Awakening Joy is more than just another book about happiness. More than simply offering suggested strategies to change our behavior, it uses time-tested practices to train the mind to learn new ways of thinking. The principles of the course are universal, although much of the material includes Buddhist philosophy drawn from the author’s thirty years as a Buddhist meditation teacher and spiritual counselor.
In these times of economic uncertainty Awakening Joy shows we can get through hard times and use our experience to keep the our heart open while moving from discouragement to well-being, regardless of the external circumstances. Genuine well-being is not expensive. True happiness is not about acquiring anything, but rather about opening to the natural joy and aliveness right inside you.
In this practical down-to-earth guide, readers will learn how to
• make happiness a habit by inclining your mind toward states that lead to well-being
• find joy, even during difficult times, and avoid the pitfalls that prevent you from achieving the contentment you seek
• cultivate effective practices for sustaining joyfulness, such as reclaiming your natural sense of wonder and finding joy in the midst of everyday experiences.
Each chapter of Awakening Joy consists of one of the steps in Baraz’s ten-step program and includes engaging exercises and practical advice to make happiness your natural default setting. For everyone from the cynic who is despondent over life’s many sorrows, to the harried commuter raging at freeway traffic, this book offers up a simple yet powerful message of hope grounded in the realization that joy already exists inside every one of us. Like a precious child, it only needs to be recognized, embraced, and nurtured in order to grow to its full potential.
James Baraz has been a meditation teacher since 1978. In 2003 he created the Awakening Joy course, which he has taught at the Omega Institute, Esalen Institute, and other venues across the United States and abroad. He is co-founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Canter in Woodacre, California, where he started the Family Program and author, with Shoshana Alexander, of Awakening Joy, the book based on the course. He is an advisor the One Earth Sangha a forum devoted to wise responses to climate change. Earlier in his life, James was an elementary school teacher for 12 years mostly in Astoria, Queens. James lives in Berkeley, California with his wife, Jane. He has two sons and three grandchildren.
Shoshana Tembeck Alexander has studied Buddhism since the early 1970s and is the author of In Praise of Single Parents and Women’s Ventures, Women’s Visions. She has guided the work of several prominent Buddhist authors, including Tara Brach, Sharon Salzberg, and Wes Nisker. She lives in Ashland, Oregon.