For me, the best thing about the Holy-days is the feeling of joy and peace that comes when everyone drops their worldly worries and ambitions, drops the striving and the responsibilities, and for a few days just focuses on getting together with loved ones, giving gifts, sharing food, playing games, and relaxing. Even if you spend the holidays alone, as I have done when on retreat, there is a noticeable feeling of peaceful joyousness in the atmosphere, especially on Christmas Day when most people are off work. Here is a Buddhist meditation that is all about building and sharing joy.
Spreading Joy Meditation
Sit down comfortably, preferably in a meditation pose that keeps your back straight. Breathe gently into your heart space and simply think the word “Joy.” Repeat “joy” gently to yourself, over and over, and you will find images come into your awareness of things and people and times that are joyous for you. Everyone is a little different, but many of the things that evoke joy are universal: a sunny day, a bright blue sky, birdsong, seeing a loved one after an absence, a starry night over snowy fields, the laughter of children, the playfulness of puppies and kittens. Whatever evokes joy for you, focus on this and allow the feeling of joyousness in your heart to expand into your whole body. A smile comes onto your lips, and you feel a subtle lightening in your whole being. Now, think of those closest to you, the people and animals who live in your house or who naturally come to mind when you think of closeness, and send them joy. Imagine them happy and peaceful and joyous, going about their days. Now, expand that feeling out to everyone who lives in your neighborhood, and then to everyone in your town or county. Visualize everyone happy and smiling, perhaps momentarily surprised by a sudden feeling of joy. Then spread this abundant joy out to the whole country, and then to the whole continent, and then to the whole world, and then to the galaxy, and then to all the galaxies. Rejoice in the joy of all beings everywhere. Finally, dedicate the merit, which means offer up the good that comes from your meditation to all beings, everywhere.
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