The importance of joy, gratitude & inner abundance…
A reflection on practice by Kristina Baré
The year 2023 has been difficult for many of us; illness, climate change, political tension and war, have been at the forefront of our minds for many months.
We need to call upon the heart qualities of loving-kindness, compassion and equanimity to help us face this harsh reality. Yet, what is equally important in challenging times, is the factor of mudita, the factor of joy.
Mudita is translated into English as “sympathetic joy,” “empathetic joy” or “altruistic joy.” It is the reverberation of an open heart when in contact with the well being, happiness and good fortune, of other beings.
By celebrating the happiness of beings, we invite our hearts into a place of “enoughness.” We move from an orientation of scarcity, to an orientation of abundance. In celebrating someone else’s good fortune, there is the potential of deeply nourishing ourselves as well. When we find a way to surrender to the experience of abundance in mudita, the source of joy (mine or yours) is no longer so relevant. We are simply nourished by the fact that there are moments of joy in this world, just as there are moments of sorrow.
The inner dimension of mudita is gratitude. With gratitude we remember the big and small things to celebrate in our own lives; the food on the table, a kind friend, the sunlight on our face, the experience of breathing in the here-and-now. The “objects” of our gratitude is less important than the act of remembering the possibility of gratitude. Again we practice lifting our hearts into a state of greater abundance.
The practice of joy is not to deny the challenge of this world. Rather, including joy is needed to keep our hearts balanced. With balance we open to the whole spectrum of this human life more fully, including all that is difficult and all that is beautiful.
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