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Experiencing Joy

Posted February 1, 2014

Welcome to our new weekly blog series! Each month we will feature one of our amazing Bread and Yoga teachers sharing their thoughts or teachings from their class with you and our community! Today’s post below is our final post from Joseph Glaser. Check back every Saturday for a new post. Next week will start our month featuring Rian Bodner.

Namaste Yogis!!

Inside the science of Yoga we have a smaller complete science called the Purusarthas. They teach that if you take Dharma, Artha, and Kama and add them together then you get Moksha.

Got it? Good! See you next week 😉

For most of us who have no idea what that means lets break it down.

Dharma can be translated in different ways. I like to think of it as what you are here to do in this life big and small. Your personal path of spiritual evolution. Sometimes it looks spiritual, like your daily Yoga practice, sometimes it doesn’t look spiritual at all like going to see a great movie with friends.

Artha is the material needs and pursuits you need to fulfill your Dharma. In our example, a place to practice or a car to get you to the movie theater. Maybe some popcorn too 😉

Kama means joy.

If you add these three together then you get Moksha or spiritual liberation.

The reason I love this science so much is because joy is part of the process. It is an integral ingredient on our spiritual path rather than the destination.

Let’s talk a little bit about the nature of Joy. If you have been reading the Bread and Yoga blog for the last couple weeks then you will know about my recent reading and love for Dr. Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. Much of this exploration on joy comes from her work.

The inherit difference between happiness and joy is that happiness is a human emotion dependent on external circumstance. This is what we discussed in last weeks blog as living our lives backwards. When I make more money then I will be happy. Joy, on the other hand, is a conscious choice and practice cultivated over time.

Two pieces are required in the practice of joy. First, we need faith. Not faith in terms of denomination or religion, but faith that ultimately everything is alright — that life is inherently good. Whether that is because of a higher power or not is irrelevant. What helps us strengthen our faith is gratitude. Even when we are having a bad day if we can take a moment to become conscious of what we are grateful for then it helps us strengthen our faith. We see that our experience is a result of our perspective. When we shift our perspective with gratitude we feel that everything is alright. Whenever I have a bad day at work it helps tremendously to remind myself of everything else in my life that I treasure. It helps me see the bigger picture. We can practice gratitude right when we wake up or right before we go to sleep. Wherever we are we can make a list of all that is good in our lives and get back to experiencing joy.

Joy is part of the process. It is an integral ingredient on our spiritual path rather than the destination.

Anne Robertson explains that the opposite of joy is not sadness but fear. Fear that we are not enough, fear that we are not worthy, fear that everything is not alright. This is why faith and gratitude are integral to this practice.

There are also two main inhibitors to our experience of joy. The first is reserving joy for extraordinary moments. We associate joy with scoring a touchdown to win the game, the day we get married, the birth of our children. Of course joy is a part of these moments, however, joy also lives in the ordinary moments. This links back to our gratitude practice. When we are conscious of the blessings in our lives, big and small, a sentiment of joy is experienced. If we were to sit down and list our idea of a joyful day we would have a lot of ordinary moments on that list: taking a great Yoga class, spending time with people we love, laughing, or a great meal.

When we realize this we stop waiting for an extraordinary moment and make joy part of the present.

The other main inhibitor is what Dr. Brown calls our fear of the dark. Two experiences we don’t like to have are pain and vulnerability. In an effort to move away from these we can stifle our own joy. Brown says, “ I’m not going to allow myself to feel this joy because I know it won’t last.

Acknowledging how grateful I am is an invitation for disaster.” We let the fear stop us from fully savoring our joyous moments.The truth is that we can’t have one without the other. Joy and vulnerability are part of the path. We can try to numb them or fully experience both, but we can’t get rid of pain and only experience joy. Dr. Brown writes, “The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” When we get comfortable with vulnerability then we can fully experience joy.

Because Joy is a practice, it will come and go. The more we practice, though, the more often we will feel connected to this beautiful experience. Isn’t it good to know that the power to feel joy is in our hands at all times?

Merry joy making,

Joseph Glaser

P.S. This will be my last blog for Bread and Yoga for awhile. Thanks for reading! Make sure to check back in next week for a new teachers offerings. If you would like to hear more of this make sure and come take a class. I give talks like this every time. I teach Mondays at 9-10:30 and Noon-1 and Tuesdays at 6-7:30. Also, I am teaching a Hathavidya workshop on February 9th called Advancing your Practice. We delve into more advanced asana, learn how to make our practices more consistent, and how to see more profound change in our daily lives using the techniques of Hatha Yoga. Hope to see you soon!

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