Monday, February 1, 2010

Did You Find Joy? Did you bring Joy?

I began my yoga class this cold winter morning by asking my students - do you feel joy in your life? Do you give joy to others?

Ancient Egyptians believed two questions determined whether or not they would be allowed to proceed on to the afterlife:

Did you find joy?
Did you bring joy?

I read this a few years ago and was very moved by the questions, because it made me reflect on my own life. Years later I noticed a reference to these very questions in the movie "The Bucket List" with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson - two men dying of cancer who go on a journey of truly living their dreams and re-discovering joy in the final months of their lives.

But the truth is, we do not have to wait for a death sentence to experience joy. We can begin - right here - right now. We can begin to experience, embody, and reflect joy in this very moment.

All Anusara Yoga students are taught and know that there are two reasons for practicing yoga:

1. Self knowledge - "chit" - for our awakening, and
2. Ananda - for bliss - for the sheer delight and joy of it!

While personal practice is important - I enjoy yoga most when it is shared in community. Last Friday, the Willow Street Yoga community came together for a candlelight practice that was a benefit for Haiti and the earthquake victims. It was both an inspirational time and joyful occasion for those present, even if the event that gave rise to it was not.

The Buddha taught that each one of us is given 10,000 sorrows, and 10,000 joys. We cannot connect with and access those joys if we do not first connect with our hearts.

So today, give intent to find joy and embody joy - so that you can share that joy with others!

To help you do this, take a moment to do this exercise:

Close your eyes - and focus on your heart. Visualize a beautiful green light that nurtures and bathes your heart in pure love. Take a deep breath in - and as you exhale - say "YUMMMMM" in one long syllable.

Feel the sound vibration in your body and notice the energy flowing effortlessly from the base of your spine to your heart, inviting the currents of joy to bathe you. Can you feel the joy within your heart? And can you share it? And can you make your little corner of the world a better place today? Of course you can!

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