I can’t think of a better way to set the intention in the new year to develop more resilience, joy, and well-being in the entire year than James Baraz’s 2015 Awakening Joy course.
The five-month course, live in Berkeley, CA and online internationally, guides participants through 10 steps developing skills in intention, mindfulness, gratitude, finding joy in difficult times, integrity, letting go, loving ourselves, loving others, compassion, and simply being.
Guest teachers like Rick Hanson, Shauna Shapiro and Google’s Jolly Good Fellow Chade-Meng Tan, expand James’ core teachings. (I will be teaching on Finding Joy in Difficult Times March 10, 2015.) Practice letters, conference calls, videos, joy buddies and community forums support participants’ learning. (My local 2015 Deepening Joy group begins January 16, 2015.
Awakening Joy is powerfully transformative, very affordable (no one turned away for lack of funds) and eminently fun. It begins January 27, 2015. For more information or to register, click here.
Here’s an example of finding joy in difficult times, from How We Choose To Be Happy, the book by Rick Foster and Greg Hicks that was the text for the Awakening Joy course before James and Shoshana wrote their book, and then quotes by respected Buddhist teachers:
Within a two year period, Adele’s parents died, skyrocketing rents forced her business into bankruptcy, her husband left her for another woman, her house burned to the ground in the Oakland hills fire, and her beloved dog died.
“As my initial shock began to clear, a feeling that I wanted to live outweighed all of my thoughts about death. I began to see there was hope among the ashes. There was one big opportunity – I had a clean slate. I wanted to feel whole. I was sure that I wanted to embrace everything in life – the good and the bad. As long as I had to start over and create a whole new life, I was going to create a happy one.”
Adele cried a lot. When she felt empty, she meditated. When she felt unsure, she called a friend to talk about what she was going through. She joined a support group for women. She poured out her heart in un-mailed letters to her mom, dad, and ex-husband. And, stripped down to essentials, to her real self, she began building a more authentic life for herself.
Adele re-framed losing every external support she had as an opportunity to draw on her own resilient resources within. “What I never had before was self-knowledge. Now, I know myself. I know my limits, my emotional range, my loves. And I know I can build a life around those things. What I have now [thriving catering business, a serene “tree house” home in the Berkeley hills, warm, intimate friendships) is a life that reflects the real me!”
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Gratitude in our darkest times is more than a matter of remembering our blessings so we can hold the hard stuff in a bigger perspective. With understanding, we see that often it is the suffering itself that deepens us, maturing our perspective on life, making us more compassionate and wise than we would have been without it. How many times have we been inspired by those who embody a wisdom that could only come from dealing with adversity? And how many valuable lessons have we ourselves learned because life has given us unwanted challenges? With a grateful heart, we’re not only willing to face our difficulties, we can realize while we’re going through them that they are a part of our ripening into wisdom and nobility.
– James Baraz
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It took years for me to realize that the very twists and turns and shadows I labeled “problems” were really sacred ground, grace disguised as obstacles, the whole path a pilgrimage, mysteries baring themselves before me all along the way.
– Danna Faulds
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The Buddhist teachings are fabulous at simply working with what’s happening as your path of awakening, rather than treating your life experiences as some kind of deviation from what is supposed to be happening. The more difficulties you have, in fact, the greater opportunity there is to let them transform you. The difficult things provoke all your irritations and bring your habitual patterns to the surface. And that becomes the moment of truth. You have the choice to launch into the lousy habitual patterns you already have, or to stay with the rawness and discomfort of the situation and let it transform you, on the spot.
– Pema Chodron