I remember the night it happened. It was just after one of those middle-of-the-night visits to the bathroom. I was half asleep, determined to head back to the cozy comfort of my bed. But something made me stop in the hallway. I turned to look into the living room -- it was bathed in moonlight. Peace flooded this room in a way I had not consciously noticed at any time in the past.
I thought for a minute about how idyllic all the plants looked and was touched by the life they brought to the room. I thought about the many happy times spent here with family and friends. This room was infused with the energy of everything good that had ever happened in it. I was filled not only with love for my home but with a quiet sense of joy.
Home as Haven
There is a sweet hymn I love to sing that begins: "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." During the busy holiday season, we are especially cognizant of the desire for peace on earth.
Let us broaden our perspective now to say that the best way to contribute to our desire for peace on earth is to create it for ourselves, our families and our friends. I think it's also safe to say that it is within the walls of a calm home that joy is most easily experienced.
But if your home is a personal battlefield from the time you open your eyes in the morning until you close them at night, how can you experience peace on earth?
Remember, our environments are far more than physical. Have you ever walked into an exquisitely furnished home and felt instantly unwelcome? Or, entered a modest apartment and never wanted to leave? When you live with order and calm in your environment, you will in turn experience this calm and order in your inner world. Ancient yogis said it best: "As within, so without." Each of us creates her environment in a unique way. And each of us will find joy in highly individual ways. Let's see where the answers to the following questions take you (use a journal if you like).
Part One: What Does Joy Mean to You?
When was the last time you experienced joy in your home? Please be specific.
- Did you delight in organizing a birthday party for a family member?
- Has a day of gardening filled your heart with bliss?
- Did you sing along with a new CD one afternoon when you were alone?
Part Two: Creating the Blueprint for Joy
1. Please make a list of five things about your home that currently bring you joy.
Here are some of my own examples:
- On my patio I have lots of plants. My absolute favorite is a morning glory. When I open the balcony door each summer morning and see those enormous blue (are yours blue?) blossoms, I am filled with joy. Life is manifesting on my balcony!
- Many years ago, a dear friend surprised me with a photograph. She was in her 80s at the time. The photo showed her as a very young woman just beginning her career as a professional opera singer. On it, she inscribed a personal message. I was overwhelmed. She wrote in detail about what our friendship had meant to her. Today, long after her passing, this photo is one of my treasured possessions.
Do you have a photo hidden in a drawer that would bring joy to your heart if you could see it every day?
2. After you create your inventory of what currently brings you joy, let's make a second list. What could you start doing to bring joy into your home?
Here are some suggestions:
- Buy some flowers for the dining room table. Or, pick a bouquet from your own garden!
- Go through your cookbooks and make a special meal tonight. Yes, even if you live alone. Eat off your best dishes!
- Pick up that book you have been meaning to read and settle into a cozy corner for an hour or two. Or, go and buy a new book.
- Invite some friends over for a potluck. Ask them to bring their favorite childhood dish. At dinner have each guest share a secret anecdote from her childhood.
- Go to a nursery and bring home a plant. They fill an empty space with life. Plants are also an important tool of feng shui. They can be used to revitalize the prosperity, relationship and family areas of your home.
The Gift of Joy
As you experience joy in your home, be conscious of the gift it represents. Think of those who suffer in the world and have no source of joy. Here's an idea for a special holiday meditation. Bring a group to mind and consciously send them the joy in your heart. The greatest weapon in the war for peace is love. And joy is one of its sweetest manifestations.