For many, the holiday season is more stressful than other times of the year. It can be hard to reconcile what the advertisements tell us we should be feeling with our lived experience. How can we cultivate joy when we are facing so many challenges in this world? Must we avert our gaze from what is actually happening or is the best option to distract ourselves with a myriad of entertainment possibilities? Maybe it's easiest to just go along with the flow of society and consume more without considering whether that really satisfies our real needs or promotes the health of the planet? According to Carolyn Baker and Andrew Harvey, co-authors of Return to Joy,
"The joy of which we are speaking does not depend on denying the agony of our global predicament. Any form of joy that does not directly confront what is occurring is doomed to fail, and at this moment, if we are to access the creative energies of joy, we cannot afford such failure, for our very survival is at stake."
So how do we move forward with joy in the midst of struggle? Surely, it's not wise to repress whatever afflictive emotions we may be experiencing or to ignore the plight of others who are suffering. Doubt, confusion, anger, frustration, depression, and grief all need space to be heard and to be allowed. Rather than indulging these darker moods of the mind, we can acknowledge them without getting stuck or believing that this is who we ultimately are. We can re-connect with the intrinsic fullness and joy of being which is like the sky that does not disappear even when clouds appear. There are no shortcuts, no quick fixes and no by-passes that will catapult us over the difficult patches; we have to go through the dark night to enter the brighter spaciousness of the heart/mind. Only by embracing everything can we experience wholeness. As Pema Chodron says, "This is the process of making friends with ourselves and with our world. It involves not just the parts we like, but the whole picture, because it all has a lot to teach us." Are we ready to learn?
What is it that we can bring forth into these challenging times? How can we face reality without being overwhelmed? Discover the inner strength and capacity for joy which will enable you to move into the fullness of possibility.
Sister Dhammadhira invites you to join her for meditation, inquiry and other contemplative practices. She adds her own experience of fifteen years in monastic life to the amazing work of Joanna Macy, HH Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Carolyn Baker and Andrew Harvey, each one having discovered a path through challenge into joy.
Togetherwe will experience silence and dialogue, stillness and movement, nature and creativity as we explore life’s fullness.
This is a non-residential retreat. You may come for one day or for all three. If you wish to stay overnight, we can provide you with a list of nearby lodgings.