I opened up my monthly Chopra Center email to find an article called Infinite Delight and Bliss. Next to the title was a picture of a branch covered with snow. I thought, immediately, I wouldn't pair the image of snow with joy! Followed by the thought, there's a lesson here. With winter so close upon us, I need to be able to seek joy in what I like least about winter: cold and snow. I imagine, had I chosen the picture for the article, I would have gone in the opposite direction: warmth, beach, ocean. The Chopra Center is located in California. Are you starting to grasp this interesting twist? They did not pick the image closest to them; they picked the opposite. I would have chosen the "opposite" of Chicago weather. Maybe we both have something interesting to look at!
Either way, I can only work with me and my lesson and am happy to have a head's up that I need to find joy in snow before it comes. To do that, I will have to turn within. I will have to turn within to forge some type of connection for myself that when I see snow, I feel joy.
The article differentiates between happiness and joy.
The Chopra Center writes, "Happiness... is based primarily on circumstances. When we perceive the circumstances in our lives as favorable, then we are more likely to be happy." The list of things that make us happy in infinite. Think of some of the items on your list right now.
Chopra center continues, "What all these things have in common is that they are all external, all circumstantial, and all transitory... this does not make these things or their pursuit bad in any way...They are true blessings and deserve gratitude. But external things are often hard to control, circumstances inevitably change over time, and transitory things come to an end sooner or later.
Therefore, the happiness that comes from these things is bound to change as well."
So, how does the word joy differ and can we have both?
Chopra writes, "If happiness is derived mainly from outer things, then joy is found in the opposite direction. Joy originates from within. Whereas happiness might be considered a state of circumstances, joy is a state of being."
Joy is our true nature. Just as we have chanted in our heads (in a previous class theme), abundance is my divine right, so is joy.
"As we grow spiritually, we begin to come into greater contact with this inherent joy that resides deep within us. We also begin to shift gears in the way we approach life. Instead of trying to generate delight and wellbeing from outer circumstances, we increasingly let our inner joy flow into our life circumstances. " I hope that makes sense. I often refer to myself as either having a spiritual day, which I feel I truly am having most of the time. Or, I say I am having a human day. What I mean by that is I have disconnected from my ability to see things as they are, whether good or bad, and just be. In my human state of mind, things are going wrong and I am recognize that, in turn, making room for the Universe to offer me more of what I am dwelling on...the stuff going wrong! I am usually conscious, during these times, that I simply need to transition back to my yoga state of mind that allows me to detach from results. That creates my peaceful inner self and my joy.
"As our awareness expands, we realize that our particular circumstances don’t matter as much anymore. Instead, our joyful state of being increasingly radiates throughout all circumstances and becomes immune to their constant shifting."
In yoga, we talk a lot about layers and kleshas (states of mind, like anger, jealousy, ignorance, that manifest into an action) and maya (illusion). This is the "stuff" that serves as a shield separating us from our true state of joy and bliss. When we recognize this, these natural states are more easily achievable.
Chopra Center offers the following ways to help connect with joy:
Inner work –"any type of work that opens us to our deeper self."
Affirming our true nature – "This type of affirmation is powerful because we are aligning our speech, thought, and intention to the truth of who we really are." Change the words you choose to use!!! Today is a good day. I am joy. I am strong. I am healthy. I noticed last week my rotator cuff tendinitis is almost gone. The only change I made was to start saying awhile back, my right shoulder is strong and healthy. Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Alistair Shearer... "Yoga is a way to restore our lost wholeness, our integrity as complete human beings, by unifying the personality around a center that is silent, unbounded, spacious, and joyful."
Seeing through the illusion of outer appearances –" Our limited beliefs create limited perceptions of the outer world. By recognizing this we can deemphasize the limited picture of reality that our senses are showing us. We can realize instead that behind these appearances stands an entirely divine and blissful existence. "
Exercising the choice for joy – "Because joy is already within us, we do not need to seek it or acquire it – but we do need to choose it! " I read an acronym for the word JOY somewhere. Journey. Only. You.
Giving – "The nature of love is to give. Therefore, giving puts us in touch with our divine nature and opens us up to the experience of joy that resides within that nature."
See joy as the true nature of others –"Other people function as our mirrors. Unless we are also seeing their true nature as joy, we will not be able to fully see ourselves this way either. The mirror never lies! Practice imagining other people you know as being infinite bundles of joy -- and you will experience your own joy rising as well. "
On Yoga & Joy By Dr. Kev (yogaclass.com):
No matter how rough it gets, without yoga, it would be worse.
With it, everything becomes possible, and that is my limitless spring of joy!
Coming full circle, the picture of the branch with snow next to the word joy is a simple reminder to me that we have to choose to find joy in everything.