Even the idea of sitting in meditation can spark discomfort – imaginations of an achy body, restless mind, challenging emotions… Thich Nhat Hahn  offers an alternative. Just taking our seat, he posits, is an opportunity to arrive into joy.

“When you sit, sit in such a way that you feel you have already arrived. To sit doesn’t mean to struggle. When you sit, sit so that sitting becomes an arrival into the present moment. Enjoy your arrival. How wonderful to have arrived. How wonderful to feel that you are home, that your true home is in the here and the now. Sitting like that, joy and peace become a reality. You radiate this joy and peace and it benefits everyone around you.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Sit

Below are four simple, and FUN, meditations to further support arrivals into joy (one sitting, three informal.)

Sitting Joy Meditation (3 minutes or longer)

  • Settle into a comfortable shape on a cushion or chair. Soften gaze or close eyes. Allow your breath to help shift awareness inwards. Feel into any sensations of ease, even if just in a fingertip.
  • Bring to mind the image of you or someone else laughing or giggling. What do you notice in your body? Can you feel the energy of smile or laughing in your mouth? Eyes? Belly? Other areas?
  • Then bring to mind something that gives you joy. You might love gardening, voices of loved ones, the sight of a bounding puppy… Whatever your focus, notice what you feel in body. Warmth, refreshingness, radiance, calm? No right or wrong, simply get curious.
  • When you’re ready, gently open eyes, stretch your body, and perhaps smile.

Three Informal Joy Meditations

  • Take a walk, keeping your eye out for things that make you smile.
  • Park yourself in a park. Notice people and animals clearly having fun doing something simple. Holding them in awareness, notice the sensations arising in your own body.
  • Journal about a recent experience that made you happy, or when you felt really happy for someone else (known in Buddhism as mudita, or sympathetic joy.) What do you feel inside while reflecting?

Looking for places where you can explore arriving into joy this summer? Check these out.


Posted by: Ashley Dahl, MSW, CMT-P (she/her pronouns) / Executive Director

Neighborhood Studios