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Meditation….I’m so happy for you!

The antidote for envy is something called “sympathetic joy.”

At one time or another we have all known feelings of envy. Some people are for the most part relatively untroubled by this emotion. For others the feeling is so persistently present that it darkens the experience of everyday living. All of us experience it to some degree from time to time.

Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg advises learning to rejoice in the good fortune of others—cultivating what she calls “sympathetic joy”—as a way of counteracting feelings of envy.

“Learn to rejoice in the good fortune of others,” she writes, “and your own happiness multiplies.”

There are a number of ways of achieving this, she writes, one of which is through meditation.

Sitting comfortably with your eyes closed, silently recite your intention to rejoice in the happiness of others. Phrases often used are “May your happiness and good fortune not diminish. May they increase further and further.” You can offer the phrases to different people in your life, one by one. Start with someone you care about. After a few minutes, switch your attention to a person you’re not as close to. Then focus on someone who’s having a hard time. Compassion for her pain can open your heart, and celebrating even the small degree of happiness she might feel can help both of you. End the meditation by offering the phrases in a global way: “May the happiness and good fortune of all increase further and further.” As the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet puts it, there are so many people in this world, it simply makes sense to make their happiness a source of our own. Then our chances of experiencing joy “are enhanced six billion to one,” he says. Those are very good odds.

Your reflections are welcome. Please LEAVE A COMMENT below. You can find my weekly blogpost (and meditation archive) on Patch easily anytime. Just click Local Voices on your Patch home page and SEARCH LOCAL VOICES.  

Rabbi Mark Sameth is the spiritual leader of Joyful Judaism: Pleasantville Community Synagogue an inclusive, progressive synagogue—with members from twenty towns, villages and cities all across Westchester and “A Hebrew School Your Kids Can Love.” Read The New York Times article. Weekly meditation at the synagogue every Saturday morning at 9 am is open to the public. Everyone—without exception—is welcome and warmly invited. The next SYNAGOGUE OPEN HOUSE WEEKEND—with activities for children and adults alike—will be Friday April 27 through Sunday April 29.

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