Some of you may know that I’m a part of a transformational, spiritual and personal-expansion community online called Soul School. It’s run by Alexi Panos and worth every penny and more in return value. Each month we dive into a theme, and this month is Joy. To summarize in her words:
“Joy is about satisfying the Spirit and this is where we
truly begin to experience our freedom, because we are completely unattached to anything outside of ourselves creating a result for us. Joy is truly the practice of forgetfulness because we must let go of our mind to become fully absorbed in the life that is occurring”.
Each theme comes with “soul challenges”, and this weeks challenge was to carve out time for something that brought you joy as a child...DONE.
Not much has changed since childhood in that I have many avenues for joy.
The first thing I did was run. I used to love to climb and run and tumble as a child. Now it's morphed into a running practice as both a discipline and a way to raise my energetic vibration and build resilience.
On Sunday I set the intention. But when the day came I was experiencing tightness and pressure in my neck and head. I thought for sure that running was not going to be sustainable with the pain, but I told myself that I'd at least get on the road and feel it out. I could always turn around if my body needed rest. After 1 mile, the pounding began to subside as my body loosened and adapted to the movement. I told myself to keep going. At mile 2 I began to fall into a rhythm and feel strong in my stride. I told myself to honor my edge by pacing and stay consistent. At mile 3 I remembered that I was doing this to allow in Joy, and began to laugh and smile at the contrast of my now empowered stride, shimmering against the initial doubt that almost kept me home. I sent love and encouragement to myself. By mile 4, I was filled with a wash of gratitude, generated by redirecting my focus to my health, the beauty of the landscape and this experience of resilience. Inspired by a tool my cousin shared with me when she embarked on a Sealfit experience last month, I began to envision a tiger running beside me. Then it was one on each side. Then a whole fleet behind me. It was amazing. I picked up and sustained a quicker pace. My form felt fluid, and I was in Joy.
On another day my body may not have cooperated, and that would have been perfect. Joy would have shown up somewhere else. But the point is that it was generated despite challenging circumstances, with the act of shifting my perspective over and over again.
Singing and dancing have also been Joy generators my whole life. As part of the challenge I began dusting off my voice and getting serious about stretching its muscle. I even signed up for a voice lesson to get me back into the swing of things. And there's been some passionate steering wheel dance parties. Red light neighbors...it's ON.
Next I carved out some time for yoga, which nurtures my connection to my body. Yoga is great for me as is, but I also got a new kitten recently. And what's better than doing yoga? Doing yoga while a tiny, playful fluff-nugget climbs all over you and nests in your t-shirt while you rest in child's pose. Pure, Joy.
Finally, I sat to do the guided meditation on Joy in the classroom. As I began to create a picture in my mind of a memory that elicited Joy, I got a vision for a piece of art that integrates both the external and internal aspects of Joy for me. It moved in organically and stirred an excitement in me. I knew that I would be painting it soon..and as I’ve mentioned before, creating art and things with my hands nurtures Joy for me as well.
What I sense is important for me to remember is that all of these activities were a choice, executed intentionally to reorient myself to the experience of being deeply and expansively engaged with the world. I’m not always in a state of joy but I can practice cultivating it within me and ALLOW it to move through me by fostering authentic appreciation and presence, moment by moment, tending to the seed as it blooms brighter the more it is watered.