Breathing in, I calm my body; Joy is much bigger than happiness

We celebrate the lives of two great leaders, Thich Nhat Hahn and Desmond Tutu, who each walked a path grounded in spirituality and dedicated themselves to human rights and peace.


We can reflect upon their teachings and wisdom. Thich Nhat Hahn, beloved Buddhist monk and peace activist, noted this meditation in his book, Peace is Every Step.

Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment!


Archbishop Desmond Tutu, leader for justice in South Africa, centered his life work on human rights and offering ways for countries to rebuild peacefully after civil conflicts and oppression. This quote captured my mind, from The Book of Joy (a conversation with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu by Douglas Abrams):

Joy is much bigger than happiness. While happiness is often seen as being dependent on external circumstance, joy is not.


I see these contemplative practices in relation to each other. When we pause to reflect upon the breath and the present moment, we can access our inner joy. Joy comes from a place within us.


It can seem difficult to access wonder and joy in the midst of stress, fear, disappointment, and anger, which float heavy in the air of our confusing world and as we are part of the world, inside us too. But the joy and wonder does not go away. It is still inside you. Maybe sometimes it takes one breath to remember, one short meditation. Other times it takes a lot more practice than one breath or one moment! But this is why we practice meditation, yoga, breath work -- each time we practice, we sit closer to the joy and wonderment, and it becomes more frequently within reach. Practices build our resilience, brick by brick.

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