What is your source of joy?

This holiday season, I continued one of my current traditions of making an insane number of cookies to share with family and friends.  Typically, I make multiple batches for roughly 10-12 different recipes, yielding 70 – 100 dozen cookies (yes, that’s on the order of one thousand treats!).  This year felt different, though, not because of what I did, but how the cookies were produced.

  • I spend two or three days making gluten-free cookies with my daughter, who loves the tradition of making cookies but can’t eat any cookies with flour or with ingredients that may have been exposed through gluten.  And even though she can’t eat more traditional cookies, she also later made more traditional cookies from our repertoire to share with her friends and co-workers.
  • I had two lovely afternoons with my niece who came over to help me bake.  We had quite a production going, cooking multiple batches simultaneously in two ovens and multi-tasking pretty intensively.
  • Most recently, one of my sons came over and to bake cookies to give to his friends and to other family members.  These cookies were a kind I have made for years, and they’ve become his signature cookie to give to friends and family.

What really stood out to me this year was the pleasure I got from the company of family members who enjoyed sharing this act of creativity and giving.  It’s also gratifying to see this tradition being adopted by a younger generation, and when I am ready to let go of this work, I’ll have the joy of knowing that other family members have chosen to carry it on. Baking together has let us try experiments with recipes and decide what worked or not.  We’ve also have a few minor mishaps.  All of the times we bake, though, yields stories of shared experiences, a sense of continuity, and the joy of giving something hand-made as an expression of friendship and love.

So what does this have to do with Yoga?  I like to interpret the word Yoga as “connection”, or “union”.  It can refer to one’s personal awakening to one’s connection with the universal, higher aspects of spirit that we all have access to.  Awakening to this spirit also means the recognition of that connection we have with others.  This idea isn’t just in Yoga practice – it is present in many cultures and philosophies.  For example, in Buddhism, there’s the concept of awakening beyond the limits of the self/ego, and in the Bible (John 15:5) Jesus says “”I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit”.  We typically close a Yoga class with the word “Namaste”, which can be can be translated as “The light and peace in me honors and embraces the light and peace in you”. 

There are so many ways of building connection, bonds, and traditions, I’d love to hear about your own traditions that build shared experiences.  What is your source of joy and connection in the holidays or just day-to-day?