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Lions Roar : July 2016
IT SEEMS SOMETIMES that we are just destined to feel on edge. Evolution- ary scientists note that humans started in a state of high alert, always scanning for dangerous predators. Developmental psychologists talk of persistent feelings of self-criticism and inadequacy that stem from growing up with inattentive, anx- ious, or even abusive caregivers. The Buddha too spoke of the struggle to find security in a life in which we are fun- damentally powerless, and how this can be a constant source of fear and unease. But he also taught that a joyful life is possible. Joy can be cultivated; it can be expe- rienced. We can develop the habit of happiness. We can deepen our visceral experience of well-being, goodness, and appreciation of our world and ourselves. In the words of the great Thai Buddhist teacher Ajahn Chah, we can offer our- selves “a holiday for the heart.” One way to offer your heart a much- needed holiday is to connect with the experience of love. This might mean think- ing of your loved ones—those you love and who love you. It helps to keep a collec- tion of your favorite photos of loved ones so that you can look at them regularly. This has a powerful impact, even on our bodies. Women who are breast-feed- ing, for example, report that it is easier and more productive when looking at a picture of their baby and internally open- ing to that connection. So whether you are looking at someone’s photo or simply remembering them, don’t leave that as a mere thought. Give yourself the time and space to experience how that love feels in your body. That’s the key to experiencing love’s joy, strong and warm. You can also offer a holiday of relax- ation and ease to all the cells in your body by feeling your embodied, breath- ing being. The center of your physical and energetic being, sometimes called the hara or origin point, lies just below your navel in the center of your body. As you breathe down fully into your belly, let whatever tension you are holding in your body surrender to gravity. Even more simply, let yourself just feel HEART & MIND EnJOY Your Life! Simply enjoying your life every day may be the most beneficial spiritual practice of all—and for many of us the most difficult. Fortunately, say ARI GOLDFIELD and ROSE TAYLOR GOLDFIELD, there are proven techniques to help you experience the joy and goodness of life. LWA/DANNTARDIF/BLENDIMAGES Psychotherapist ARI GOLDFIELD and certi- fied coach ROSE TAYLOR GOLDFIELD are co-directors of Wisdom Sun, a Buddhist community based in San Francisco. LION’S ROAR | JULY 2016 22 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE