What is the Joy of Living?
The Joy of Living is a path of meditation study and practice that can be followed by anyone, regardless of religious or cultural orientation. It was designed by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche to fulfill two primary needs: (1) to offer a comprehensive course of meditation training for those who are interested in learning how to meditate in a secular format, and (2) to provide a grounding in basic meditation principles and practices for those who are interested in formal Buddhist practice.
The goal of this program is to help us discover a lasting contentment that is not subject to the fluctuating conditions of the external world, and to nurture the qualities of wisdom and compassion that naturally manifest from awareness itself. Meditation is taught as a practical tool to explore the landscape of the heart and mind and uncover the richness of the present moment.
The practices taught in the Joy of Living, though rooted in the ancient Buddhist teachings of Tibet, are not religious in nature. They deal with basic functions of the mind, such as mindful awareness and the movements toward happiness and away from suffering. In working with these qualities of mind, we gradually transform our relationship to present–moment experience, learning to approach every thought, feeling, and sensory experience with unconditional warmth and acceptance.
What does the Joy of Living teach?
There are three stages of meditation training in the Joy of Living program. These stages include teachings by Mingyur Rinpoche on the fundamentals of meditation practice, opportunities to deepen one’s practice through group retreat and community events, and resources to learn more and keep the spark of inspiration alive.
Each of the three levels of the Joy of Living program focuses on discovering and nurturing a different quality of present–moment experience.
- In Joy of Living Level I: Calming the Mind, we learn how awareness itself is a source of lasting contentment, and how we can use any experience, even painful feelings and difficult thoughts, as a gateway to inner peace.
- In Joy of Living Level II: Opening the Heart, we see how the simple desires to be happy and free from suffering are rooted in loving–kindness and compassion, and how we can nurture these qualities and extend them to others.
- In Joy of Living Level III: Awakening Wisdom, we learn how rigid beliefs keep us locked in a cycle of dissatisfaction and anxiety, and how relating to things as they actually are, rather than through the distorting lens of preconceived ideas and emotional reactions, can help us discover the basic purity and goodness of our true nature.
What classes and events are available in the Joy of Living program?
There are six opportunities for study and practice available in the Joy of Living program:
- Intro to meditation classes
- Meditation groups
- Meditation workshops
- Weekend practice retreats
- Residential practice retreats
Meditation groups meet regularly to explore Mingyur Rinpoche’s teachings with the support of a community of meditators and the guidance of a comprehensive meditation group curriculum. This curriculum, based on Mingyur Rinpoche’s books, The Joy of Living and Joyful Wisdom, covers the core teachings of the Joy of Living program and includes guided meditations, experiential exercises, and questions that foster group discussion. Sessions are held on a drop–in basis and are offered without charge, though donations are encouraged. There are no prerequisites for attending meditation groups.
Intro to meditation classes provide a brief, accessible way to learn the basics of meditation. Using teachings from Mingyur Rinpoche’s Introduction to Meditation DVD and facilitated by Tergar practice leaders, facilitators, or instructors, these classes welcome participants to the Tergar community and introduce them to the relaxed, spacious approach to meditation taught by Mingyur Rinpoche.
Joy of Living meditation workshops are the heart of the Joy of Living program. With guidance from trained Tergar instructors and facilitators, video teachings by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, and plenty of time for short periods of meditation and group discussion, these weekends provide a rich introduction to the world of meditation. Anyone may attend Joy of Living level I. Those who attend Joy of Living levels II and III must meet certain requirements.
Joy of Living mini–retreats are meant to provide continuing support to those who have participated in Joy of Living meditation workshops and residential retreats. Each session includes video teachings by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche (featuring material that is not shown in Joy of Living meditation workshops), as well as guided meditations, group discussion, and walking meditation. These donation–based drop–in sessions are open to those who have attended the relevant Joy of Living level. A Joy of Living I mini–retreat, for example, may be attended by anyone who has attended a Joy of Living I workshop or residential retreat.
