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As those of us in the Northern Hemisphere slide closer toward the deepening darkness of the winter solstice on December 21, many of us sometimes experience something that feels darker than just the dwindling daylight outdoors. The winter blues are most easily remedied with sunlight, but in lieu of traveling to sunnier lands, mindfulness and meditation can help focus on finding light during the darkest months of the year.

Over time, many people who practice formal meditation discover a powerful quality sometimes referred “non-energetic joy.” Once tapped, this is bountiful energy. Practicing joyful mindfulness accelerates this quality and begins by bringing full attention to small joyful experiences in our daily lives. Riding a bike, savoring a good cup of coffee, watching a child learn something new or petting a purring cat are examples of times during which we can apply joyful mindfulness. The key is to appreciate these moments of joy with a highly attuned consciousness.

Bringing mindfulness to these every-day experiences is immediately rewarding because the moments themselves become even more enjoyable, simply because you’re more present to appreciate them. Then, like anything, the more you practice, the more adept you become, which then infuses more joy into more experiences. (For more about joyful mindfulness, see chapter 3 of Search Inside Yourself.)

The next step is to then practice bringing the same joy in a disciplined way to your meditation. This is where non-energetic joy will eventually sustain you through the dark winter months and beyond.