We recently spent a few weeks in India with Swami Kriyananda and a number of others. There is a refreshing and inspiring quality of joy in the Indian culture that pops up in everyone from cab drivers to professors. It got us thinking about how to be more joyful in our daily lives here in the busy, stress-filled West. Here are ten ways to bring more joy into your life.
1 Concentrate at the spiritual eye.
The point between the eyebrows is the center of joy in the body as well as light. After finishing your meditation techniques, dive into this center for as long and deep as you can, feeling that you are melting all vestiges of ego, negativity, and worries.
2 End each meditation by bathing yourself in joy.
Consciously try to feel the vibration of joy, which is already within you. With practice, it will become easy to recognize. Once you feel the seed of inner joy, expand it to fill your whole being. Hold that feeling for as long as you can. Make a special effort to stay in joy as you make the transition from meditation to daily activity. Spend the first five minutes of daily activity in a joyful, uplifted state of mind and it will lighten your entire day.
3 Realize that joy is your natural state, not something you have to acquire.
Normally, the mind alternates between waves of happiness and negativity, with boredom like a trough between the two crests. When these alternating waves are calmed we experience peace. But, beneath the surface is the sea itself. That sea is our true nature and is composed of joy. To paraphrase the great exponent of yoga, Patanjali, “Joy occurs spontaneously when we neutralize the waves of likes and dislikes.”
4 Feel that God or one of His saints is with you all the time. Yogananda said, “If you think me near, I will be near.” Walk with him, work with him, eat and play with him. Make him your closest friend and share all your experiences — good, bad, and indifferent. Feel he is holding your hand, especially through life’s tests and challenges.
5 Create a portable paradise, a bubble of joy.
Clearly visualize a bubble of joy, like a rainbow-hued force field that surrounds and protects you. The more clearly you can visualize it, the more powerful it will be. Try to stay inside the bubble of joy, especially when you are alone and quiet. Step inside your bubble of joy during the little pauses in life — waiting in a line or quietly eating a snack. Keep your mind positive and relaxed and you’ll be amazed at how stable your bubble can become. When you’ve made your portable paradise a permanent habit, it will withstand even the strongest storms life can throw at you.
6 Neutralize negativity with joy.
As soon as you feel anxiety, judgment or any negative state, you can neutralize it by concentrating strongly at the spiritual eye. The sooner you catch it, the easier it will be. It literally takes only a couple of minutes to pull yourself out of a negative mood with this powerful practice. Make happiness a conscious choice and it will be your constant companion.
7 Do your energization exercises with joy.
Start each day by feeding your cells a breakfast of energy, health, and joy.
8 Chant a joyful song in your mind.
In the background of your thoughts silently chant, “From joy I came, for joy I live, in sacred joy I melt again,” or “Gioia, Gioia, Gioia.” Listen to “Chant of the Angels,” or some other uplifting music at home or while you’re driving.
9 Put a twinkle in your eyes.
Never let your gaze become dull or unfocused.
10 Don’t be passive.
Do any one of these practices and you will feel an increase of joy in your life. Do all of them and you will feel transformed.