The pursuit of joy
Author and guru to the stars holds Dharma Center retreat this weekend

The pursuit of joy
Joy Martin - 10/25/2018

These are dark times, I think you’d agree. If the election season isn’t enough to send you for the covers, there’s always drought, wildfires, floods, suicides, gun violence and plastic straws. Yes, there are bursts of happiness, like the birth of a child, Hurricane Bud and eating chocolate. And, yes, life really is beautiful, which is why we persevere in pursuit of something deeper than happiness. What is that, you say? For the sake of the conversation, I’m claiming it’s joy.

It’s impossible to not expect someone named “Joy” to not be full of that elusive quality that surpasses the news, mood of the moment and life circumstances, or at least full of thoughts about it. Since I’ve had 34 years to accept the responsibility that comes with this name of mine, I feel like a quasi-expert on the matter. So, here’s a subjective soliloquy to ponder.

Let’s start by defining what joy is not. Joy isn’t about being absurdly happy (though I’m guilty of that on powder days and in fits of laughter with my best friends). It’s not about being in denial of sad things or never getting angry at technology or always finding the silver lining. It’s not material or something to be won.

“Joy is a general feeling of aliveness and well-being that is characterized by engagement with life, meeting its ups and downs with authenticity and perspective,” author and teacher, James Baraz says. “It can look very different from person to person, from a quiet sense of contentment to bubbly enthusiasm.”

I don’t know Baraz personally, and I haven’t read his book Awakening Joy: 10 Steps that Will Put You on the Road to Real Happiness. But I appreciate that he is coming to the Durango Dharma Center this weekend, Oct. 26-28, to hold space for people to consider how joy can express itself uniquely through each of us. This weekend retreat with Baraz is something that the Durango Dharma Center has been working to make happen for more than two years.

Baraz has been teaching this book as an online course since 2003 to more than 15,000 people, including such well-known luminaries as Bill Gates and Oprah. The retreat will include instructions from the book, including 10 practical principles, like expressing gratitude and compassion, that’ll help folks remain connected and alive. The retreat will also focus on developing qualities that prepare us for facing fear and uncertainty about what’s coming around the bend.

When was the last time you considered how you spend time throughout your day? What motivates you to do the things you do? This weekend with Baraz is a chance to not only hear from a passionate expert on the subject of joy but to also sit in silent meditation, walk in meditation, and check in with your soul for a bit, contemplating life’s bigger questions.

“If the word ‘joy’ is a stretch, don’t worry,” encourages Baraz.

“Truly happy people are not happy all the time. You do not

have to be a ‘joyful person’ to benefit from this workshop, though you might have fun anyway.”

Not sure if you want to commit to the whole weekend? Come Friday evening and see what stirs – or not.

“These are crazy, strange times,” says Baraz. “This is precisely the time to develop these qualities because the more you can get in touch with everything that’s good and beautiful inside, the more you feel alive and want to work for a better world.”

For more information, go to www.durangodharmacenter.org. 

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