Even if you never read anything in this genre, this book is one you should try.” Bill Gates
"Baraz turned Awakening Joy into a six-month class and found that participants maintained a positive attitude even after it ended (as long as they practiced the exercises; as with diets or working out, continuity is essential). Word of mouth about the course that could make people happier began to spread: The first round of Awakening Joy meetings consisted of about 40 members. The next numbered 100; the next, 200, and then 500. It went international when its members began e-mailing their monthly homework assignments from the lectures to friends. Baraz was thrilled to receive messages from strangers in Europe, Africa, and New Zealand. 'It works!' they wrote. Apparently, you didn't have to be there to get the joy." O, The Oprah Magazine
"The readings evoke the feeling of sharing an intimate conversation with a wise teacher over a cup of tea. They are gentle, personal, and helpful...The lessons offered in Awakening Joy are highly relevant for beginning and experienced practitioners of mindfulness because they bring a fresh and unique perspective to many of the core teachings and practices of Buddhism." Mindfulness Bell
"Awakening Joy can lead each of us to live with dignity, compassion, and gracious freedom. Read these words slowly. Savor them and practice the exercises in this book. Use them to open your heart and transform your life. Your days on Earth will be full of blessings." Jack Kornfield, author of the best-selling A Path with Heart
James Baraz has been teaching meditation for more than thirty years and the Awakening Joy course, both on-site and online, since 2003. He is a co—founding teacher of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California, and is on the international advisory board of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. He lives with his wife, Jane, in the San Francisco Bay area.
Shoshana Tembeck Alexander has studied Buddhism since the early 1970s and is the author of In Praise of Single Parents and Women’s Ventures, Women’s Visions. She has guided the work of several prominent Buddhist authors, including Tara Brach, Sharon Salzberg, and Wes Nisker. She lives in Ashland, Oregon.
Here's a book that works like a master locksmith's pick: it opens a door into a more fulfilling life. An outgrowth of James Baraz's successful online course of the same name, Awakening Joy: Ten Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Happiness is an accessible, anecdote-rich guide filled with valuable tips to understanding both the roadblocks challenging our lives and the open road inviting us for a drive on the freeway of our own personal happiness.
As a longtime meditation teacher, Baraz distills three decades of inquiry into the mind into this down-to-earth primer. Written with the gifted editor Shoshana Alexander, the book evokes the warmth of a satisfying conversation--actually a series of conversations--with a wise friend. And make no mistake: Baraz is wise. And compassionate, giving and optimistic. He's also a gifted teacher. Among his gifts? Advocating joy as a gateway to pass through on the journey to self-awareness.
To those readers brought up believing in narrow-minded, "should-"oriented approaches to living, awakening joy as a means of achieving personal growth might seem contraindicated--somehow jumping ahead of struggle, pain and suffering (the trinity of stages personal growth many believe we must first pass through to reach higher states of happiness). Such an approach misses the mark--by a wide margin. Baraz is not so much suggesting an "eat dessert first" approach to living as much as saying dessert is available all the time in succulent, small bites. If we pay attention enough to notice.Read more ›
"Oh hellll motha f''ing no." That's a sanitized version of what I thought when my coworker invited me to read this book, and join her for the Awakening Joy class. Wanting to be polite, what came out was more like a skeptical, "I don't think I'd be interested." She patiently suggested that I simply preview the book, and give it a chance because she had heard good things.
Although clearly predisposed to doubt, I started reading Awakening Joy on Amazon, checking out the first chapter for free, and to my surprise I was hooked. So much that I got the book AND signed up for the class. In case you haven't figured it out yet, there is a class you can take that goes with the book, and each month one chapter is covered. I'll write a little more about the class at the end of this review. For now, just the book...
If you are like I was, and not sure whether to read this book, definitely start with the free preview on Amazon, and see what you think. I have noticed some reviewers who think the writing style is too cheesy. Well I anticipated exactly that. But to me, it does not read that way. I can see how this book might not be for everyone, but like my coworker said, do give it a chance.
My concern was there because 1.) it was written by a Buddhist practitioner, 2) it is called Awakening Joy, and 3) the very fact that there is a class that goes with the book. I even wondered if this program was an entry into some kind of cult! (of course it's not!)
Regarding the religious part - Being raised in a Buddhist/Jewish family, on one hand I have an affinity toward Buddhist philosophy. On the other, I am a devout agnostic who does not wish to commit to any religion. I have a hard time with any practice that requires me to have "faith" or what feels to me like superstition.Read more ›
I took James Baraz's online course called Awakening Joy and it was a remarkably life-changing experience. I just ordered the book and devoured it immediately and bought 3 copies to give as gifts to my friends. It captures in such a great way a path that really changed my level of daily joy. The book is beautifully written and organized and I just LOVE it. I have a feeling I will be ordering many more copies as I want to give it to everyone I know. I completely recommend it. It isn't just a basic self-help book--it is deep, comes from a deep meditation practice that James Baraz has--and his own experiences of deepening joy that he writes about in the book. It is not superficial at all. I found that it deepened my understanding of his teachings about joy and I already feel the effects. I trust you will love it as much as I do. And I'd recommend doing the online course, or doing it in Berkeley where he teaches it live! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
I picked up Awakening Joy a few months after my husband passed away. Grief has a way of intensifying after the first few months on autopilot have passed. I looked toward friends, books and a support group, all of which emphasized my loss, how my life had changed, and what I no longer could look forward to.
When I read Awakening Joy, I experienced a serenity that I hadn't felt in some time. James Baraz gave me a strong sense of what I DID have and what I COULD do to appreciate the special moments in the here and now that held purpose and joy. I liked the structure of his book, a finely woven tapestry of personal narrative (he's "walked the walk"), philosophical and scientific perspectives that gave credence to his views, and first hand experiences of his students who have used the techniques from his AJ course (mindfulness, loving kindness, gratitude, among others)to effect personal change. I tried some of the simple highlighted suggestions and they worked.
Baraz speaks directly to his reader in a positive, reassuring and encouraging tone that's not preachy or schmaltzy. Combined with a few humorous asides, he even elicited an easy smile or two as I read. I learned that in our fast-paced, demanding world, we don't have to look far for the most meaningful and gratifying moments -- they are within us.