What is bringing me joy right now?
I'm sat in a small town in the North coast of Wales called Criccieth. I found a small Christian community centre 'the nest' on the high street. There are teenagers hanging out in the room, hearing their conversations is joyful, entertaining. The silence when they leave is also joyful. Walking today along the rocky cliffs and sandy coasts. In the stormy winds, everything feels magical. Fluffy dogs, Hana and Chloe who I am living in a moving community with. Sofas, Cups of tea, the generosity of people we meet (being offered multiple places to stay, food, showers, songs). Receiving so many blessings in the night. Having completed my Awakening Joy Training, but still holding myself accountable to finish the blog posts, i like the sense of duty and comittment.
“The great open secret of gratitude is that it is not dependent on external circumstance. It’s like a setting or channel that we can switch to at any moment, no matter what’s going on around us”- Joanna Macy
Gratitude is a practice, its a cultivation, and a mind inclination. When we look for blessings in our lives, it is possible to find them and often its possible in even the most challenging times.
If I'm having a bad day, or week, or month, and i choose to create a small amount of space to look for blessings, for things i feel grateful for, it always seems possible. It's definitely not always easy to carve this space out when i'm not feeling great or my mind is contracted, and sometimes its the last thing i want to do, but its possible, and it feels good to know that.
Practising gratitude is like training a muscle, the more we cultivate gratitude, the more we notice blessings, the more gratitude will arise. And when we practice, if we settle into the bodily feelings that come with gratitude, notice them, let them percolate, we get familiar with those too, and they become easier to access.
Think of something, someone you feel grateful for..... what happens in your body?
Below is a drawing of what happened in my body when i thought about someone i felt grateful for.
PRACTISING WITH GRATITUDE
Three Gratitudes - By CarRie Newcomer
Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day.
Sunlight, and blueberries,
Good dogs and wool socks,
A fine rain,
A good friend,
Fresh basil and wild phlox,
My father’s good health,
My daughter’s new job,
The song that always makes me cry,
Always at the same part,
No matter how many times I hear it.
Decent coffee at the airport,
And your quiet breathing,
The stories you told me,
The frost patterns on the windows,
English horns and banjos,
Wood Thrush and June bugs,
The smooth glassy calm of the morning pond,
An old coat,
A new poem,
My library card,
And that my car keeps running
Despite all the miles.
And after three things,
More often than not,
I get on a roll and I just keep on going,
I keep naming and listing,
Until I lie grinning,
Blankets pulled up to my chin,
Awash with wonder
At the sweetness of it all.
Gratitude as a movement away from Capitalism
I was reading part of the chapter on gratitude: "What gets in the way of gratitude?" I had a few responses; capitalism was one of them and felt like an important one. In the AJ book - the responses to this question involve words like:
"Rushing around, fatigue, goal, achievement, productively, to do's."
One person said:
"There just doesnt seem to be enough time to smell the roses."
Those of us who live in capitalist societies are trained to keep going, our productivity is the most important thing, and is how we are accepted (or not) by society, so it makes sense that our goals, to-do lists and lack of time mean we don't/can't/won't stop to smell the roses. We are often taught we don't have enough and to be unhappy with what we do have, we learn to be ungrateful. If practising gratitude and cultivating Joy are supporting us to find fulfilment in our lives, then i believe they are anticapitalist movements.
1. Go back through the third AJ training call and write up notes.
2. Type up notes in my book from the fourth theme: Joy in difficult times, do some drawings for that post.
Being warm and dry, being able to question my life and what I am doing and whether i want to do it, the people in my life who are deeply spiritual, being around them and seeing how this feeds my spirituality, feeling confident in my work, churches, creativity, singing and making up songs, mushrooms and sheep and funny conversations, cars, Buddhism.
What is Bringing me Joy right now?
Thinking about Lucia and Louis dancing. Being in a nice warm house with some really great house-mates. Feeling quite chilled compared to how I felt this morning, listening to Frank Ocean, thinking about squirrels, a delicious tibetan lunch with my friends, kindness.
I have written some reflections on mindfulness, what’s written in the AJ book is ok, but doesn’t quite work for me and slightly misses some things i have learnt that feel important to emphasise.
Mindfulness is a set of practices, e.g sensing the body, breathing, contemplating death, looking at phenomena in terms of pleasant/unpleasant/neutral (Vedana).
Practices that we can do over and over again, that lead to particular insights and freedoms.
The word ‘Sati’ that is often translated as mindfulness in the west. It’s root meaning is something more like to remember/re-collect/contemplate.
When we spend time contemplating the body, the breath etc, we simplify our experience, we investigate, we make more space to choose, especially choices that allow more joy into our lives.
Mindfulness allows us to integrate the experiences we have into our lives, rather than being pushed and pulled around, we can start to respond to life wisely.
The “Don’t miss it” practise is a good example of integration, allowing experiences to permeate into our being. We also begin to integrate things when they are difficult and challenging, and we can find more freedom in those times.
As we practice we also start to observe impermanence, that things come and change and go, we learn to enjoy things when they are present, and when difficult things arise, we can be more at ease with them knowing that they will fade.
The more we practice contemplating and recollecting this practises, the more ‘mindful’ we will become in everyday moments. Mindfulness becomes a frequent visitor.
Mindfulness offers a way for us to slow down and investigate our experiences with care and wise attention. We become interested in what is happening and the impact it is having on us. In this potent pause we can ask: “Is how I am thinking and feeling contributing to suffering or to freedom?” - Ruth King
I love the concept of uni-tasking from the AJ book. I have been practising this the last few weeks, just doing one thing at a time, and actually enjoying it, or at least finding something enjoyable in it.
Orienting Towards Pleasure
I have just started reading adrienne maree browns pleasure activism.
Before the book came out I was experimenting with orienting myself towards pleasure.
In everything I do, what can i find in it that is pleasurable?
Live pleasure streaming ::::: Right now I am rushing and typing because that is a habit I have built being on computrers. If i take a second to tune into what’s pleasurable about my experience, I can feel a heavy grounding tingling in my legs, I decide to adjust my posture so I am comfortable and my shoulders more relaxed, I slow down just a little and listen to the tapping of the keyboard, i breathe a little more. My body feels softer.
Quickly I get caught up again in rushing, but the more I practice orienting towards pleasure, the more I will find myself there.
Intention: The first session we ran
The first session went well, we have had good feedback from the group, it is a lovely group, mostly close friends so it feels like a safe space to practice. It’s been nice having more conversations about joy with people when I have seen them.
Lesson plan and structure below
How is the training going?
I’m finding it a bit hard to keep up - I have had a lot going on these past few weeks, but i am managing, it works better for me to stay up to date than to let things run over, this means focusing some time every week to keep up to date i think.
I am also creating more work for myself by doing these blog posts, but it’s something I really want to do, it helps my learning so much pulling strands together and creating something.
Second call with James
Working with the self that can arise in a leadership position - identifying with the role.
This is an opportunity to practice anatta (no-self) trying ways of looking like - the dharma is coming through me.
Let wisdom come from the group! Collective wisdom. Ssking great questions so people access their own wisdom, reflecting back to people what you hear them say, give them time.
Tune into the wise part of them, look for what is wise in them - see them in that way and speak to that part of them and they will feel seen.
Intention: keep going back to this! Keep bringing it in
This is a place for me to collect and show explorations, observations and creations. Doing this helps me to reflect and remember all of the amazing things is have been a part of. Some of this work is very personal, some purely observational, some practical things i don't want to forget.