James Baraz (Part 2) – Awakening Joy: Life Skills for Living, Loving, Enjoying, and Serving Life to the Full

James Baraz Awakening Joy

“Don’t miss it!” says James Baraz, author of Awakening Joy and creator of the very intriguing 5-month Awakening Joy course. “Don’t miss it” refers to the present moment—the gladness, the beauty, the uniqueness. James explains that in order to awaken our joy, we need to savor the wholesome moments and not turn away distracted, slipping back into our habitual mental ruts. James’ teachings take us deeply into states like gratitude and compassionate presence, to where we can focus our attention on how it feels to feel good somatically, thereby creating new neural pathways that strengthen awareness and aliveness. James has witnessed a lot of people learn to love themselves and turn their lives around as a result of this teaching. Why are we the last ones to see the goodness inside ourselves? he wonders. How can we so radically underestimate ourselves? 

Rest in the landscape of gratitude when James guides a short meditation in part 2, and be inspired that transformational change is indeed possible for all of us—to where we can know the joy of loving ourselves, of connecting with others, the joy of letting go, of service, and the joy of simply being—as we undertake the fundamental experiment of discovering who we really are. Recorded September 14, 2022.

“A simple shift of perspective is transformative.”

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Topics & Time Stamps – Part 2

  • Train your mind to be on the lookout for the good and notice how it feels to feel good somatically; this will deepen the neural pathways (00:59)
  • James guides a short experiential gratitude practice, where we deepen into feeling how gratitude itself actually feels (05:14)
  • When James lost his joy: how unwholesome states lead to more suffering (11:27)
  • Cultivating wholesome states: maintain and increase wholesome states, but don’t hold onto them (16:06)
  • Awakening Joy’s 10 steps to happiness relate to the 10 states we want to cultivate (18:52) 
  • Intention is the beginning; choosing how to process what’s happening (19:49)
  • Mindfulness: presence deepens the healthy states (21:44)
  • Gratitude “opens our satellite dish to all the blessings in life”(23:00)
  • Opening to the hard stuff, all the suffering in life (23:13) 
  • Integrity, the foundation of well-being (23:31)
  • The joy of letting go: of stuff, of busyness, of our stories (24:52)
  • The joy of loving ourselves and learning to see who we really are (26:47)
  • The difference between narcissism and loving yourself, and the Judeo-Christian myth of needing redemption (27:41) 
  • The joy of connection with others, includes forgiveness (31:07)
  • Compassion, the caring heart that wants to relieve suffering (31:34)
  • The joy of simply being and the underlying nature of reality (32:13)
  • States of contraction vs states of expansion: Sat Chit Ananda (34:39)

Resources & References – Part 2

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5-Month Awakening Joy Course, January 31-June 6, 2023

For information about the 5-month course and James Baraz’ teaching schedule, click here: www.awakeningjoy.info.

James Baraz Awakening Joy

James Baraz has been teaching mindfulness meditation for over 40 years in the U.S. and internationally, and is a founding teacher of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center. James has been leading the online course Awakening Joy since 2003 and is co-author of Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness and Awakening Joy for Kids. He also serves as a guiding teacher to One Earth Sangha, a Virtual EcoDharma Center devoted to Buddhist responses to Climate Change.

Mind Our Democracy is a new project/movement to help meditation, yoga, and other spiritual students navigate these perilous and fraught times with engagement, wisdom, and heart. It’s completely non-partisan, encouraging folks to vote for compassion, kindness, and inclusivity in this pivotal moment. Visit the mindourdemocracy.com website to see the inspiring video with Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, Seane Corn, and other leaders, as well as a set of resources to inspire civic engagement within contemplative communities like yours. Then join our movement and share it with others.

Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell

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