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Learn more about spiritual practices for your journey through Mary Ann and Fred's weekly newsletter.

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Spiritual Practices:



Featured Resource: In Finding Deep Joy, Robert Elwood uses Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Sufi wisdom to flush out the multidimensional nature of the spiritual practice of joy. It can be appreciated in physical movement, life energy, sense awareness, memory and mind, and spontaneousness.

Other books on joy's bounties:

The Happiness Makeover: M.J. Ryan presents a salutary look at practices and mind-training exercises that can be used to achieve happiness.

Happiness: Joan Duncan Oliver covers a broad range of material in her quest to understand the elusive bluebird of happiness.

How to Live in the World and Still Be Happy: Hugh Prather presents spiritual practices for battling negative mindsets and tapping into inner peace as a path to joy.

The Path to Tranquility: His Holiness the Dalai Lama reveals the spiritual practices that are behind his remarkable and genuine smile.

Joy, Inspiration, and Hope: Verena Kast, a psychologist, offers insights into the emotions of elation — joy, inspiration, and hope.

Soul Judaism: Wayne Dosick sees Jewish renewal as a process of dancing with God.

Jewish Tales of Mystic Joy: Yitzhak Buxbaum shares wonderful stories about the ecstatic devotion to God of the Hasidic teachers, expressed through singing, dancing, and even somersaults.

Simple Living: Jose Hobday draws upon her Native American tradition in this book of practical spirituality that encourages moving through life lightly, delighting in the plain and the subtle.

I Hear God Laughing: Daniel Ladinsky's versions of the Persian poetry of Sufi mystic Hafiz emphasize love, devotion, and joy.

Clowning in Rome: Henri J. M. Nouwen emphasizes the four clown-like elements in the spiritual life.

Zen Fables for Today: Richard McLean accentuates humor as one of the central aspects of Zen.

Gesundheit!: Patch Adams hurrahs laughter as a major therapeutic tool.

Finding a Joyful Life in the Heart of Pain: Darlene Cohen maps the path to a joyful life for those hobbled by chronic pain.

The Courage to Laugh: Allan Klein, who calls himself a "jollytologist" shows how humor can be an uplifting and healing spiritual resource for those hobbled by illness, grief, or depression.

Joy, No Matter What: Carolyn Hobbs Examines pathways and obstacles to the state of joy.

Availability: Robert Wicks ponders the joy of serving others.

Poverty and Joy: William J. Short salutes Francis of Assisi's infectious joy.

Learning to Fly: Sam Keen describes the joy he experiences on the trapeze.

Sweat Your Prayers: Gabrielle Roth believes that sweating our prayers while dancing is an outward manifestation of inner joy.

Search for all books about joy.


Children's Books

I'm in Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor with pictures by Peter Parnall will inspire you to create your own holidays. "Last year I gave myself one hundred and eight celebrations — besides the ones that they close school for," says the girl in this delightful children's book. She keeps a notebook where she records her celebrations: Dust Devil Day, Rainbow Celebration Day, Green Cloud Day, Coyote Day, and The Time of Falling Stars. Her very own New Year Celebration comes in the spring when her favorite cactus blooms and "makes me think I ought to bloom myself" she spends a day "admiring things."

This celebratory spirit is also characteristic of another book by the same creative duo, Baylor and Parnallī's The Way to Start A Day. The narrator recommends greeting the sun each morning with a blessing, chant, or song — an act that joins you to people of all times and all cultures.

Here are more books to draw children into the practice of joy:

Lara's First Christmas: Alice O. Howell tells a charming tale about the opening of a little girl's heart to joy.
Augustus and His Smile: Catherine Rayner offers a delightful story about a tiger on a quest to find his lost smile and his joy.
Hanukkah Haiku: Harriet Ziefert combines Haiku poetry with exquisite paintings by Karla Gudeon to make the celebration of Hanukkah a total joy.


Book Excerpts

Fred Luskin and Kenneth Pelletier chart the physical and emotional benefits of smiling.

• Buddhist teacher Thubten Chodron praises the practice of rejoicing in the good fortune of others.

David Spangler heralds joy as the creative, unconditional force that emanates from the heart of the Beloved.

Rabbi David A. Cooper suggests practices of joy that can nourish the soul and lighten the heart.

Joan Duncan Oliver explores some of the sources of happiness.


Teaching Stories

Every religious tradition encourages us to be joyful and celebrate. Here are examples:

• In This Is for Everyone: Universal Principles of Healing Prayer and the Jewish Mystics, Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer and Melinda Stengel share a story about how the Baal Shem Tov wanted even his opponents to experience joy.

• Geri Larkin in Tap Dancing in Zen presents a story about why the Dalai Lama laughs so much.

• In Simple Living, Native American teacher Jose Hobday reveals how she came to enjoy applause.

• Victoria Moran in Shelter for the Spirit gives a description of an unusual birthday celebration — for Mozart!


Joy home