Oh joy joy joy joy joy!
“Why are you joyful?” You ask.
“That is an excellent question!” I respond.
Is it because I’m finally hugging Old Man Winter good bye for the season as he packs his bags? I’ll welcome him with open arms next winter when I see that much-anticipated first snowfall of the season. I’ll smile, thinking about the miracle of nature. For now, though, it’s seeing the ground for the first time in months that’s making me smile.
Or am I joyful because I went for my first jog of the season last night? It was a chilly 50 degrees Fahrenheit but warm enough for me! The sting on my thighs as I ran the hills on my street felt delicious.
Maybe I’m happy because I cooked my first meal in over six months yesterday! I made beef stew cooked in beer, nothing fancy, but it’s a huge step for me to make an attempt to shop and cook something. I even saw flowers in front of the grocery store and realized I could have seen a flower if I’d only left the safety of my house and gone shopping.
The other day, the weather was so warm and I was so filled with happiness that I skipped down the path like a little kid, hiking boots and cleats thudding on the dry leaves and soggy snow, arms waving up and down. Pup thought we were playing and he skipped along with me, his face grinning from ear to ear and his happy tongue hanging out.
Or maybe I’m happy because of a new love I have. His name is Ajahn Brahm. I discovered his YouTube videos the other night while searching for a dharma talk to watch before my nightly meditation.
Everyone else who teaches meditation insists on eyes open, or eyes closed, or back straight as a board, elbows out, hands folded just under the belly button, head up and back, looking down, sit on sitz bones, etc. etc. I do follow those rules, mostly because I want to be sure I give my back and my brain the best chance of being able to sit for long periods.
But the refreshing thing about Ajahn Brahm’s teachings is that he’s totally mellow. He’s on this natural high, talking about seeing vibrant colors and watching blades of grass. If I didn’t know any better I’d think “This guy must be tripping on LSD”. His meditation instruction is: Get into a comfortable position and just be. Don’t fight anything, don’t go anywhere, just be. Let thoughts come if they insist, allow sleepiness if it happens. Don’t control anything, don’t watch your breath, don’t do anything. Just be. Whatever happens, be calm, smile, and just be. He has only one positional rule: Turn up the corners of your mouth and smile. That’s it. The rest is purely optional.
Last night I watched one of his YouTube videos, and he was burping and coughing into the mic. Initially it was distracting and annoying, but the annoyance disappeared as I realized he was totally unapologetic and unembarrassed about it. I felt like this guy was in my kitchen drinking tea with me chatting with me like an old friend. I am truly in love with his style and the way he knows how to captivate westerners.
The older I get and the more I meditate and think about it, the more I’m convinced that it’s not about what specific religion you choose. It’s all about doing whatever you need to do to bring that smile and appreciation of every blade of grass into your present moment. You don’t have that? Then keep searching! Never ever ever give up! Because EVERYTHING begins with now. Everything.