Walking in Central Park this morning, I came across a Springer spaniel who was having the time of her life. I watched her run full tilt here and there, sometimes chasing a squirrel, sometimes a bird, but mostly just running full out. Every so often, she would orient to her human companions and then take off again. It was clear that she was experiencing complete delight and I noticed that my body resonated with her and also filled up with a sense of freedom and delight. I wish I had a video of her to share, as it was one of the most exuberant expressions of pure enjoyment I’ve seen in a long time.
Noticing how energized, enlivened, and filled up my body and psyche felt as I watched this sweet earth-kin enjoy herself, the experience got me to thinking about how important this kind of nourishment is for the well-being of our entire body-mind being. I often feel delight when watching the three felines who live with me, as they engage in their own forms of play and discovery. I also touch into this experience at times when watching animal videos on Facebook.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to explore how you bring delight into your life, to review sources of delight that you have access to, and to notice how often you give yourself moments like this. The next time you discover that you are in the presence of something that elicits delight, take time to notice what happens in your body. Track the sensations in you that naturally arise when you are in the presence of delight. If you discover sensations that enliven or nourish you in some way, linger with them, take them all the way in. Also notice what arises in your thoughts and emotions when you experience delight. Just as with your physical sensations, be sure to offer yourself time to truly take in your emotional response to delight and the quality and tone of your thoughts when you resonate with that experience.
If you’re having a hard time or wrestling with difficult or challenging emotions right now, be sure to offer yourself compassion and a gentle holding space. There are times when delight just isn’t a quality you can resonate with and, when that’s the case, it’s deeply important to be kind to yourself. These practices come with absolutely no “shoulds”, only with invitations to explore possible experiences…
As with all these practices, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion, as curiosity opens us up to experience and discovery. Also, please remember that if any judgments may arise to pat them gently on the head and allow them to move on by without your having to do anything with or about them right now. And, as always, be sure to make room for mixed feelings because we are, after all, beings of wholeness and can’t necessarily legislate which of our feelings pop into the foreground of awareness in any given moment. What we can do is meet ourselves with kindness and gentle presence.
Here’s the audio version of this practice if you’d rather listen to it. Also, please remember never to listen to guided audio meditations while driving or using dangerous machinery.