Tapping Into Joy
While I was travelling through
the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico in my early 20's, shortly after the Zapatistas uprising,
I was befriended by a sweet little girl with big brown eyes.
She found me while I was meandering through an outdoor market in San Cristobal de Las Casas, she just slid her tiny hand into mine and looked up at me with a disarming smile. That was all it took, my heart was hers.
Every time I visited that market she'd reappear, slipping her little hand into mine and beaming that big beautiful smile of hers. We'd sit and watch my son as he ran wild through the market, laughing our hearts out at his antics.
She was probably about six years old but not much taller than my two and half year old son. She'd often have one of her little siblings on her hip, she'd tote those toddlers around like she'd been doing it forever. I was in awe of her.
Her mom would be on the periphery of the market, deftly weaving up some magic with precision and grace while a babe nursed on her breast. Our bond was that of mothers, we didn't speak a common language but we understood each other well enough.
My little friend, her mother, and her siblings were homeless. They would spend their days selling their intricately woven belts and bracelets on the streets in the hopes of making enough money to fill their bellies and would spend their nights sleeping together under the stars.
What stuck with me was the joy that radiated out of that family. They were always smiling and laughing together. I could tell the mother was tired but she beamed a genuine kindness that was infectious. I saw so many indigenous families throughout the rural communities of Mexico that winter that appeared to be living in extreme poverty, and yet they consistently emanated so much joy.
It blew my mind. I'd been conditioned to believe that joy was dependent on external living conditions; the right house, the right job, the right body, the right relationship.
Their joy defied all that conditioning. That winter spent travelling through Mexico sparked the beginning of my exploration into true joy.
Here's what I've learned in a nutshell; joy is an inside job, it's a choice, and it needs to be cultivated daily.
Before I dive into how I cultivate joy, I'd like to make a distinction between joy and happiness.
Happiness is created by the mind, it's easily influenced by its environment, shaping reality from life's experiences; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Joy is the sensation of happiness moving through the body, like a river it's fluid, an internal awareness that is connected to something greater than oneself. In the same way that all rivers eventually join the ocean, your internal joy is connected to the greater joy of all that is.
To cultivate more joy requires a capacity to tap into it as it moves through you. Unlike happiness which is cultivated by the mind, joy is found in the spaciousness between thoughts.
Have you ever been so struck by the beauty of nature that your mind is wiped clean, just for a few seconds? That's the spaciousness I'm talking about.
We could also refer to joy as presence. When we are completely present within an experience we are in the spaciousness of 'no mind'.
There are a million different ways to cultivate presence which ultimately leads to a greater awareness of internal joy.
It has been my experience that whenever I clean out the container that holds my joy – my body, my capacity for joy increases.
For me, it all comes down to these three things; nourishment, movement, and stillness. When these pillars are well-supported and balanced, joy is easy to recognize and moves freely throughout my being. When any one of these pillars is out of balance the pathways to joy become blocked.
But joy is always there, waiting for my awareness.
My simple recipe for tapping into more joy...
Move the body daily, whether walking, running, cycling, dancing, playing sports, or practicing Yoga or Tai Chi, get that heart rate up. This allows the body to release blocked or stagnant energy, opening the pathways for joy to move freely.
Practice stillness for a deepening of your awareness and a heightening of your capacity to tune into the subtle cues of your body's needs, which are always trying to guide you towards more joy. I'm talking about the innate intelligence of your body – the same intelligence that builds babies, circulates blood and causes your heart to keep beating. Stillness allows that inner intelligence to be heard.
Our bodies are constantly communicating with us, if you take the time to listen, if you embrace some stillness and bring your awareness into your body (and out of your mind) you may experience an opening towards the root of your physical, emotional, or psychological dis'ease.
You may even find that as soon as you bring your undivided attention to the uncomfortable sensations in your body and gently hold your focus there for a while, without judgement or an analytical interpretation, just a soft awareness, the uncomfortable sensations might dissipate or even release completely.
Our bodies are made up of dense matter, for the lightness of joy to move through us freely we need to shake things up a little.
Spring is the perfect time to cause a little bit of a ruckus within our bodies and clean out the debris that's been piling up all winter long. You know, all those environmental toxins we can't avoid, along with the ones we can but for whatever reason don't; the chemicals found in processed foods, the toxins in our household cleaning products, the carcinogens in our beauty products, the synthetic fragrances in so many household products... etc.
Our bodies get overburdened with all those toxins, they build up and create illness and disease. Seasonal cleansing is a great way to clear out the build-up, to reset your body, and open the pathways for more joy.
*For info on my preferred cleanse (as in the easiest, gentlest, and most effective cleanse I've ever done) contact me.
I'm here to support you on your journey towards increased joy.