How to Cultivate Inner Joy

Tibetan monk working on sand mandala. Close-up.

Creating a mandala is as painstaking as it is beautiful. Grain by grain, two Tibetan monks meticulously place coloured sand forming a brightly hued pattern. It is a reminder of how ephemeral the world, and everything in it is, and how we need to find our inner wellspring of joy and not be dependent on external circumstances to make us happy. 

We all long to immerse ourselves in something meaningful:

To Immerse ourselves so completely that we can dissolve into a vastness beyond our boundaries, beyond our conditions, and our little life and self. We yearn to surrender to something bigger, grander, where our petty concerns unravel, loosening of restrictive knots that bind us.

But we are caught in a cycle of trying to find happiness in ever-changing external circumstances

The truth is that we can feel momentarily happy with happy circumstances, but otherwise we are restless. We try to maintain the illusion that the happiness that happy circumstances provide is enough for us, even though we know it is ephemeral, passing, and contingent on external circumstances. But we also know or feel that there is something boundaryless, infinite and open echoing in that “circumstantial” happiness that is beyond it.
The challenge is that we grow accustomed to, and might even be attached to, outer comments, attention, affection, accolades and even things that sometimes seem to make us happy but more often hinder us. Ironically, the things that compromise our heart are the things that we find so hard to let go.

How can we live in a way that does not let external circumstances determine our state of mind and heart?

How can we transform the habits of the mind and heart that hinder us from taking a step forward into our vulnerability and towards the infinite boundarylessness that is closer to us than we are to ourselves?
We need to enter our vulnerability in order to let go of the claustrophobic, limited sense of self that hinders us. We need to lovingly acknowledge our defensiveness, protective stance, attachment, withdrawal or armouring every time they arise. The moment we do, we immediately merge with the essence of this moment, and the meaning we seek.

We are attached to te outer things that we think make us happy, and defend them. But just beyond that which we defend lies our treasure, that which holds our unique flavour of what is most meaningful to us.

Cultivating Inner Joy: e-Training Exercise

1. This week, notice your opportunities for transforming the dependence on external circumstances by making note of when:
  • You hold your breath
  • You feel your body stiffen
  • Your thoughts become defensive or offensive
  • You want or feel you need something from someone else
  • Your words or emotions harden or crumble
  • Judgment or the fear of judgment arise
  • You compare yourself to someone else
  • You admonish yourself
  • You judge or criticize yourself
2. Take a moment to feel into the flavour of that moment.

Describe what you think you are defending, judging, criticizing or comparing. What attribute is behind that? Intelligence? Compassion? Power? Position? Safety? Love? Acceptance? Feel into what those particular circumstances symbolize for you, what they represent. That flavour or essence holds the secret of what is most meaningful to you.

We need to befriend that which is negative: not over analyze or dig away at it, but just be aware of it, curious about it, explore its flavour and name it to allow your soul to reveal the true meaningfulness that it holds for you. Hand it over to your soul, acknowledging the potential for transformation and allowing for the potential it represents. Rather than struggling with these inner circumstances, let them go, setting the intent to immerse yourself in something bigger and grander that holds true meaning for you.

3. Once you have named it, surrender it to your soul. You are surrendering your concerns with yourself to something bigger and grander, where meaning resides.
4. Every night before you go to sleep, focus on the well at the root of your soul: the wellspring  of your soul and your Inner Joy. It can now flow freely into your life. 

Imagine that nourishing stream of belonging, ease, peace and delight, and imagine the refreshing waters of that gradually flowing up through the arid earth of the neglected side of your heart. During the night you will be in a constant process and state of refreshment, enrichment and belonging. It will bring a quiet happiness to your spirit and allow the light of inner joy to shine on your life. 

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What our Students Tell Us

I enjoyed the first unit and learned a lot about my body and how it works. I enjoyed learning new concepts about focusing on my heart, not my mind, and the intelligence of the 3 parts of the spine. The theory of compassion made me think differently about my place in the world. Providing the science behind the learning is the icing on the cake. Looking forward to what's to come. Amy Benicewicz

About Judyann McNamara, DHOM, N.D., DHP

Originally a physicist and biomedical researcher (biophysics), Judyann has had a clinical practice for over 25 years, has held conferences since 1984 and has been a teacher of courses in physics, science, health, holism and spirituality since 1975. She is a Homeopath with classical unicist training, a Naturopath, and the founder of MICH. Do you want to embark on a journey of the soul that will help yourself and others? Learn more about how to study with us.

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