Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Awakening Joy Every Day
Category:
Mind

A Conversation with James Baraz

Photo Credits: James Baraz

As a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, and creator of Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to a Happier Life, James Baraz has helped thousands of people open their minds and hearts to more awareness, authenticity and yes, joy. Together with his wife Jane, James has developed mindfulness-based courses for families, and now teaches with his son, Adam.

We spoke with James about the special healing magic that mindfulness brings to families, his upcoming workshop co-taught with Adam on healing parent-child relationships, and why cultivating joy is more important today than ever.

Esalen News: How does mindfulness benefit families?

James: I think of mindfulness and social-emotional intelligence as two of the most important things we can both embody ourselves and impart to our children. More than teaching them, being that embodiment as best we can and being as conscious as we can in our relationships is the greatest gift to our children.

The more we can learn how to find our own center and learn how to express our joy and kindness and generosity and caring and love, the more we can foster that in our children…and the more that’s what they’ll grow up being.

Esalen News: How do we engage a child to practice mindfulness?

James: Children are naturally curious and they’re a kind of learning sponge. If they’re not distracted by distress inside, or lots of different devices, children can teach us about being present and being mindful. It’s more a matter of fostering that natural instinct that’s already in them, and really encouraging and delighting in and supporting that.

Photo Credits: Jessica Tamayo

One of my main approaches is seeing the world through a child’s eyes. It’s for us to remember how we were, and let our children remind us to look with fresh eyes and foster the natural curiosity and sense of wonder that they have, along with developing certain attitudes, like how good it feels to be kind, how good it feels to express our caring, how important it is to feel good about ourselves but not at the expense of others. It’s a matter of creating all the supportive conditions that let their natural wonder, joy and caring come out.

What gets in the way is a parent saying, “no, no, no” all the time. I think something like 85% of the messages a child gets before the age of five is “no.” Of course we want to protect them, but we don’t want them to be so overly protected that they don’t explore, and you don’t say “yes!”. It’s up to us not to constrain them while keeping them safe and delighting in their natural gifts so that they come out in a beautiful way.

Esalen News: What will you and Adam explore in your upcoming workshop on healing the parent-child relationship?

James: Adam is a spiritual teacher with a deep Tibetan Buddhist practice, and a somatic counselor. I am fortunate to say there is a lot of love between Adam and me, and that’s probably as much of the transmission as anything.

Some of the questions we’re going to explore during the workshop include: what’s a healthy parent-child relationship in your eyes? How would you describe your relationship, and what do you appreciate about it? What are the challenges, and what would you like to change or cultivate to make it the healthiest relationship possible? What needs forgiveness?

We want to teach parents and children how to stay connected to the love between them, and have that as a basis for both celebrating what’s there and looking at anything that gets in the way. The workshop also will be a time to experience joy, have fun and be grateful. If you’ve got a good relationship, don’t miss it. Don’t take it for granted. And if you see the inevitable rough patches as opportunities to become more aware, then that relationship is going to be a model for you for all your other relationships in life.

Esalen News: Why is it important to cultivate joy in challenging times?

James: It’s so easy to get caught up in despair and hopelessness. The more we are caught up in that, the more that’s what we’re embodying and adding to the collective consciousness. All those feelings are a normal and understandable response to what’s true on our planet, but if we let that be what comes out of us, it keeps down all the goodness, love, vitality and the possibility that’s right inside of us. The way I see it, we’re in a race between fear and consciousness, and the more we come from fear, the more we’re adding fear. The more we’re adding consciousness, love and joy, the more we see how much life is worth living.

Our joy is a gift to awaken everyone. There’s a place in all of us that wants to express our caring and love. That’s how we are when we’re not caught in fear, so I see getting in touch with our joy as an essential contribution. The more we can access that, the more we can remind each other of that. Then, we’re wanting to make this a better world not out of duty but out of love. If you look with the eyes of a child you see that people really do want to love and be loved and feel safe just like our children.

Learn more about James and Adam’s upcoming Esalen workshops, Parent and Child: Creating a Conscious Relationship and Embodying Presence: Relaxing the Body into Being.

Photo Credits: Gazebo Staff




“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Awakening Joy Every Day

About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Category:
Mind

A Conversation with James Baraz

Photo Credits: James Baraz

As a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, and creator of Awakening Joy: 10 Steps to a Happier Life, James Baraz has helped thousands of people open their minds and hearts to more awareness, authenticity and yes, joy. Together with his wife Jane, James has developed mindfulness-based courses for families, and now teaches with his son, Adam.

We spoke with James about the special healing magic that mindfulness brings to families, his upcoming workshop co-taught with Adam on healing parent-child relationships, and why cultivating joy is more important today than ever.

Esalen News: How does mindfulness benefit families?

James: I think of mindfulness and social-emotional intelligence as two of the most important things we can both embody ourselves and impart to our children. More than teaching them, being that embodiment as best we can and being as conscious as we can in our relationships is the greatest gift to our children.

The more we can learn how to find our own center and learn how to express our joy and kindness and generosity and caring and love, the more we can foster that in our children…and the more that’s what they’ll grow up being.

Esalen News: How do we engage a child to practice mindfulness?

James: Children are naturally curious and they’re a kind of learning sponge. If they’re not distracted by distress inside, or lots of different devices, children can teach us about being present and being mindful. It’s more a matter of fostering that natural instinct that’s already in them, and really encouraging and delighting in and supporting that.

