Joy | Finding Connection and Hope in Wobbling Times

Finding joy in wobbling times — how are you doing with that today? Have you noticed that things are feeling kind of foggy lately? Maybe a little surreal. Disconnected. Maybe you find yourself more inclined to reach for seclusion and comfort than in times past.

How do I know if what I’m experiencing is joy?


In spiritual direction we offer a gently persistent invitation to Be With whatever is happening in the moment. Notice and name what is happening in your mind, your emotions, and even your body. Make room for it to just be as big or small a noticing as needs be. And then? Get curious about what that’s all about.

You might notice that rage or shame feel cavernous or tight in your chest or your belly. Regret may leave you feeling, literally, weak in the knees.

What, then, do you notice about light or “positive” feelings? A little aside here: emotions are not “good,” or “bad.” They simply are. Kind of like breathing, right? You don’t invite them. They just show up — bossing and storming and unrolling their sleeping bag like they’re going to camp out for the long haul. Neither moral or immoral, we approach them as healers and teachers. Just pointers to the parts of our interior life that are asking for attention, nurture, and healing.

But back to the feel-good bits: Can you recall a time in you life when you felt something like deep-breath relief?

Peace? Is there a place or person that comes to mind as you remember what quiet heart and quiet mind feel like?

Hope? What was happening the last time you experienced a feeling of hope? What do you notice in your body, now, as you bring that experience to mind?

Parker Palmer on Finding Joy

“Two weeks ago, I co-hosted a webinar on some of the world’s most urgent and intractable problems. The speakers were folks who are doing good work on issues like racial justice, gun violence, and climate change, so there was at least a little hope in the air.

But confronting hard realities like these is heavy lifting, and it’s easy to get discouraged, even fall into despair…

Halfway thru the webinar, my co-host, Sharon Salzberg, led us in a meditation break. As we settled into silence, Sharon asked us bring our attention to such simple things as the sounds in the room where we sat, the sensations in our bodies, our own breath…

Then she invited us to bring to mind a recent experience of joy. I went back to a moment on a hike I had taken a few days earlier. I was photographing a flower when a beautiful hummingbird flitted in and out of the frame, and by dumb luck, I was able to get this shot.

I was focused on this moment of joy when I heard Sharon say, quietly, “This, too, is real.” All of a sudden, my world was rebalanced…

Alongside the hard realities we must deal with, life offers a million moments of delight—and they, too, are real. Staying in touch with delight as it comes and goes will help us do our share of the world’s heavy lifting.”

Parker Palmer [Sharon Salzberg’s books are at Parker Palmer’s are at OR]

Less heavy lifting, more delight

If you feel like you have been doing a lot of heavy lifting and not much delight-ing, that’s okay. Today is a good day to become curious about becoming curious about delight. You may not have the energy or heart to dig in to formation or growth. Self-help may be something you left in the dust a decade ago. But your sense of Wonder? That persistently mischievous Knowing that keeps inviting you to explore generosity and gentleness and your own Wild Self Knowing? That journey is surprising in its disruptive joy.

How would you like to continue that exploration? Your life has been giving you some clues. Subtle nudges toward something that feels hopeful, peaceful, joyful. Not-so-subtle-rut-jumping disruptions that seem to yell, “Something has GOT to change! Now!” How do you want to be with that? Do you have a sense of how you want to move toward it?

Could this be less about self improvement, and more about longing? The longing to be heard and believed. The desire to become unstuck from the places that feel just-so-mired in self doubt and anger and capital S Sad. Or another longing altogether. How would you complete this wondering, “If only I could…”? Or, “I just wish that…”?

Borrow permission here to just spend a minute with those questions. The answers might be fingers pointing you in the direction of some joyful disruption.

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