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Finding A Path to Happiness


Volume (4) |Episode (17)
January 1, 2018

Host: Sheryl Glick R.M.T.
Special Guest: Joseph Emet

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In today’s episode of Healing From Within, your host Sheryl Glick author of The Living Spirit which shares our transformation journey through spiritual awakenings, spiritual communication healing energies miracles and finding the truth of our true human and divine connections, welcomes Joseph Emet author of Finding the Blue Sky who will share his journey towards happiness through the Buddhist path of mindfulness which guides us on a path to knowing ourselves, the Universe, and the gift of life with clarity and gratitude.

Joseph Emet, the founder of the Mindfulness Meditation Centre in Montreal will share his journey from childhood to his receiving a doctorate in music from Boston University and his training with Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh in France and he has authored several books about sleep, stress reduction, and meditation. We will discuss today how to replace negative thinking with positive thinking…how to move from frenzied thinking to quiet contemplation, and the duty we have to others to live a happy life.

Joseph tells us what inspired him to write Finding the Blue Sky. He writes, “Some learn happiness at home from their parents as part of their upbringing. I didn’t. My home was not a happy place. My first encounter with happiness came from the home of my best friend my school buddy. I spent as much time as I could there. As I note in the book, some of us are wealthy by birth—we are born into wealthy families. Others become wealthy by dint of hard work. This is also true of Happiness: and I belong to the second group. In Finding the Blue Sky, I chronicle how I stumbled onto the Buddhist path of mindfulness, which guides us on a path to happiness.”

Joseph goes on to say…”For most of us, our ingrained patterns of thinking are who we are. If there is some deep-rooted negativity there, positivity may at first seem strange—like some sort of a put on. The first step is to get some perspective, some detachment or distancing from the voice of the brain. Meditation fosters this attitude. In meditation we learn to listen to the promptings of the brain as some sort of background noise like the radio. The idea is the mind is more than the thoughts and feelings that pass through it, just like the sky is more than the clouds. The sky contains many things—clouds for sure, but also stars, mosquitoes, smog, and most importantly, the sun. In meditation we sit and watch the mind—it is like being a sky-watcher. Meditation is a struggle until this attitude is established. And this attitude is the prelude to change.

Often we think that outside circumstances are the causes of our happiness or unhappiness. If this were true, there would be a straight correlation between factors such as income, a good job, and even good health. On the one hand, a sense of happiness—and all sense of mystery surrounding happiness would disappear. But there is no such correlation Outside factors do play a role but only up to a point. Once the person is past the threshold of misery and dire need, the role of outside considerations rapidly diminish. Then “inside” or mental factors play the larger role. Mindfulness provides a method for investigating these systematically by becoming aware of our thoughts, mental states, and habits of mind.

Sheryl says to Joseph “In my book The Living Spirit, I express this idea this way and write….Once when engaging in a reading for my granddaughter Samantha, I received an impression showing her holding a dandelion seed pod that forms after the flower fades. As she was blowing the white poof particles into the wind after making a wish, I asked her what her wish was but she said she wasn’t sure. Soon after this a friend recommended to me Dr. Wayne Dyer’s new children’s book, I Am.” I came to a page that was the exact image I received for Samantha with the dandelion. The text accompanying the drawing said, “ Along the way you will find great happiness and love, and you’ll learn that wishes come true from within , not above.” A week later at a playground Samantha called out to me with a smile as she was flying high in the sky… I just want to be happy. It seemed she had made her wish.” Joseph then said to Sheryl that as a loving grandmother she was showing her granddaughter how to look beyond the world offering her happiness to find the happiness already within. It was a compliment that Sheryl was very surprised but grateful to hear.

We also have many ways of preventing not only our own happiness, but also the happiness of people around us. We do not recognize that sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing. We interfere, we try to control, we criticize, we are restless. We buy items we do not need: we do not know when enough is enough and get into debt needlessly, we drink too much or eat too much and suffer the consequences. Perhaps the common factor behind all this is that we fail to self-regulate. An out of control adult, manager, presidential candidate, husband or wife is just as problematic as an out of control teenager…often more so. Serenity meditation helps us to develop a peaceful mind. It is a good antidote to impulsive or emotional acting out. Serenity meditation helps us recognize our restlessness.

Joseph in sharing his thoughts on how we often prevent our own happiness by Self-sabotage wrote…” We make ourselves our relationships and careers—but we also destroy them. We often mess up our relationships with parents children and siblings. We get jobs, but sometimes we also sabotage the jobs we worked hard to get. We sabotage friendships and we sabotage our own happiness. People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar…..”

Sheryl recognizes that as being the truth and suggests that we are often our own worst enemies, creating suffering which is not our normal state of being which is love, but the choice either to be content and happy, or to suffer needlessly is for each of us to decide. We were not meant to suffer as some religions might suggest…..We may experience sadness, but in dealing with it mindfully, do not need to chose suffering. All events in life are merely part of the human condition which is the same for all of us…We should be encouraged to move past any and all fears and negativity, to happiness and joy.”

