The Joy of Life: From Minnesota to Sri Lanka to Montreal


The coast of Hambantota, Sri Lanka – April 2009
The coast of Hambantota, Sri Lanka – April 2009

I was journeying back to Sri Lanka, my second trip there in one year as a humanitarian worker. On a personal level, I needed this trip to meet the people who, unknowingly, were instrumental in setting the course of my spiritual journey. Since the day I said “yes” to a Joy of Life (JOL) meditation class in Colombo one year back, I am not the same person I was, and even though the road that stretches ahead will one day tell me who I am, I know myself to be more joyful and more present than ever before.

In a roundabout way I met Emily Paul, a four-year student of Kambiz Naficy of the Joy of Life. Emily currently lives in Minnesota but it wasn’t until I decided to attend Kambiz’ first retreat in the U.S. that I learned she had preceded me in Sri Lanka. Emily helped launch the Joy of Life Center in Sri Lanka that now has a membership of more than 200 people. When I look back on the road, I am awed by the timeliness of events that conspired in my favor, from the meditation class in Colombo to the start-up JOL retreat in Minnesota in January this year.

Two months after this retreat, I was on a plane back to Sri Lanka. This is a country known for its rich heritage of spiritual leadership in Buddhism and Hinduism. What had so captivated my Sri Lankan friends and Emily, as well about this Iranian guru? There is a quiet smile in people’s reaction.

If you listen to Kambiz’ talks, he artfully bridges ancient spiritual knowledge with modern holistic science, moving from the ancient to the modern with grace and simplicity. He makes profound truths effortless to absorb. And he uniquely brings a psycho-spiritual approach to guiding the individual with the use of creative visualization and other techniques that work to overcome self-limiting beliefs. This is the threshold to developing lasting joy and bliss attained through a connection to the Soul.

In his retreats, Kambiz alternates a lesson with meditation, connecting the absorption of profound truths with the practice of silence. The effect is highly transformative. What makes it even more difficult to intellectualize the experience, as Emily and my Sri Lankan friends affirm, is that we feel the connection to Kambiz’ energy.

The transformation happens almost in spite of oneself. It is no wonder that deep relationships form with other fellow students. In the sharing of silence, Kambiz’ energy, and the loving witness to each other’s growing authenticity, the “invisible string,” as Emily says, is more binding than our conversations in the material world. The journey from Minnesota to Sri Lanka to home taught me that this same truth holds, whether I am among my JOL friends in Colombo or in Minnesota.

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Mary Picard is a humanitarian worker and international consultant. While her profession takes her all over the world, she is currently based in Montreal, Quebec. Mary has been studying with Kambiz Naficy since her introduction to meditation at the Joy of Life Center in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in March 2008. This inspired her to take the 30-day Odyssey I course by correspondence with Kambiz in September that year. Then the opportunity to attend her first retreat with Joy of Life, led by Kambiz, came in January 2009 in Minnesota. Mary can be reached at [email protected].


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