Monday, September 19, 2011

cultivating joy

The Buddha said that we are never separated from enlightenment. Even at the times we feel most stuck, we are never alienated from the awakened state. - Pema Chodron

I have been working the last couple of weeks to cultivate joy, in these last dying days of summer. This is a choice I have to make on a daily basis - what to cultivate and what to reject. It can be so much easier to cultivate resentment, dissatisfaction, inattention, mindless indulgence in entertainment and so on. Whatever we put our attention on each moment is the seed we are watering in our hearts and minds. What do we choose to grow? Especially while raising up our children?

At those times when we feel most stuck in our habitual patterns, our environments, our relationships - we can choose to open our hearts to our basic goodness. When we are feeling most stuck, we can remember that who we are is awake and sane. Even when we are feeling totally crazy and overwhelmed. We can turn our minds outward, to the open sky above, a sunbeam in the dusty corner, a smile on our child's face, a beautiful dandelion struggling up through the concrete. What nurtures your goodness? What reminds you of your true nature? For me, in these last few days, it has meant turning my back on the chaos in my apartment and driving with my little ones out to a local farm to celebrate the fall harvest, pick apples, and enjoy the sheep and chickens. It has meant baking my mother's apple pie, even though it makes my heart ache knowing she can no longer bake it herself. It has meant staying in and cleaning my kitchen from top to bottom because the chaos was dampening my spirits and making me cranky with my children. It has meant bringing some straw home from the farm for the neighbor's bunny, left each day in a hard metal cage with no soft floor. It made the children feel better to see him snuggled in the hay.

What can you do today to remind you of your true, joyous nature? To remind your children of their own? To water the seeds of goodness?

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