Breathing Space October 2022

by Dan Comer

Sparking Joy: A Mindfulness Practice for Everyday

Joy is a capacity we all have that can be trained and developed—it is a primary component of psychological well-being, encompassing moments of appreciation, enduring contentment, and a sense of confidence and gratitude. Joy is an intrinsic attitude of mind that includes gladness of the heart, softheartedness, and tenderness that supports a capacity for appreciation, contentment, and gratitude.

Cultivating and Practicing Joy

Joy is an intention, cultivation, and a practice. When we intentionally cultivate joy, we discover that it can be the home where we reside; we come home to joy. It takes only a small step of mindfulness to enjoy a piece of music, notice the stars in the sky, the sunlight glistening on the leaves, the people we love around us, a good meal, or all that is right in our bodies in any given moment. These moments are available all of the time. They offer a glimpse of a more enduring contentment.

Mindfulness Exercise: Appreciative Joy

  1. Joy has its roots in a wholehearted appreciative attention. As you go about your day, bring your attention to seeing, touching, and listening wholeheartedly—mindful of how you are touching and being touched by the world. Take moments to pause—to feel the touch of the breeze on your skin, to hear the laughter of a child on the playground, to fully taste the food you eat. Reflect on all that goes well for you today—your ability to move through the world, to be fed and warm, and to care for yourself. Sense the small moments of generosity you extend to or receive from others—the smile, the door held open. In every moment, sense what it is that holds the potential to gladden your heart when you are truly present.
  2. Cultivate innocent perception of everyday things: Each day, intentionally bring awareness to something you do regularly and that you know you enjoy. It could be anything: a morning cup of tea or coffee, a walk, a favorite snack, an interaction with someone you appreciate or love, a person or a pet, or a spacious moment in your day while you travel. Commit to being wholeheartedly present, aware of your bodily sensations, feelings, and thoughts. Bring an innocent perception and sensitivity to the experience, to whatever is present in terms of sights, sounds, taste, and touch. Really sense how attention imbued with innocent perception affects the world of the moment. Allow your heart to expand in the midst of the experience, gladdened by the simplicity of the moment.

Adapted from: Feldman, C. & Kuyken, W. (2019). Mindfulness: Ancient wisdom meets modern psychology. Guilford Press.