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Real Joy, Right Now

Do you often hear yourself saying, "When such and such happens, then I'll be happy"? Why wait for happiness when it's available to you right now, at this moment?

By Sally Kempton

Step Seven: Be Content in the Moment

Everything you do to come to the state of contentment rests finally on your ability to occupy your own ground, the state of pure being that lies behind your thoughts and actions. Meditation is one of the keys to that state. "It was my meditation practice that showed me how to find the essence inside every moment,'' one woman told me when I asked her how she was dealing with her own tough time. "Anytime I can stop, breathe, and feel the pulsation of life inside my body, I can feel contentment. I know at that moment that it's my mind and ego that are worried and upset. My deeper being is always just fine." She was talking about what I call the fundamental gesture of meditation, a core practice in nearly every Eastern tradition.

Here is a basic practice for experiencing a meditative state.

First, sit with your back straight (yet not rigid) and close your eyes. Listen to the sounds around you without trying to identify them, make sense of them, or push them away. Then draw your attention inward. Feel the sensations inside your body. Follow the movement of the breath, the entire arc of inhalation and exhalation. Notice the thoughts that are coming and going. Do this without trying to make sense of them or avoid them. Every time you notice yourself following a thought, as soon as you become aware that you're thinking, bring your attention back to your breath.

Then focus your awareness in the center of your chest, beneath the breastbone, inside the body. Feel the pulsation of your own heartbeat and know that the rhythm of your heartbeat is the rhythm of life. Each heartbeat signals a new moment, a new present. Just be with it, allowing the breath to flow naturally. You aren't trying to change your state or "get into meditation." You're simply being with yourself, in this moment, as you are.

The pulsation of the breath and the heartbeat are a constant source of natural contentment. They are always there, in the moment. To make contentment last, to make it a condition of your life, you practice both letting go and acceptance. You find your heart's real calling, your authentic sense of self. You learn how to inhabit yourself by following your svadharma.

Yet in the highest sense, contentment is the gift that comes when you touch the timeless essence inside a particular moment of time—the ever-present now. In any moment, no matter what else you may be feeling, you can open the door to contentment by giving yourself permission to stop and be with yourself. It's that easy.

Sally Kempton, also known as Durgananda, is an author, a meditation teacher, and the founder of the Dharana Institute. For more information, visit

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Reader Comments

joan kushner

why do you think that taking prozac gives one 'contenment'? it's simply not true.

shirley knudsen

Tjhank you for giving me some hope with your amazing article "Real Joy Right Now".
I am in a terribly dark place right now .Instead of my boys leaving "the nest" I had to leave my 3 teenage sons to follow my husband up the "corporate ladder to another town 200 miles away. Having just arrived my mother died suddenly of a heart attack, my brother died shortly after of bowel cancer and a short time my husband was out on his mountain bike and had a massive heart attack and died instantly. I didn't even get to say "good-bye to him". My 3 sons all live far away and I feel very alone.
I will work through what you have written and thank you once again for giving me hope.

Shirley Knudsen


What a fitting article. I claimed bankruptcy and lost my job all in one year and I am about to go on social assistance, if I qualify. As weird as it sounds, I am even afraid to say I am at peace. It is as if the universe gave me an opportunity to start over again and this time to make things right. I feel a sense of contentment at the moment, however, can only imagine a small voice in my head saying "how can you be so calm?" I respond to it by saying the universe shall provide.

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