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James Baraz (Part 1) - Awakening Joy: Life Skills for Living, Loving, Enjoying, and Serving Life to the Full
Episode 466th October 2022 • Deep Transformation • Deep Transformation Podcast
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Ep. 46 (Part 1 of 3) | “Don’t miss it!” says James Baraz, author of Awakening Joy and creator of the very intriguing 5-month Awakening Joy course. “Don't miss it'' refers to the present moment—the gladness, the beauty, the uniqueness. James explains that in order to awaken our joy, we need to savor the wholesome moments and not turn away distracted, slipping back into our habitual mental ruts. James’ teachings take us deeply into states like gratitude and compassionate presence, to where we can focus our attention on how it feels to feel good somatically, thereby creating new neural pathways that strengthen awareness and aliveness. James has witnessed a lot of people learn to love themselves and turn their lives around as a result of this teaching. Why are we the last ones to see the goodness inside ourselves? he wonders. How can we so radically underestimate ourselves? 

Rest in the landscape of gratitude when James guides a short meditation in part 2, and be inspired that transformational change is indeed possible for all of us—to where we can know the joy of loving ourselves, of connecting with others, the joy of letting go, of service, and the joy of simply being—as we undertake the fundamental experiment of discovering who we really are. Recorded September 14, 2022.

“A simple shift of perspective is transformative.”

(For Apple Podcast users, click here to view the complete show notes on the episode page.)

Topics & Time Stamps - Part 1

  • Roger introduces James Baraz, creator of the Awakening Joy course and dedicated Vipassana meditation teacher (01:31)
  • What is it like witnessing so many people in the midst of their transformation? To James, all are bodhisattvas in training and there’s nothing quite like seeing people transforming their pain (04:27)
  • We are the last ones to see the goodness inside us, to see who we really are, we need to see ourselves through our friends’ eyes! (09:04)
  • How can we avoid feeling righteous anger towards people we see as ignorant, who seem to be living in a world of alternate facts? (11:20)
  • Anyone can change and learn how much better it is to love than to hate—though the intention to change is key (22:02)
  • Recognizing we are divine expressions of life with an innate inner goodness (24:50)
  • How can we be the one mistake? How can we so radically underestimate ourselves? (29:14)
  • Look in the mirror, look deeply, and see who you really are (30:30)
  • Opening to pain, metabolizing grief: Awakening Joy is not a feel-good program, it’s a feel-everything program (33:52)
  • With the right tools, we can integrate our pain and the pain of the world; we need to practice grief together as a sacred act (36:51) 
  • Awareness heals; whatever part of you you’re not willing to embrace will run your life (39:49)

Resources & References - Part 1

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Being Here Now: A 2-Day Online Celebration of Ram Dass, November 5-6, 2022

With Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Krishna Das, Sharon Salzberg, Trudy Goodman, Mirabai Bush, Jai Uttal, East Forest, Debra Chamberlin-Taylor, James Baraz, and others. For more information and to register, click here:


Brahma Vihara 4-week Online Course, Tuesdays, November 1-22, 2022 6:30-8:30pm PT

Four Buddhist Heart Practices (Brahma Viharas): Loving-kindness, Compassion, Joy, and Equanimity, taught by James Baraz. Formal meditation instructions for developing each of these qualities along with talks on how to apply them in our lives. For more information and to register, click here:


5-Month Awakening Joy Course, January 31-June 6, 2023

For information about the 5-month course and James Baraz’ teaching schedule, click here:


James Baraz has been teaching mindfulness meditation for over 40 years in the U.S. and internationally, and is a founding teacher of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center. James has been leading the online course Awakening Joy since 2003 and is co-author of Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to Happiness and Awakening Joy for Kids. He also serves as a guiding teacher to One Earth Sangha, a Virtual EcoDharma Center devoted to Buddhist responses to Climate Change.

Mind Our Democracy is a new project/movement to help meditation, yoga, and other spiritual students navigate these perilous and fraught times with engagement, wisdom, and heart. It's completely non-partisan, encouraging folks to vote for compassion, kindness, and inclusivity in this pivotal moment. Visit the website to see the inspiring video with Jack Kornfield, Tara Brach, Seane Corn, and other leaders, as well as a set of resources to inspire civic engagement within contemplative communities like yours. Then join our movement and share it with others.


Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell