Ayya Dhammadipa leads a 12-minute meditation on empathetic joy, also known as mudita. In this practice, we use joy that is sparked by the joy of other beings to radiate this state of mind, allowing the opportunity to go beyond ourselves and into a much vaster space of joyously relating to the world.
This practice is one of the four brahmaviharas, also known as the heavenly dwellings or four immeasurables.
Ayya Dhammadipa Bio
Ayya Dhammadīpā is a Buddhist nun and teacher with a unique background: Before becoming a nun, she got an MBA, worked in investment banking, and was a devoted mother. For twenty years, Ayya Dhammadipa studied in the Zen Buddhist tradition, but now practices the earlier Buddhist lineage of Theravada.
In our last episode’s interview with Ayya Dhammadīpā, she talked about where mindfulness fits into a complete path of self-development, how to balance motherhood with practice, and about the joys of giving and receiving which she writes about in her recent book Gifts Greater Than the Oceans, which is available now freely on her website. Here, she leads a guided meditation on sympathetic joy. You can learn more about her online community and offerings at Dassanaya.org.
Ayya Dhammadipa Guided Meditation on Empathetic Joy
Really sensing the weight of the body.
Meeting your seat.
From that grounded base, just as best you can, allow the spine to line up and come into an upright position.
Allowing the area around the chest to just soften and widen for this open hearted practice we’re going to do.
And now bringing to mind some kind of image of someone’s joy, or some being experiencing happiness.
Ideally something simple, like the dog wagging its tail or a baby laughing.
Just bringing to mind some image of joy, wholesome joy.
And then beginning to observe whether you feel that joy somewhere in the body.
Maybe it’s a smile or a little twinkle in your eye or some kind of warmth in the belly. Just observing whether you have some kind of sensation when thinking about someone else’s joy.
And if you don’t find it, that’s okay. You can just stay with the image. Just continue to contemplate the joy that you’ve seen.
But if you do find it in the body, then you can begin to gather that energy, that beautiful energy of joy toward your heart center. Sometimes you might even put your hand there, right in the center of your chest.
And you can begin to use the breath, the inhalation, to brighten that energy so that it becomes like a light, a light of joy using each inhalation to brighten that light.
And then allowing that light to just naturally flow in all directions. That’s what it does. It just goes in all directions. So we’re going to brighten that light on the in-breath and we’re going to let it flow outward on the out-breath.
That light of empathetic joy, just getting a little brighter with each breath, flowing a little further with each breath.
Imagining that light getting brighter with the inhalation.
And flowing outward with each inhalation. Exhale.
And just returning to the image.
If you lose the thread, then again finding the energy of it and allowing it to become bright.
Brightening with the inhalation and flowing with the exhalation.
No need to strain or push in any way.
That light of joy is just naturally immeasurable.
Imagining that light flowing in front of you, flowing boundlessly to the left of you.
Flowing behind you.
Flowing to the right of you.
Then flowing up through your body and above you.
And down through your body and beneath you.
And that brings us to a close. That was your practice of mudita, empathetic joy.
To get a free copy of Ayya Dhammadipa’s book, Gifts Greater Than the Oceans: Benefits of the Buddhist Practice of Giving and learn more about becoming involved in her community, visit her website at dassanaya.org.
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