"I believe every person wants to be happy. At the core all our actions are motivated by a longing for genuine well-being. However, our roadmap to real happiness is often obscured by conditioned habits of mind activated by fear, anxiety and stress that don’t serve us. These negative patterns of thought result in beliefs and actions that often lead to more suffering and confusion.
We can change these patterns with practices that support and develop natural wholesome states like kindness, generosity and clarity that lessen our stress and create space in the mind and heart that enable our innate goodness, pure awareness and wisdom to shine through. Being very present for these wholesome states of increases our genuine well-being and joy.
The result is three-fold.: 1) We understand how we cause suffering for ourselves and hold that conditioning with wise compassion. 2) Instead of reacting unskillfully when life becomes challenging in some way, we can respond with greater wisdom. 3) And our well-being and joy both feel good internally and also have the capacity to awaken those qualities in others around us. So our own well-being becomes a gift to everyone we meet." ~ James Baraz
James Baraz has been teaching meditation since 1978 and the Awakening Joy course since 2003. He leads retreats, workshops and classes in the U.S. and abroad and is a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. James is co-author with Shoshana Alexander of Awakening Joy, a new book based on the course. In addition, James is on the International Advisory Board of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. He lives with his wife in the Bay Area, has two sons and three grandchildren.