Daily Archives: January 20, 2012

Joy Jam

What were the 3-5 things that gave you joy this week?

1. My dogs. The very first time I did a Joy Jam post, I listed “these three boys” in reference to Eric, Dexter and Sam. I could put the three of them on every Joy Jam, gratitude, Something Good, favorites, things I couldn’t live with out list I ever make. But this week, I think because I’ve been doing the Small Stones posts and have been more attentive to everything, and I spend so much time with them, I have really been noticing how much I adore my dogs. Every single day they bring me joy.

2. Laughing with Eric. It wouldn’t do any good to explain the exact moments, because sometimes there are things that are only funny to you, and won’t make sense to anyone else.

3. Missing Obi. Any of you who have lost someone close to you know that grief can sneak up on you at the oddest times. The wind blows or a door slams or you see something out of the corner of your eye and turn to look, and suddenly you are right there, in the exact moment you lost them, as if it is happening again, right now in this moment. I was in my meditation room the other night, and I caught a glimpse of a picture frame I have on the shelf there–it’s one of those kits that you can make a hand or paw print on one side and put a picture in the other. I made this one of Dexter and Obi’s paw prints, the day before Obi died, and put in one of my favorite pictures of them.

I know it seems strange to mention this in a list of things that brought me joy this week, but the depth of loss and grief I feel for Obi is a reminder, a joyful one, of the capacity for love and connection.

4. Ease and Freedom. These are two things I don’t feel very often, but when I do, I appreciate them so much. This week, there were several times that I felt one or the other, or even both at the same time. Writing on Monday (I made four blog posts that day, and felt ease as I did so), walking the dogs in the snow on Tuesday morning, watching two owls with a student I’d just met (both of us standing so quiet and still, paying attention and wholly in the moment, appreciating the magic), sitting on my meditation cushion last night, practicing yoga this morning, and walking the dogs this afternoon (home early from work on a Friday, a windy but beautiful day).

5. Relax. I have talked many times about Susan Piver and her Open Heart Project. If you sign up to be on the mailing list, a few times a week she sends videos and a written message. One video is typically a discussion of some issue related to meditation (life), important teachings for free. I am continually amazed by her brilliance and generosity. In one of her most recent videos (I apologize for not remembering exactly which one), she talked about how Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche said (she was paraphrasing) that the more he studies, the more he thinks the entire path, the whole dharma, the truth and the teaching and the way could be summed up in a single word: Relax.

This makes me so happy. I’ve heard him say similar things before, so it wasn’t the first time I’d heard the idea, but when Susan reminded me, I felt what I always do: relief, and then joy. It really could be that easy. Something in me says “yes” every time I contemplate the idea. If you relax, you find freedom, space, ease–everything is workable. Seriously, I’ve been trying to disprove this idea with multiple scenarios, but I can’t think of a single situation where things wouldn’t be better simply by relaxing into reality, accepting what is as it is.

  • Where did you find joy this week?

Small Stone: Day 20

Small Stone: Untitled

A splash of paint on the floor, half way between my meditation cushion and shrine. Paint spilled and smeared by some previous tenant, it looks like a spirit, a floor fairy, a gray alien bird.

As I meditate, my eyes lightly touch it, allowing it to be seen, to enter into my awareness, but not attaching to or focusing on it. Shamata meditation is done eyes open, with a soft gaze, giving the environment its place in experience, rather than denying it.

The instruction is that just like you can’t ask your eyes not to see, as it is what they do, their natural state of being, you can’t ask your mind not to think. However, you also don’t have to get carried away, hooked by thoughts, and just because they come and invite you to follow doesn’t mean you must. You notice, gently acknowledge them as they arise, peacefully abide, and let them go as they dissolve. They fly away like birds, float off like clouds in the sky, are no more real than this paint creature on my floor.