We are on our last pairing as a Sadhana/practice is Sadness & Joy. Underneath Fear, Disgust and Anger is Sadness. Along with Joy there is Love, Courage and Wonder. The point of these practices is to give us the emotional agility to manage the unmanageability of life. To become aware, learn, understand, accept and take skilful action so we can thrive in life.
Karuna means Sadness. Sadness is a natural, healthy and common emotion or Rasa. Sadness will fade with time, however if it stays this leads to depression. We are focussing on Sadness. It is an emotional pain felt (Bhava) if we are unsuccessful at something important to us, we feel unhappy if we are disappointed. Sadness arises when we have to let go of what we are attached to. Did you have this feeling after working with anger last week? Underneath the anger of letting what you were attached to was just this heavy sadness? There is a feeling of pity, regret, feeling glum. Sadness is an expression of the pain when there is a loss or suffering, opening to the many ways to feel that as despair, grief, helplessness, sorrow, despondency, misery, melancholy.
Feel this in the body. Think of those who are victims of war, violence, famine, injustice, abuse, illness, disease and those who watch their loved one die. When we are sad usually we feel lethargic, withdrawn, loose interest in activities that you use to enjoy, crying is an physical expression of sadness, difficulty sleeping, speaking and moving slowly, usually a lot of unexplained aches and pains in the body, using things like alcohol, TV etc to numb the pain.
However, think of the Dali Lama and what he represents. Beholder of all suffering and sadness, yet laughs the most, finds Joy wherever he is and in the face of oppressors great understanding, tolerance and compassion. Compassion, mercy, spiritual longing can also be a part of sadness. There is a gift of sadness that cracks our hearts open to the love and the truth of impermanence. We feel sad for ourselves and others for not seeing through the illusion of life called Maya and the ignorance it creates called Avidya. When we wake from the illusion there is a precious gift of the Joy of experience. There is a sadness knowing nothing will last, so to enjoy the moment by moment beauty of it all. This is the antidote to Sadness…JOY!
Joy – Hasya. Bhava, the feeling is when joy is felt it expresses itself in us as happiness, delight, enjoyment, excitement, pleasure, jubilant, elation, euphoria, bliss, exuberance, rapture, ecstasy. Joy’s nature likes to point out what is funny, ridiculous to make us laugh helping release tension. Sense of humour, playfulness, it can go into a bit darker humour of sarcasm and satire to express the more uncomfortable truths. It also moves us to appreciate life, to see the beauty in it all and to find great pleasure in what we are doing as it feels good.
Joy is the most vulnerable emotion as it is tethered to Sadness and the truth of impermanence. Joy asks us to be present, To slow down, to open to the fragility of Joy and be vulnerable to what moves you. This gets you in touch with the other emotions of wonder, courage and love.
There are Joy Junkies…but this is unsustainable. Joy just like the other emotions change, are impermanent. Denying things change causes suffering and the other uncomfortable emotions of fear, disgust, anger and sadness comes when we want to dominate, hold or have attachment to what brings us joy. It is healthy to explore and become more emotional agile, this is one way I have been able to practice.
I would recommend ‘Gratitude List’. I prefer calling it an ‘Annoy and Joy’ list. First admit the things that annoyed you, admitting your feelings of fear, disgust, anger and sadness – don’t bypass your truth of emotions. Then make a list of the things that brought you sincere joy, delight and cracked your heart open to the beauty and love in your life. We have a strong negative bias in our brains to keep us safe this can lead to a downward spiral into our sadness. This keeps you open to noticing the little and big things that you feel heartfelt gratitude, sincere joy and delight for. This is proven to increase your resilience and ability to self-regulate when you feel the pain of sadness. Joy holds the greatest gifts that life has to offer and that counterbalances our pain of Sadness. There is a bittersweetness to sadness and joy we carry. We practice holding both as they enrich the depth of our love. Opens us up to hope and moves us deeply to our own creativity leading us to lasting fulfilment, deeper contentment and freedom from what causes us pain and suffering.
I welcome you to practice opening to your capacity for JOY and SADNESS, the thread that cracks our heart open, where hopefully as you discover more about how this unfolds in you, you extend this understanding to others. We don’t know what people are going through, just as much as they don’t know what you are going through. However, touching these emotions over these past few sessions, you will have insight into how powerful they are in distorting our lens of how we see and feel the world we live in. Extend compassion as you feel the sadness that others are stuck in the cycle of misidentifying themselves with a limited self. BRING MORE JOY, LOVE, WONDER and COURAGE to your life!