What is mudita?
Mudita (मुदिता), altruistic joy, is the third quality of the heart. A full blossoming joy, awakened by the joy of others.
Like the first two heart-qualities, it has a warm and loving vibration. The first heart quality, loving kindness, exists in a neutral surrounding. Compassion, the second heart quality, arises in a surrounding of suffering. And mudita, one can cultivate in a joyful environment. Also in a joyful environment, it can be a challenge to stay lovingly present.
Opposites and false friends of altruistic joy
Jealousy or envy can be lurking and these are also the opposite of altruistic joy, just like you rejoice in the misfortune of others. Another counterpart is clinging to the moments of joy. Then one cannot fully enjoy it because of the controlling aspect in it; the wish to control your life. This clashes with the free energy of full joy.
What may look like altruistic joy but it is not, is hypocrisy: a played ‘joy’ as a strategy, or joy if you benefit from the joy of the other person.
Altruistic joy is a full-blown joy for others. It has a great vitality, a high vibration that you can perceive in your body. It gives enthusiasm and you also make endorphins (a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good).
The beauty of this heart quality is that one can take daily life as a starting point (just like with compassion). As a result, it places you in the middle of life.
Although daily life is the entrance, the practice of altruistic joy is also seen as an entrance to a pure joy within yourself, independent of the circumstances.
In any case, it is independent of your own circumstances – even if your life is tough (or perhaps just then) you can cultivate altruistic joy. It is focusing and co-resonating with the joy of others.
Take the time to feel the vibration of a full-blown joy with an open and present heart. And then, stay present in this joy – don’t let judgments or other feelings come in.
Only this: the full-blown joy evoked by the joy of someone else….. Splendid.
Like all heart meditations, mindfulness and presence are required.
Naturally, ‘non-judgment’ is also one of the aspects. Because if one judge someone’s success, one cannot experience the full-blown joy.
It helps to focus on appreciation; on the good in the other (especially if you do the meditation with someone in mind whom you find difficult), because then the feeling of altruistic joy can come up more easily. So keep your eye on the goodness out there (in the other).
There are many different mudita meditations. A traditional one is:
- Sit comfortably, extend your spine and follow your breath for a few minutes.
- Take someone in mind who experiences joy. Start with a neutral person, later you can also take loved ones, people you find difficult or yourself, and radiate altruistic joy to everyone / everything / all.
- When you can see the person clearly (and with a smiling face) or when you clearly experience the energy / atmosphere of the person, you can repeat the following sentences with full attention:
- May you be in joy
- May you continue your joy
- May you appreciate your joy
- I am happy for you
- Say the sentences with the intention of opening your heart. Find a pleasant rhythm in the sentences, stay with your full attention and of course
- bring your attention back as soon as you notice that it was partly somewhere else.
Variations: If the other person does not experience joy, you can also do the meditation with a moment from the past in which the person was joyful, or with a projected image in the future in which you picture the person joyful again.
Cultivating altruistic joy in daily life
In addition to the meditations you can also cultivate altruistic joy in daily life.
- Be happy for someone who smiles, notice when someone is happy.
- Pay attention to joy when you see it and let your heart resonate. Be present, mindful and in the moment, without judging.
- In addition, you can also pay attention to what makes you happy:
- perhaps a beautiful flower that comes up in the spring,
- the beautiful colors of autumn,
- a cup of coffee or tea in the morning,
- the sight of a cat lying asleep in the sun, enjoying life …
- if you are aware, there are countless moments in which you can cultivate altruistic joy
Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today,
I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner
and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realized
I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile,
then I realized its worth.
A single smile, just like mine
could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin,
don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic quick,
and get the world infected!
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