Photo Credits: Jessica Tamayo

One of my main approaches is seeing the world through a child’s eyes. It’s for us to remember how we were, and let our children remind us to look with fresh eyes and foster the natural curiosity and sense of wonder that they have, along with developing certain attitudes, like how good it feels to be kind, how good it feels to express our caring, how important it is to feel good about ourselves but not at the expense of others. It’s a matter of creating all the supportive conditions that let their natural wonder, joy and caring come out.

What gets in the way is a parent saying, “no, no, no” all the time. I think something like 85% of the messages a child gets before the age of five is “no.” Of course we want to protect them, but we don’t want them to be so overly protected that they don’t explore, and you don’t say “yes!”. It’s up to us not to constrain them while keeping them safe and delighting in their natural gifts so that they come out in a beautiful way.

Esalen News: What will you and Adam explore in your upcoming workshop on healing the parent-child relationship?

James: Adam is a spiritual teacher with a deep Tibetan Buddhist practice, and a somatic counselor. I am fortunate to say there is a lot of love between Adam and me, and that’s probably as much of the transmission as anything.

Some of the questions we’re going to explore during the workshop include: what’s a healthy parent-child relationship in your eyes? How would you describe your relationship, and what do you appreciate about it? What are the challenges, and what would you like to change or cultivate to make it the healthiest relationship possible? What needs forgiveness?

We want to teach parents and children how to stay connected to the love between them, and have that as a basis for both celebrating what’s there and looking at anything that gets in the way. The workshop also will be a time to experience joy, have fun and be grateful. If you’ve got a good relationship, don’t miss it. Don’t take it for granted. And if you see the inevitable rough patches as opportunities to become more aware, then that relationship is going to be a model for you for all your other relationships in life.

Esalen News: Why is it important to cultivate joy in challenging times?

James: It’s so easy to get caught up in despair and hopelessness. The more we are caught up in that, the more that’s what we’re embodying and adding to the collective consciousness. All those feelings are a normal and understandable response to what’s true on our planet, but if we let that be what comes out of us, it keeps down all the goodness, love, vitality and the possibility that’s right inside of us. The way I see it, we’re in a race between fear and consciousness, and the more we come from fear, the more we’re adding fear. The more we’re adding consciousness, love and joy, the more we see how much life is worth living.

Our joy is a gift to awaken everyone. There’s a place in all of us that wants to express our caring and love. That’s how we are when we’re not caught in fear, so I see getting in touch with our joy as an essential contribution. The more we can access that, the more we can remind each other of that. Then, we’re wanting to make this a better world not out of duty but out of love. If you look with the eyes of a child you see that people really do want to love and be loved and feel safe just like our children.

Learn more about James and Adam’s upcoming Esalen workshops, Parent and Child: Creating a Conscious Relationship and Embodying Presence: Relaxing the Body into Being.

Photo Credits: Gazebo Staff




“Remembering to be as self compassionate as I can and praying to the divine that we're all a part of.” 
–Aaron

“Prayer, reading, meditation, walking.”
–Karen
“Erratically — which is an ongoing stream of practice to find peace.”
–Charles
“Try on a daily basis to be kind to myself and to realize that making mistakes is a part of the human condition. Learning from our mistakes is a journey. But it starts with compassion and caring. First for oneself.”
–Steve

“Physically: aerobic exercise, volleyball, ice hockey, cycling, sailing. Emotionally: unfortunately I have to work to ‘not care’ about people or situations which may end painfully. Along the lines of ‘attachment is the source of suffering’, so best to avoid it or limit its scope. Sad though because it could also be the source of great joy. Is it worth the risk?“
–Rainer

“It's time for my heart to be nurtured on one level yet contained on another. To go easy on me and to allow my feelings to be validated, not judged harshly. On the other hand, to let the heart rule with equanimity and not lead the mind and body around like a master.”
–Suzanne

“I spend time thinking of everything I am grateful for, and I try to develop my ability to express compassion for myself and others without reservation. I take time to do the things I need to do to keep myself healthy and happy. This includes taking experiential workshops, fostering relationships, and participating within groups which have a similar interest to become a more compassionate and fulfilled being.“
–Peter

“Self-forgiveness for my own judgments. And oh yeah, coming to Esalen.”
–David B.

“Hmm, this is a tough one! I guess I take care of my heart through fostering relationships with people I feel connected to. Spending quality time with them (whether we're on the phone, through messages/letters, on Zoom, or in-person). Being there for them, listening to them, sharing what's going on with me, my struggles and my successes... like we do in the Esalen weekly Friends of Esalen Zoom sessions!”
–Lori

“I remind myself in many ways of the fact that " Love is all there is!" LOVE is the prize and this one precious life is the stage we get to learn our lessons. I get out into nature, hike, camp, river kayak, fly fish, garden, I create, I dance (not enough!), and I remain grateful for each day, each breath, each moment. Being in the moment, awake, and remembering the gift of life and my feeling of gratitude for all of creation.”
–Steven
“My physical heart by limiting stress and eating a heart-healthy diet. My emotional heart by staying in love with the world and by knowing that all disappointment and loss will pass.“
–David Z.


Today, September 29, is World Heart Day. Strike up a conversation with your own heart and as you feel comfortable, encourage others to do the same. As part of our own transformations and self-care, we sometimes ask for others to illuminate and enliven our hearts or speak our love language.

What if we could do this for ourselves too, even if just for today… or to start a heart practice, forever?



About

Esalen Team

Darnell Lamont Walker leading Rituals Writing Workshop
Awakening Joy Every Day
Category:
Mind

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About

Esalen Team

Awakening Joy Every Day

About

Esalen Team

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