spirit. For me, joy is the feeling of delightful experience when we are free from our mundane life and the transactional concerns of our daily living. It’s a feeling of liveness, abundance and freedom. Just as we know that focusing on the negative can over-tax our bodies and minds by increasing hormones like cortisol, we know that joy has a near-opposite effect: It can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and that makes us feel more peaceful and calm and creative. So, let’s practice joy for the next 8 minutes
Guiding our Happiness Break today is Spring Washam, a meditation teacher and author of the forthcoming book, The Spirit of Harriet Tubman: Awakening from the Underground. The book comes out in January. Now, here’s Spring Washam.
Spring Washam Hi, today I would like to share a meditation on joy and awakening joy in your everyday life. So much of our day is spent thinking on everything that doesn’t work. This is what I’ve noticed about my own mind. We tend to go toward the negative ten. Things are great. One is not. We’re focused on that one, but we have to set our practice in a We want to decide every day to think about, Hey, what in My life is going great? What are the places that work? Where do I find myself laughing? And we want to focus on that every morning as sort of a mindset.
So right now, in this very moment, I want you to think about an area of your life that brings you joy. And I know you might have to look for a long time. Maybe it’s walking your dog or it’s playing with your cat, or it’s sitting in your backyard or gardening or dance. Find the thing. There’s always one thing that’s going right, that brings us happiness, even if we don’t get to do it very often. I want you to begin to think about that. As we begin to think about this joy, I want you to feel yourself in that moment. Feel the smiles. Feel the peace. Feel the laughter. Feel the opening. Because joy as a quality, is an open state of mind. Most people who experience tremendous joy also have an open heart, right? We’re open to love. We’re open to magic, when we’re opening to joy; when we’re awakening it.
So imagine that you are there. And as you imagine it and you can come into a real meditation state here as you’re thinking, ground your body, find your breath. And for some of you it might be a couple of areas, but there may be one in particular that brings you enormous joy. And I want you to think about that moment where you’re engaged in the activity. Recollect. And as you sit and think about this, I want you to say the mantra, “May my joy and my happiness increase.” Feeling a little bit of the emotion. Notice if you feel just by reflecting, if you feel that quality in your body, that emotion, we want to become aware of that emotion, of joy, of lightness, of happiness.
And joy can be a quiet joy, doesn’t have to be exuberant or, you know, over the top. It can be a kind of quiet happiness, sort of a joyful contentment. Now, as you think about this experience or this aspect of your life, begin to say, “May my joy and my happiness increase. May my joy and my happiness flower. Grow. Blossom.” We can be joyful at any time. Even in the midst of all the turmoil around us, political and social, and people being born and people dying, there’s a dance that we can tap into here of joy.
Now I’m going to guide you in another aspect of this meditation to expand your joy. This is a word called sympathetic joy. It means having joy when others are having joy, which usually brings up the opposite in ourselves. So this is why it’s a really beautiful practice. I love it, but it’s also one of the hardest practices because it can bring up jealousy.
So I want you to think about someone who you know now in your life who’s having a great experience. So bring this person to mind, someone that you know who’s in a magical flow. And maybe they called you and said, “All these great things are happening to me. I’m so happy.” Or you see them and they look joyful and they’re just living their best life. And I want you to bring this person to mind. And as you think of them in their joy, I want you to say, “May your joy and happiness increase.” Or you can say, “I’m happy for your happiness. May your happiness continue.” And see what happens there. Does the heart get contracted? Does it feel stingy?
We often have this idea that there’s not enough joy to go around. But joy is infinite and happiness is infinite. There’s no end. It’s like the stars in the universe. There’s no end to them. So keep thinking about this person seeing them. And we say, “May your joy and your happiness continue.” Being joyful for others is a way to increase your joy. So the whole thing is an increase that awakens joy. Happy for others, happy for you, right? So we take delight, “I’m happy for my happiness and I’m happy for your happiness, too.” We choose to focus on the things in our life that is going well and we offer ourselves the meditation. And we start to include more and more people. And you see, that’s the building up of joy, right? We celebrate the goodness in ourselves and the goodness and others. Joy is a practice. And in the Buddhist tradition, it is called mudita, often the hardest practice, because it takes us to the place of our limits. It takes us to the place where we think know if you have joy, I don’t. But joy, remember, as we close this meditation, that joy, infinite. There’s enough for everybody. So may your joy and your happiness continue to grow and expand. Thank you for this meditation practice today.
Dacher Keltner That was Spring Washam, a meditation teacher and author. You can learn more about her work in our show notes wherever you’re listening right now. Thanks for joining us on this Happiness Break. I’m Dacher Keltner. Share what brought joy during this meditation by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the hashtag happiness pod. Happiness Break is a production of PRX and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.