Sad Joy.

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From an Open Heart.

The sun has found new angles to stream into my bedroom. This means a new season is on its way. I live in a ground floor apartment in the back of the building with windows that view a quiet courtyard. As fall approaches the sun is lower in the sky and the sun’s rays have a chance to poke through the two narrow slots on either side of the building across from the courtyard. I never do get a whole lot of sunlight in my apartment, but as the cold weather approaches the light gets less and less. When it does find its way into my bedroom, I know that my room was graced with warmth and life even when I am not there.

There is something sad and joyful in the change of season. We let go of hot sticky nights, warm toes in the sand, cold watermelon dripping down our chins. We welcome layering sweaters, steamy bowls of soup, noses red from running outside in the foliage.

I spent the last week of August in Red Feather Lakes, CO about two hours northwest of Denver attending a meditation retreat with Acharyas Pema Chodron, Gaylon Ferguson, and Adam Lobel. When I arrived it was as hot as summer could get and by the last day, September 1, the temperature was in the low 60’s. As we said our goodbyes to each other that fresh sunny morning, there was a palpable sad joy.

Ani Pema Chodron spoke about sad joy. She explained that joy comes after sadness. We need to go through the sad part gently, awake, and present to allow the heart to break open. From the open heart the joy flows out. This is how we cultivate a tender heart. She reminded us that if we skip this process, joy is brittle and full of fear.

When we soften our attitude or position we cultivate a tender heart. We become less fixed on having things turn out our way and begin to open to uncertainty. It’s this softness that gives us courage and strength, not tight fists and absolutes. Sad joy is goodbyes and hellos, winning and losing, deaths and births. This is the beauty of being alive, laughing until you cry or crying until you laugh.

We become open to the tender heart through the process of meditation, sitting quietly and still, observing the breath, training the mind. It’s no picnic or day at the beach, but the benefits are beyond words. Two weeks after my return from retreat, I am feeling the bliss from this concentrated and disciplined time I spent on my cushion. I kept waiting to write about my experience until it felt organic. I feel different. Many years of 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there on my cushion has added up like money in the bank of freedom. Not monetary freedom, but a freedom from a cluttered, confused mind, allowing for space and clarity. I know that I can’t hold onto this state of being, as this is fluid, too. There is sad joy in everything.

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About Kim Stetz

Kim Stetz aka spiritual gangster lives in NYC. Like Ben Franklin, she goes to bed early, wakes up early, is healthy, spiritually wealthy and questionably wise. Kim teaches yoga, meditation, and offers holistic health coaching guiding people towards living their authentic joyful lives. You can find Kim on Facebook or her website. To never miss a post subscribe.


8 Responses to “Sad Joy.”

  1. Dylan says:

    Sad Joy, here you come
    like the change of seasons but
    minus Hot Cider

  2. Reader says:

    I read this when it was first posted. Coming back to it now, rereading it, it brought tears to my eyes. Things have changed though, and i'm in the sadness. Opening up to uncertainty is scary, so is letting go, but interestingly enough as I do these things – no matter how uncertain – I feel stronger than I did trying to hold on. I don't know if that makes sense. Thanks for writing this. You should write more!

    • Kim Stetz says:

      Hi Reader,
      Thank you, and yes, I would like to write more. I am reposting this today as I just noticed the sunlight in my bedroom. The light is so different in September, and the weather in NYC is just the best time of year. September is a month to reflect on Sad Joy.

  3. Hello my loved one! I wish to say that this article is awesome, nice written and include almost all vital infos. I would like to see extra posts like this .

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