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Natural Awakenings Richmond

From The Publisher

Photo credit: Kim Lee Photography

Dear Reader,

These past few months have been unpredictable and unforgettable on multiple levels. They have been filled with discomfort and change and learning that has shifted so many of us outside of our comfort zones; and more recently, discovering that being uncomfortable is where the learning really begins. We are finally waking up to the work that needs to be done to make our communities … this nation … this world a better place for us all. We need to speak out against injustice. Post, protest, donate, educate yourself, have the difficult conversations … do something. Show up and make a difference. It’s time. No, it’s past time. I hope you’ll join me.

And while we are busy doing this important work, we must do all we can to stay healthy and well-rested. We are still in the middle of a pandemic. Self-care has to be a priority. In the pages within this magazine, you will find articles and resources to help you care for your body, mind and spirit. Sometimes it is a matter of finding joy in the small things and taking a few moments each day tending to our own happiness. Marlaina Donato, author of Spiritual Famine in the Age of Plenty: Baby Steps to Bliss, explains this well in her article “Feeding Joy”:

Our four-legged friends—from pampered pooch to stray cat—have the inborn ability to seize the moment. No matter what chaotic circumstances may swirl around them, they have a knee-jerk response to spring into playful action or curl up in a patch of inviting sunlight.

As humans, we tend to postpone the smallest of joys and avoid emotional self-care, opting for that extra glass of wine or spending more than usual to feel better for a brief period of time. Tending to our own happiness begins by seeing joy not as a mood dependent upon circumstances, but as a spiritual discipline like any other. Emotional well-being is a garden we must weed and water daily and in turn, our physical health can’t help but be well-nourished by the harvest. Studies through the years have shown that certain sites and organs in the body, including the thymus, immune cells and bone marrow, have receptors for neurotransmitters like serotonin, which could explain why cultivating contentment might boost our natural defenses.

Seasoned yogis and meditators often speak of an inner wellspring of joy that can be accessed through a committed practice. Perhaps joy is less of a mood and more of a frequency that is accessible to all of us when we’re willing to align with its bandwidth. Making it a habit to step outside for 10 minutes to witness a sunset or greet the twilight while dinner cooks can be a beautiful way to advance felicity.

Taking five-minute joy breaks during the workday to listen to a favorite piece of music with earbuds, read a few pages of an inspiring book or notice the clouds is another easy way to tend to happiness. Filling a “joy jar” with lovely memories written on scraps of colorful paper can prompt a spontaneous smile any time of day. Taking a half-hour drive on a pretty back road instead of scrolling through social media can reset depleted emotional reserves.

Today, we can shift our thinking and see contentment as a precious, deserving loved one that needs nourishment like any other. Feeding joy in our lives can pave the daily humdrum road with jewels. In the end, perhaps fostering inner happiness by example is the greatest legacy we can leave behind.