by Pompe Strater-Vidal
Zen Sensei and founder of Relax Breathe Flow

Joy is a spontaneous quality that bubbles to the surface when we are present, and aware. Look closely at a young child; you can see it. A one-year-old, innocent and fresh, experiences pure joy exploring the world when they take their first steps, when they see their mother’s face, when they see a butterfly flutter by.

Every day brings something new, a new taste, a new smell, a new adventure. Whether it’s a puppy or a cardboard box, both are treasured by a little child.

Joy is not something we pursue, something we get, like a new car, more fame or more money. Joy is the hidden treasure we find in the present moment, the world of now. Because it’s not a possession or achievement, we all have the ability to access it, to find it within our own heart with the warmth of a smile.

Let’s talk now about what blocks our joy. If it’s part of who we are, why aren’t we all smiling?

The biggest problem that gets in our way is attachment. Attachments bind us to the past, to our own personal history, clouding our experience with worries, doubts and fears. Holding on tightly covers up our joy, choking and suffocating our spontaneity with ideas about how things should be. Attachments are a rejection of the present moment, because the present moment is always changing, flowing from one moment to the next. Attachments are fixed, liked a barnacle stuck to a rock.

I like to look at the world from a perspective I call “9 Points of Awareness”, so lets do that now with joy, and it’s biggest block, attachment. I call these:

9 pillars of attachments:

Perfectionism, attached to being right
Codependency, attached to being helpful
Vanity, attached to success and looking good
Victimhood, attached to self blame and guilt
Detachment, attached to thoughts and possessions
Confusion, attached to fear and doubt
Escapism, attached to pleasure
Denial, attached to power and strength
Inertia, attached to the comfort of the status quo

Wow, quite a list. Which qualities do you recognize in your self? And remember this, the point is NOT to beat your self up with new insights about your attachments. The point is to expand your awareness and let them go. There is nothing inherently wrong with being successful, or experiencing pleasure. It’s our attachment, our stubborn clinging, that blocks our ability to experience the joy of the present moment.

Life is a continuous flow of constant change, moment to moment, each one new and fresh. Attachments are the places where we get stuck. Meditation and mindfulness are doors of transformation, opportunities to get unstuck.

Begin now with a simple smile, breathing in and breathing out with awareness. Let go, and find joy in the present moment.

If you have any comments, questions, or would just like to know more about my Zen training, you can email me at

All the best,