Then Sheryl asks Joseph to describe his interpretation of want vs. need. He says, “Simply put, our needs are limited but our wants are limitless. King Solomon had a thousand wives. Was he prompted by need or want? Satisfying our needs makes us contented. Trying to satisfy our wants can make us bankrupt. It make us stressed as we try to juggle three jobs to earn more money. The worst part is that satisfying wants can still leave us discontented. Presumably, Solomon was still discontented after adding No. 999 to his household. Maybe his reputation for wisdom was exaggerated.

The Buddhist tradition is suspicious of wants. It labels them as cravings. This gives them a negative flavor, which prompts us to examine them carefully. Awareness of wants can be a meditation theme. You cannot change from a sugary soft drink to a refreshing glass of water unless you have some clarity between a want and a need. Apply meditation to your everyday life. “What are my real needs”? may be a good theme for a five minute meditation before a trip to the shopping center.

Contemporary culture promote discontentment. Joseph relates that in our culture we make a practice of this with celebrity pages. Those who are genuinely admirable such as the Dali Lama are lumped under the celebrity label together with others who seem to be there just to be envied. Advertising is not much better. There, we have fictional celebrities, anonymous cool looking people driving attractive new cars or wearing attractive clothes. They always have perfect hair and perfect bodies. The thrust of the ad is precisely to create discontent with what we have or what we are. The media people are taking advantage of the old adage that the grass looks greener on the other side. They ruthlessly exaggerate this natural effect with artificial fertilizers, and even spray paint the grass to make it greener. Becoming conscious of our needs and wants offer us a way to make better choices and to appreciate much of what is good in our lives without referring to society’s brand of success.

Joseph tells us a significant change that can make us happier. He tells us to cultivate the garden of your heart. Each of us has a garden in our heart where roses of gratitude, dahlias of contentment, and irises of joy can grow. You probably have some houseplants. Do you keep poison ivy, crabgrass, and thorns at home? Do not keep them in the garden of your heart either. Those noxious plants corresponding to anger, anxiety, and ill will. Whatever seeds you water and fertilize will grow in the garden of your heart just like they will grow in the backyard. You water those metaphorical seeds by bringing them to mind often, and keeping them alive and positive in mind.

Sheryl says… “In my book The Living Spirit, I also address the idea of happiness which I believe is not so much a goal but is a result of a purposeful and healthy life built on a loving soul and energy of cooperation…therefore Happiness is the result and reward of our inner soul efforts to conquer the emotions or lower vibrations that society or our childhood patterning may have encouraged. In order to be happy we also need to know our own self well through self-investigation and self-mastery of our emotions as this process is the key to peace and happiness."

An emotion can happen without our awareness…our heart rate and blood pressure may rise without yet piercing through our awareness to make us feel anger for example… The word feeling refers to the second level when we have a subjective awareness of an emotion. Before this level an emotion may not be articulated or named. Emotions can also turn time into an elastic band an elastic band that shortens when we are having a good time and stretches with impatience or boredom. Becoming aware of our emotional states allows us to see things as they are and the world as it is so we may compensate and adapt to changes.

Steps towards positivity include bringing to mind things to be grateful for, especially at night before going to sleep. Also consider things to hope for, things to be glad about… such as Joy Gratitude Gladness Serenity Interest Engagement Hope Pride: more like self-esteem than haughtiness, Amusement Inspiration Awe or Wonder Love Compassion Friendliness Kindness Sympathy Contentment Confidence Admiration Appreciation.

Hopefully readers will become aware of their emotions and whether they are thinking negatively as based on past experiences, or positively as based on creating an environment where well-being and happiness can reside. I hope people find ways or techniques that help them move from frenzied thinking and the fears of the world to reside in their inner soul wisdom and quiet contemplation. Also I hope readers recognize the duty we have to others to live a happy life. In the sharing of that energy we are all healed.

We have discovered the beauty and importance of our heart essence. When our heart is open we invite others to open up also and discover intimate and loving relationships are not only with other people, but with natureand this affects our level of happiness. As Joseph wrote… “The heart can also open through wisdom. Wisdom points out that I’m woven with the same elements as all other beings. We all have the same challenges and aspirations. I’m not separate from this: I’m not a freak of nature. Much suffering results from creating a gap between us and them, between me and her or him, between pets and farm animals, between the houseplant I care for lovingly and the tree in the forest that I turn into lumber. That tree breathed out the oxygen that I am breathing now. We are literally parts of the same organism…..In the end wisdom and compassion also create each other. If wisdom is not creating compassion, then it is not true wisdom—it has turned into an intellectual game separated from life.”

Joseph Emet and Sheryl, as lovers of music, people, nature, and life would have you remember your soul and heart essence as you focus on doing the right thing for the sheer joy of feeling good and connecting to the here and now. Search for those people and events in life that inspire and assist you in seeing past loss, sickness, old age and death, to promote acceptance and bring your focus into the present moment where life can be felt with happiness.

Joseph Emet

Guest: Joseph Emet