For thousands of years – from ancient China and Native American folklore up through 20th century Disney movies and even rock lyrics, bluebirds have been symbols of human happiness. I had been aware of this for years, but always thought of this as no more than a myth. Birds come and go, I thought, flying by my windows. I didn’t take much notice of them.
My own happiness couldn’t possibly be linked to something as small and inconsequential as a bird, could it?
And then a pair of bluebirds built a nest in the bird box I mounted in my backyard. I noticed with great interest, and perhaps a bit of attachment to the territory I had staked out as my own, as the male and female moved in, sharing my home without invitation or permission. Soon though, I backed off my feelings of possession. Our worlds became one as I watched the pair lay eggs in their nest. They sat on the eggs to keep them warm and, soon enough, babies were born. Sadly, the babies died but the parents returned to the nest and tried again.
This time, when the brood hatched, I helped the babies by checking them for blowfly larvae when they were just born and still featherless. I would take the hatchlings one at a time out of the nest and check their tiny bodies for parasites, placing them temporarily in a plastic bowl. They were so identical that, if I put them back in the nest, they all looked the same and I couldn’t tell which baby I’d already checked. I got to know the birds and they came to know me. I checked on the nest every couple of days until the babies got their feathers. The parents quickly seemed to trust me and grew decreasingly agitated by my visits. With my help, the baby birds survived.
Now those babies have left the nest, but I put a cup of mealworms on the deck to attract them and they return often. The fledged juveniles feed together and I watch on like a proud grandfather. This fills me with great joy!
In Tantra, we call this feeling mudita. It means not just joy, but specifically joy in the happiness that other beings feel.
Like me, you have the power to create mudita. The more you seek to create pleasure and ease for others to experience, the more you in turn, will share their joy. I could have chosen to experience the bluebirds as a witness, separate and removed from their lives. Instead, I chose to integrate myself into their reality and improve it. Then we all – human and avian creatures alike – rejoiced together as the babies hatched and grew. By breaking down the barrier between the birds and myself, by acting on my knowledge that we are all part of the same whole, I created the mudita in which I was able to exult. When you see yourself not as separate, but as joined with every other being, you can do the same.
How have you created mudita today? Head to our new facebook group and share your story!
I also invite you to help me share the joy that you feel as you experience the life-affirming practices of Ashaya Yoga. Register for a workshop or retreat today!
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