Our last Yogi Reads was the sublime ‘Real Love’ by Sharon Salzberg, which looked at the many avenues that we have for connection with one another. So often, she points out, and we often see in our own lives, that we skew toward the negative and the comparative, even in our most treasured connections. We don’t expect things to last, so we hold back. We want what is best for someone, and revel in their slips and/or falls. We spend these holiday times celebrating loved ones, while picking this time of joy to compare and contract our loved ones to an ideal, or to one another.
The heart, like any muscle, can be exercised and strengthened, and this goes beyond purely it’s ability to pump blood, and be the generator of the circulatory system. Our ability to cultivate gratitude and to swing ourselves toward the positive takes practice and patience and awareness. Noticing when we are moving towards something that is not joyful, or does not bring us connection can be a very powerful start.
In a section devoted towards gratitude and generosity, Salzberg introduces a Buddhist concept of sympathetic joy, the happiness that we find and feel for someone else’s joy. Being able to truly connect to someone else’s good fortune take a great deal of surrender of our own holdings, our own fears, our own desires. At times these sorts of celebrations can even be triggering to those of us who have worked hard, or craved something that a loved one or close friend is getting. Stepping outside of ourselves to embrace their joy wholeheartedly takes courage and generosity. In doing so, we strengthen that connection, we also build our own ability to find gratitude and joy all around us.
From ‘Real Love’ Sharon Salzberg offers us an exercise in sympathetic joy:
The meditation is similar to our Lovingkindness Meditation (also from Salzberg). This meditation starts with “May your happiness and good fortune increase further.” or something to that effect. Other ideas to try are: “I am grateful for your success.” “May your joy spread to others.”
This section ends with this line, “ The more we practice sympathetic joy, the more we come to realize that the happiness we share with others is inseparable from our own happiness.”
May we find the time to share in the joys of others and be grateful for the chance to connect with others in these special times/moments.
Our next Yogi Reads will be January 27th from 1:30-3:00 and we will be reading Judgement Detox by Gabrielle Bernstein. Join us if you are in need of a surrendering space 🙂