Leaning toward Joy
A Two-Minute Experiment
I have a reputation for being a Teacher of the Morose.
It’s odd, because both you and I know that I’m fairly funny.
These long lonely summer days, I’ve actually begun having an occasional and randomly amusing time with myself.
This is good news.
Yet I do think I have a bit of a yogic rep (in the tiny yet vast Kripalu world) for being a “deep diver,” leading introspective programming.
It’s probably true, and for that, I am grateful, forever-grateful.
My boss is a good enough guy; he’s committed to light and feathery outdoor programming, like the yoga of standing paddle boarding while chewing gum, under a full moon, possibly smeared in oblong patterns with menstrual blood, if you have any, while playing jolly Beach Boy music.
A few years ago, he sat me down, looked me in the eye and told me to create a workshop on “joy.”
Without saying “Lighten up, babe”, pretty much told me to lighten up, babe.
I contained my internal response (“GRRRRRRRRRR……..DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO…..) and created a workshop on joy. It’s been a powerful springboard, this workshop, into some rich learnings for me, about joy, yes, and about moroseness, about pleasure, yes, and about pain.
After leading this workshop for a few years, with initial reluctance along with a tiny slice of holier-than-thou-ness, I’ve eventually relaxed into it and learned a lot. Here are a few blog-ish headlines:
You want joy?
Cultivate the capacity to be present with your moroseness.
You want happiness?
Practice being with your heartbreak.
We get it all.
Our part of the process is to strengthen our container of being here, of noticing, of feeling.
Joy is a practice.
It’s not a lump, a thing, sometimes bestowed upon us, like fairy dust sprinkled on our heads.
We partner with the universe, creating the circumstances in which we are available to the joy that is already there.
We practice expanding our capacity to feel.
We practice cultivating our capacity to be here, now.
We practice cultivating our capacity to notice without judgment.
We are not the ones who give ourselves joy.
We are not the joy-givers.
We are the joy-receivers, the vessels through which joy surges.
Yet we have a responsibility, a relationship to create the circumstances for joy to flush us open and alive.
Here is a tiny yet hopefully impactful Two Minute Experiment in Joy. You’ll need somewhere to sit comfortably, a pen and paper, and two minutes.
Get comfortable. Sit. Feel the sitting. Breathe and relax.
Remember a time in which you felt joy flow through you. This memory might be from today or from decades ago. Allow yourself to remember and breath into those feelings.
Write down your memory. Make it real. Anchor the memory by writing.
What were the elements of this memory? Was it outside? Was it physical? Were you alone? Etc.?
Make a list of a few things you can do today to create the circumstances for a similar experience to emerge today.
What did you notice?
What can you take away from this inquiry, to create the circumstances for you to be more fully alive, just for today, only for today—right here, right now, this moment?
I’m closing this work-in-progress, this never-ending practice of living with what is while leaning toward joy, with a stunning Mary Oliver offering, which she has kindly, from beyond the grave, agreed to offer us. Read it aloud to yourself; share it aloud with another.
May it’s words, like seeds be planted in the earth of joyfulness!
I see or I hear
that more or less
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
It is what I was born for –
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world –
to instruct myself
over and over
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,
the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant –
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,
the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help
but grow wise
with such teachings
as these –
the untrimmable light
of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?
Dear Friends, wishing you many a “daily presentation,” to open your heart, to widen your eyes, to awaken your body into this glorious moment, no matter what is happening.
As always, please let me know—anything! The experiment? This poem? Joy? Non-joy? Anti-joy? What “kills you with delight?”
I am firstname.lastname@example.org.