34. Always maintain only a joyful mind; if you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained.
These two slogans encourage the same approach: maintain a steadfast mind, recognize the temporary ups and downs as impermanent and use every situation in your life to wake up. The quality of “joy” referred to here is not a loud, celebrative party; it’s more like a quiet glow of satisfaction and contentment in your belly. This state allows me to notice and appreciate everything in my life and remember to practice the three difficulties. This joy is the beginning of compassion and the seed of sanity.
When I let go of resistance, relax and open to my experience, things become “no big deal.” I can catch myself being drawn into habitual patterns or discursive thought and use this unmindfulness to bring me back to mindfulness. Actually, once I notice that I have drifted away from mindfulness then I have returned to mindfulness! Distraction itself brings me back to the present moment.