Life can be full of joy every moment if you look at everything through eyes of joy, listen to everything with ears tuned to joy, smell, touch and taste everything with senses filled with joy. It is your joy that transforms everything you commune with into a thing of beauty. It is your light that illuminates everything just as the Light of the Source illuminates you.
The energy of joy. Joy is the antidote for stress. When we are filled with joy, our cells produce immense energy. According to ancient Indian wisdom, joy is a fundamental quality of life. It is ananda, it is light expressed as a feeling — a luminous sensation. Often, our rishis would be so beautifully aligned in their vibrations with the Source, they would be in a trance, united with the Source of Joy. And people around them felt it as an enormous pool of peace, something magnetic and hugely soothing.
Unhealthy cynicism. What keeps us disconnected from our natural fount of joy are toxic emotions and attitudes — anger, fear, helplessness, depression, sorrow, anxiety, despair, disbelief in anything that does not conform with our personal beliefs and disbelief, if not tempered, hardens into cynicism.
I know three people who live in a continual state of cynicism. All three are on strong medication — one for the nerves, the second for the heart, the third is on anti-depressants — to help them lead a normal life. It is distressing because they are good people, but their goodness is often obscured because it is mixed up with cynical disbelief. Thus, at times, they come across as bitter, manipulative and inflexible respectively.
Suspend judgment and be comfortable in not having or offering an opinion. The mind is calm, emotions are still like a lake without ripples. As the days go by, there’s quiet evenness of a new inner balance in mind and body. And you can actually move from task to task in one unending flow. You can go smoothly from writing to doing accounts to playing a quick round of basketball to cooking, back to writing…. You don’t even switch mental gears, your concentration remains unbroken, your attention is seamless. This flow experience happens when there’s no emotion — no twitch of irritation or rage, resentment or self-pitying martyrdom — to put brakes on it. When you go through this experience, you understand how beautiful and cool a mind is without emotions. What remains is only awareness. Thoughts still come but they are of a higher quality. And if they are not, you can ignore them and they go away.
Light your lamp. How do you attain this seamless flow of attention as you move from task to task, from work to play, from play to work…? By a change of attitude. How? Realise that something in you has chosen every activity regardless of whether you like it or not. Realise that at a deeper level you need to do these varied activities and that is why you have chosen them. Also, know that each activity is meant to bring light into darkness. You may not like your job… Please like it. It puts food on your table. You may not like cooking… Please like it. It nourishes you and your family. Everything we do brings light into darkness. Be grateful you can light your lamp and banish the darkness. Gratitude brings a sweet orderliness, a friction-free evenness in your temperament. This evenness is soft yet stable and can be maintained even when ‘disturbances’ occur. Somebody calls. The doorbell rings. Everything that happens is okay because it is meant to happen…something in you makes it happen… . You don’t have to have the answers to all these happenings because even these interruptions have their place in the great, big, beautiful mystery of life.
When I had this shift in perception after I changed my attitude, initially, I felt a bit disoriented. It was not unpleasant, it’s just that I’d never felt like this before. And as I got used to it, I discovered a greater peace, it’s a the-world-doesn’t-own-me-anymore feeling. There’s a lot of space when resistive emotions are absent. You listen to others talk and complain and chatter about the events in their lives. You understand because you’ve been there. You feel love for them spilling out of you.
Care for yourself. The wonderful thing is: to connect to one’s natural joy, one doesn’t have to be extraordinarily intelligent, wealthy, good-looking, ambitious or ‘perfect’, you just have to care for yourself. Caring is a mental impulse. When it’s a mental instinct, it is only about surviving. When it’s a mental impulse, it’s about staying well, about finding one’s way back to the vibrations of joy that pulsate so subtly, so softly through every body-cell. When we do not care, when something in us wants to hold on to anger and self-pity, our negative impulse disrupts the normal vibrations. When we care, joy flows smoothly in and around our being.
It is important to keep the caring centre within us alive. I exercise because I care. I eat healthy because I care. Meditation relaxes the mind completely, extends its awareness and lifts it out of the indifference, depression or cynicism it may have fallen into. The extended awareness helps us construct healing practices, seek cures, find all kinds of positive ways to solace. As Dr Blair Justice puts it: “The caring centre that connects us with our life force is the guardian of our inner health…”
Caring gives us the courage and vigour to change our life. As Alfiere wrote, “Often the test of courage is not to die but to live.” Courage takes a different route for different people. Some learn the difficult task of saying “No” and risking another’s displeasure. Some dare to stop making money and start spending a part of it to give happiness to those around them. Many people bravely put aside their hurt or anger or both and step out of their cocoon to forgive. Ultimately, caring is a beautiful approach that says softly so as not to be intrusive, “I’m here to free you from suffering.” It’s a great place to start from.
The writers are authors of Fitness for Life and Simply Spiritual – You Are Naturally Divine and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme.