A Practice of Delight
Have you been having warm spring weather like we have here in Northern California?
Almost at once, the blossoms are appearing on limbs that were just recently bare and the sun has been rising earlier and setting later.
We just recently completed our winter session of Mindfulness Practices for People with PD and their Partners.
The second to last week we dove into a particularly deep discussion around noticing joy and delight in our lives. Though we tend to follow mindfulness themes from the traditional MBSR courses, this particular topic was spurred by This American Life episode 692 if you’re interested please check it out here .
Delight and joy are not often qualities that we are encouraged to pursue in our adult life. And yet, we know that without joy, our lives can lack meaning and context.
Everyone in the group had different practices around noticing delight or noticing the absence of delight. One couple expressed having a daily practice during which they shared with each other a “magic moment” from the previous day. This was a moment which brought them a sense of delight. Another person in the class expressed frustration over no longer having the capacity to do that which had previously brought him joy. Participants came up with suggestions about where else this person could actively explore finding delight.
When we reconvened for our 8th and final week, Selma and I checked in on how the practice of noticing delight had gone.
One participant expressed that she had delight many times throughout the day- from listening to birdsong in the morning, to encounters with babies and animals- but has previously not noted that what she was experiencing was delight. Another person noted beautiful patterns cast from outside light on the ceiling of his bedroom at night.
When I was at jiu jitsu earlier in the week, one of my training partners burst out excitedly after the teacher was done showing us the move of the week “This is so awesome! We get to learn this ninja shit!”
My heart melted. His uncontained exuberance is something I feel a lot when I am training and yet, I rarely express it. It is awesome indeed, to be so lucky as to have a physical practice we can learn from as adults.
Whatever it is that provides delight in our life, one theme became clear. Just as we must make time for our practices we want to strengthen (mindfulness, non-violent communication, yoga asana, sitting meditation)-noticing delight must also be something that we need practice in to become adept at. Another insight we came to is that which gives us joy must be flexible and change over the course of our life. When we can no longer trail run, perhaps we can find delight in walking over soft earth.
And so, as we move into March, into the Spring, perhaps it is a nice time to reconnect with habits/ patterns that we would like to strengthen both within ourselves and within the world and look for new places in our world that nourish our sense of delight.
If you are interested, you can explore delight with the following practice as suggested by Selma Lewis.
Selma’s Prescription for Noticing Joy:
For the next 7 days, make a laundry list of all of the sensations and things which spark delight for you- this can be anything from a walk in a beautiful neighborhood, a greeting with a friendly dog, or a delicious bite of food you have made for yourself. Allow yourself to notice delight or joy when it is present. You can make your list at night of delights you experienced during the day, or perhaps jot notes on the phone as you go throughout the day. If you can share your list of delights with someone else all the better.
As you go along in this practice, you will get more skilled at noticing and naming joy when it occurs, and therefore more likely able to put yourself in the path of more joy.
Happy Moving and Noticing What’s Delightful in Your World!
· Our Mindfulness class with re-open for a Spring session. We will keep you posted when we schedule the dates for Spring 2020.