Today I offer an exercise to help you cultivate joy into the new year.  First, find a quiet space to sit and reflect.  Before you even begin answering these questions, spend a few minutes with your eyes closed, bringing awareness to your breath.  Begin to connect with your inner world.  This will prepare the mind for reflection.

What does the word joy mean to you?  How would you define joy?  Are there sensations attached to the word and if so, what sensations come to mind when you think of joy?

Reflect on the previous year, in what ways did you incorporate joy into your life?  Was it easy or challenging?

If you are in recovery: What role does your Sobriety play in incorporating Joy in your life?  How is the joy more authentic now?

How do you strive to connect with joy in your daily life?

In what ways are you hoping to increase joy in your life this year?  What are you intending for yourself?

Write about a time in your life where you felt joy, where when you close your eyes and think of this moment you can remember the joy you felt.  (Describe in detail what you remember)

Pick a symbol to represent Joy, something found in nature, found in the heavens.  What comes to mind for you?

When you’ve finished this exercise, sit for a moment with eyes closed and connect to your joyful place and your symbol.  Here is a live group meditation to help you connect to this sacred place:

 

In my Inner Peace Group we spent time discussing our thoughts around these questions.  We were able to define joy as a spiritual feeling, filled with freedom, elation, and openness; moments where we are fully present and aware.  Moments where we are both fulfilled and content with our lives. Joy creates feelings of warmth, elation, feathery sensations, and radiates from the hearth center.

Joy is a spiritual experience of openness, freedom, connection, and love.  Joy embodies the sensations of warmth, fulfillment, and elation.  Joy radiates from the heart center. 

We discussed the challenges around connecting with joy.  The effect of the fears and worries of every day life consuming our thoughts, as well as negative self talk, preventing us from feeling joyful.

We also reflected on drug use and addiction and how views of joy have radically changed since entering treatment. One participant shared that he believes that joy is something that you cannot experience the full expression of when you are using due to it being a spiritual experience.

Many mentioned that they previously thought that joy was drugs, sex, and incumbent of other people.  That today, those special moments when we feel joy is now authentic, that it is empowering, now knowing that we are capable of true connection and joy within.

Incorporating joy in daily life involves building and maintaining relationships, taking action, spiritual connection, serving others, serenity, self care, incorporating creativity in life, and participating in community.

This upcoming year we are intending to increase joy by increasing spiritual connection and nurturing our relationship with higher power through prayer and meditation.

Participants shared special moments that they could connect to past joyful feelings including a beautiful sunrise, laughing around a campfire with friends, connecting to an animal, hitting a grand slam in baseball, dancing to music with their family, and surfing the perfect wave.

Several beautiful symbols that represent joy were chosen.  The sun, a shooting star, the sky, a tree, the starry night, the ocean endlessly connecting to the earth, and crystal clear blue water.

I would love to hear about your symbols, thoughts, and special joyful moments.  Please share below!