Joy Journal

Joy Journal #11: April 23, 2022

I spent a beautiful morning walking along the stunning Antrim coastline: beginning at the Giant’s Causeway and ending at Dunseverick Castle. The castle is an ancient royal site of the Dál Riada, a Gaelic kingdom from at least the 5th century AD. Saint Patrick is recorded as having visited the site, where he baptized Olcán, a local man who later became a Bishop of Ireland. The castle was captured and destroyed by General Robert Munro in 1642, and his Cromwellian troops in the 1650s, with only the ruins of the gate lodge remaining. The northern area contains an oval depression of wet ground which is thought to be a holy well, known as Saint Patrick’s Well.

As I explored this desolate and ancient site, I discovered a lone Hawthorne tree. In Ireland, the Hawthorn is synonymous with the ‘Sidhe’ or Fairies. From the times of the druids the tree was highly valued as a source of medicinal remedies. The flowers, leaves, and berries were used to treat conditions of the heart, and lower blood pressure.

Certain hawthorn trees, especially those associated with Holy Wells, are known as “Rag Trees” or “Wishing Trees”. Historically, cloth strips taken from the clothing of an ill person were tied to the branches of the tree as a petition to a local saint or deity. Local people also tie strips of colourful cloth to the wishing tree as a symbol of their prayers or wishes. These items are known as clotties. It was an honour to come upon this beautiful and sacred offering. #JoyBlogging

Something to Inspire

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“Those who train wholeheartedly in awakening bodhichitta are called bodhisattvas or warriors—not warriors who kill but warriors of nonaggression who hear the cries of the world. Warrior-bodhisattvas enter challenging situations in order to alleviate suffering. They are willing to cut through personal reactivity and self-deception. They are dedicated to uncovering the basic, undistorted energy of bodhichitta.”

~ Comfortable with UncertaintyPema Chödrön,

Something to Inspire

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“Be drawn to the mystery and magnificence of the universe. Be awed by the beauty and splendour of this earth we live upon. Hold sacred, pay homage, and bear witness to the everyday wonders of life. Honour what has passed before us. Hope that what is ahead fulfills our destiny, and your journey will have meaning and purpose and your stay here will have counted for something. Your eyes may be small but what they see is enormous. Look straight ahead at life and do not flinch.” ~ “Dadisms”, Jackson, Salt Spring Island, Spring 2017.

Something to Inspire

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“We’re not doomed in any way because whatever happens, we can begin, right now, to do our very best. There’s always something small we can do to alter our habitual response, even a little bit. It could be taking a few conscious breaths, or stepping back for a moment, or walking around the block to change the energy. It could be anything, as long as it interrupts the process of escalating our suffering in the exact same habitual way, over and over and over.”

~ Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World, by Pema Chödrön,

Something to Inspire

“Now. That’s the key. Now, now, now. Mindfulness trains you to be awake and alive, fully curious, about what? Well, about now, right? You sit in meditation and the out-breath is now and waking up from your fantasies is now and even the fantasies are now, although they seem to take you into the past and into the future. The more you can be completely now, the more you realize that you’re in the center of the world, standing in the middle of a sacred circle.”

~ Excerpted from: Awakening Loving-Kindness, Pema Chödrön, page 57

Something to Inspire

“Can you learn to surf the chaos and uncertainty that real life includes without falling into a trance of unworthiness? You can. A surfer is powerless to change the towering wave rushing toward her. But she doesn’t want to change it. She wants to surf it and she learns to feel safe in the immense ocean of being even when she falls. She confidently gets right back up to meet the next wave.”  

Excerpted from: Zen in the Age of Anxiety: Wisdom for Navigating Our Modern Lives, by Tim Burkett, page 31

Something to Inspire

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If I could find the right words to soothe you, 

to calm you and comfort you,

I would blanket them around you 

with blessings and prayers

And remind you that you will make it through

No matter how dim and narrow and harrowing it looks

A golden thread extends forward into eternity

pulling you forth 

A cord of light from your heart 

that connects you to the great sea of Being 

that is the whole of us

yes invisible 

but do not doubt it,

for it is the very fabric of our Being

the hidden secret 

that wells our eyes with tears

as we recognize ourselves 

in each other.

~ Mijanou (Mystic Mama)

Something to Inspire

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“Status quo is not very helpful for spiritual growth, for using this short interval between birth and death. On the other hand, expanding our ability to feel comfortable in our own skin and in the world, so that we can be there as much as possible for other people, is a very worthy way to spend a human life.”
Excerpted from:

Welcoming the Unwelcome: Wholehearted Living in a Brokenhearted World
by Pema Chödrön

“If you make happiness your primary goal, you might miss out on the challenges that give life meaning. ..Bringing good things into your life, whether love, career success, or something else, usually involves risk. Risk doesn’t necessarily make us happy, and a risky life is going to bring disappointment. But it can also bring bigger rewards than a life played safe, as the study of happiness, academic achievement, and income suggests. Those with the highest performance at work and school made decisions that were probably unpleasant at times, and even scary…

As with everything in life, happiness has its trade-offs. Pursuing happiness to the exclusion of other goals–known as psychological hedonism–is not only an exercise in futility. It may also give you a life that you find you don’t want, one in which you don’t reach your full potential, you’re reluctant to take risks, and you choose fleeting pleasures over challenging experiences that give life meaning.”

How to Build a Life” is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness. 

The full article can be read in the Atlantic:

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2022/03/chasing-happiness-leads-to-dissatisfaction/629427/

Something to Inspire

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“People often say, ‘Meditation is all very well, but what does it have to do with my life?’ What it has to do with your life is that perhaps through this simple practice of paying attention—giving loving-kindness to your speech and your actions and the movements of your mind—you begin to realize that you’re always standing in the middle of a sacred circle, and that’s your whole life. This room is not the sacred circle. Gampo Abbey is not the sacred circle. Wherever you go for the rest of your life, you’re always in the middle of the universe and the circle is always around you. Everyone who walks up to you has entered that sacred space, and it’s not an accident. Whatever comes into the space is there to teach you.”

Excerpted from:

Awakening Loving-Kindness
by Pema Chödrön, page 54