Joy of Living weekend retreats are for those who wish to deepen their meditation through periods of dedicated practice. In contrast to Joy of Living workshops, which focus more on learning how to meditate, weekend retreats provide the space for a further exploration of the practices one has learned. Retreats involve periods of sitting meditation, movement meditation, and short video teachings by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. Meditators may attend one or both days of any given weekend retreat. Some prior experience with meditation is recommended for those who attend.
Joy of Living residential retreats offer a unique opportunity to deepen one’s experience of the Joy of Living teachings in a secluded environment and with the support of a community of meditators. Each retreat includes approximately six to eight hours of formal meditation each day, along with periods of silence, DVD teachings by Mingyur Rinpoche, group discussion, and presentations on the key points of meditation by Tergar instructors. There are no prerequisites for attending a Joy of Living residential retreat.
Is the Joy of Living program available online?
With the launch of the Tergar Learning Community (TLC), students around the world have access to the Joy of Living teachings, events, and resources. In addition to Joy of Living I, II, and III workshops, which are offered as six–week online seminars, there are also be guided meditations and other materials and resources, as well as group forums and various opportunities for meditators to experience the support of a vibrant global community.
TLC is also be a place where Tergar staff and coordinators for local meditation groups can interact with each other in staff–only forums and access planning documents, curriculum materials, and other resources related to the Joy of Living and Path of Liberation programs.
Who teaches Joy of Living programs?
Tergar Meditation Centers and Tergar Meditation Groups are led by trained Tergar staff. Depending on the level of training, group leaders may be
- Practice leaders
Tergar practice leaders are qualified to lead meditation groups, mini–retreats, weekend practice retreats, and Intro to Meditation classes. Practice leaders do not offer formal teachings, but may lead guided meditations, facilitate group discussion, and offer informal instructions on meditation.
Tergar facilitators, in addition to performing the functions outlined above, also play a role in leading Joy of Living meditation workshops. Junior facilitators may assist an instructor or senior facilitator in leading a workshop, while senior facilitators may lead a workshop on their own.
Tergar instructors may perform any of the tasks mentioned above, in addition to offering formal teachings on topics related to the Joy of Living, Path of Liberation, and Buddhist Studies programs.
In certain cases, Mingyur Rinpoche himself may lead groups, workshops, or retreats.
What materials and resources are available for those following the Joy of Living program?
Tergar International continues to develop a wide array of A/V materials to support those who follow the Joy of Living program, some of which are freely available on the Tergar Learning Community and some of which are available for sale at the Tergar online store. These materials include DVD and CD teachings by Mingyur Rinpoche and other teachers, books and transcripts of important teachings, articles and recommended reading lists, and guided meditations for use in daily practice. Student handbooks and staff manuals are also available for the Joy of Living program.
How does the Joy of Living relate to the Path of Liberation?
The Joy of Living and Path of Liberation are not two different paths. Rather, the Path of Liberation builds upon the Joy of Living teachings and practices and is for those who are interested in pursuing the Buddha’s teachings as their primary spiritual path. In this sense, the Path of Liberation can be viewed as an extension of the teachings presented in the Joy of Living.
How should Buddhists relate to the Joy of Living?
The Joy of Living, while presented in a secular format, draws on core teachings of the Buddhist tradition. The Joy of Living teachings should be viewed as the foundation for formal Buddhist practice. It is expected that all of those who study the Buddha’s teachings in the Tergar Meditation Community not only practice and study the Joy of Living teachings, but also return to these teachings again and again throughout their lives.
How should non–Buddhists relate to the Joy of Living?
Though rooted in the Buddhist teachings of Tibet, the teachings and practices presented in the Joy of Living deal with basic qualities of the human mind, such as awareness and compassion. The Joy of Living presents a complete path of meditation training; there is no expectation that those who follow the Joy of Living program should become Buddhist, or even that they should be interested in doing so.
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