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My Mudita Man

“What a beautiful world it would be, if people had hearts like dogs.”

It was decades down my path that I was introduced to the Buddhist Brahmaviharas, or four “Divine Abodes” of human nature. Twenty years of yoga had fluttered the terms about my atmosphere, honoring Lovingkindness (Metta), Compassion (Karuna), Joy (Mudita) and Equanimity (Upekkha) in pre-class intentions or post-class meditations, but I did not understand them in my soul, until the amber eyes of my sweet boy looked up at me from my lap.

He couldn’t have come at a better time. On a cool drizzly evening not so long ago, I was reminded of the Brahmaviharas in a dharma talk. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to marinate in a rich meditation on an influence of MUDITA/JOY in my life. Waking in a slight smile to the room 40 minutes later, my heart felt warm tender gratitude for my life, my practice and my man. It wasn’t long however, until my mind reflected on the very real struggles of anhedonia I’d had witnessed in The Peanut Gallery recently. Truth is, in our modern day world, the sensitivity to feel JOY is commonly blocked with craving from lack, fear of safety and vulnerability, global cruelty and injustice and personal alienation. For many, a source of JOY seems not only hard to find or hold onto for very long, but seems systemically shamed in our community as a foolish, irresponsible or selfishly entitled expression. I’ve worked with clients suffering deep depression, going weeks without showering, buried under the inertia of inactivity, others in existential self-shaming grief over their privilege in light of the overwhelming injustice and poverty in the world and, most commonly, those imploding with feelings of failure and rejection of their unique inspirations or bodies driving them towards addictions and obsessions.

These blocks to happiness, in social conditioning, trauma or long-term habituation literally re-program our hormone cascades towards a negative bias of thinking that can be a deep and difficult groove to pull out of. Consequential structural and physiological dysfunctions can perpetuate life-sabotaging choices that can be painful and create multi-layered syndromes of disease.

No matter where you are, breath and reprieve are available. JOY is still an option. Find the easiest micro dose of joy sensation and take 5 minutes to practice holding it in your heart. Be it a cute or funny animal picture or video, pause for a view of the morning out a window, walk at the beach, quiet moment of sun on your face or distant memory of laughter with a good friend… each positive sensation you imagine begins your ascent from the negative quicksand and begins to create a new pathway of JOY in your being.

In honor of his birthday, I am sharing some pictures of my favorite infusion of JOY to fuel your path. Introducing Bodhimanda, the most present, the most muddy, and the most joyful love of my life. He is the sweetest, silliest and most genuine creature I have ever had the honor of spending time with. He will spazz and speed in an explosion of glee for a leaf floating down the river. He will slink and squirm into the most enrapturing cuddle with your armpit so cozily that whatever you had planned to” do” will become quickly unimportant. He will track, pounce and play wildly with a sugar snap pea, tossing and rolling it all over the house, without so much as bruising the skin. He has such an abundance of liquid gold love overflowing from his eyes, even when he’s chewing up your slipper, that it is IMPOSSIBLE to stay mad, sad or focused on anything but his whole-body wagging delight. He is my Brahmavihara Master, My Mudita Man.

Thank you, My Love… and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!