In search of the joy place

Somehow the subject of joy keeps bubbling up and lately it’s front and center in my thoughts. As I mentioned in a recent post, a friend and I have been doing daily “check-ins” for several years and recently added joy–a topic I’ve been exploring for a while.

It’s been quite a revelation to see what a difference it makes to consciously seek the joy moments in every day.  You see, things like joy, happiness, playfulness, etc. have been elusive for me.  While the spiritual path has brought great equanimity and a sense of peace and contentment I never had, I’m still working on letting in the happy.

Numerous practitioners over the years have told me I should play more and it always feels like they’ve just asked me to spontaneously speak Greek.  “Duh, I don’t know how.”  I was a pretty serious kid in a household in which horsing around, childish behavior (even from a child) and too much laughter were discouraged.  I folded in so thoroughly I lost the sense of how to relax and have fun.

It took a long time to realize I have some strong beliefs that say it’s not okay to be too happy and joy, well that’s just suspect, something to be wary of.  Add in a long journey through some weird and uncomfortable health/muscle issues and I’ve hit senior status with a seriously impaired joy button.

At the same time this daily joy check-in has been happening, I’ve been working on holding a peaceful space in the face of the chaos since the U.S. election.  Part of that became checking each day for posts and/or news items about the positive and great things happening in the world and sharing them on Facebook.  During a party the other night, a friend turned and thanked me for creating a space of calm and peace with my posts.

When she said it, images of the many wonderful things I’d found flooded through me and I caught on to how much joy there is finding the good and the uplifting and sharing the happy.  I’ve been excited and joyful about it ever since.

I think the thing I love the most about this is how small and simple so many of the “joy things” have been and how much noticing them spreads the joy through my being even more.  Years of gratitude practice never quite sent me to the same place but joy practice is changing my world by leaps and bounds.

Just a word change.  And it reminds me that sometimes the resonance of one word over another for a given person makes all the difference.  If you, like me, have trouble holding the happy space, consider whether the word which makes you sparkle is gratitude or happiness or joy or … you name it and then practice finding the moments when you feel it.

A Checklist for the Most Popular Spells People Are Under

I tried to find a way to embed this terrific article from Carolyn Myss but the best I could do was “press” it, which seems to only wind up with a link.  Her discussion of many common negative beliefs as spells we have allowed to be cast upon us is SO thought provoking:

Source: A Checklist for the Most Popular Spells People Are Under

My latest magnetizing forces

If you’ve been following for a while, you know I’ve been trying to do practices toward which I’m drawn instead of setting up a practice and doing the same one daily no matter what.

Back after the election I started a regular practice of saying the lovingkindness chant and then added singing the Gayatri Mantra and Om Shanti Om.  I remained very faithful to that one and for quite a while it drew me as if I needed it like breathing.  Then I started also being drawn to do the short version of Yoga Nidra on my much-loved Swami Janakananda recording, Experience Yoga Nidra [after falling in love with this one I tried quite a few other yoga nidra recordings; none have the same script I love on the short one and the long ones leave out big chunks that are in his].

This practice has been particularly good for me in another spell of not enough sleep since you do this one lying down and it’s short enough I can stay awake all the way through.  I’ve also been loving the variation on alternate nostril breathing which takes up a fair portion of this short one – another one of those things that’s been just what I needed.  So I started alternating this with the chanting.

I lost track of who recommended this Patricia Cota-Robles meditation/affirmation, but I’ve pretty routinely played it as I go to sleep for several months now and sometimes I’ve let this substitute for chanting or yoga nidra.

Lately I’ve been drawn in yet another direction after YouTube kept putting the meditation below near the top of my suggestion list for a week or two.  The final kicker was when Sindy, of bluebutterflies and me, left a comment on one of my posts, including a link to — you guessed it — the same meditation.  I said, “okay, Universe, you don’t have to hit me over the head,” and tried it out.  I really like it.  I’m factoring it in several times a week; I’ve also tried a shorter one from Steve Nobel on the chakras and plan to try out some more.

I find this very powerful although I can’t tell you some “real life” manifestation; I just feel powerful energy forces throughout my body during it and for a long time after.  Just feel very drawn to it right now.

And of course there’s another Deepak/Oprah 21 day meditation event that started this week so I’m trying to do it too.  Some days I manage both one of theirs and the Steve Nobel, other days just one…

A positive view of where we’re going

Watched the Super Soul Sunday from this past weekend–in which Oprah interviewed Charles Eisenstein– today and found it so uplifting, I wanted to share it.  Much of the conversation is about the transitions of these times and handling them with peace.

I know so many of us are sharing videos, you could spend three or four hours a day just watching stuff, but this is 45 minutes or so that’s really worth watching.  For the next few months you can watch the whole thing here.

OWN’s execs keep changing their minds about letting people embed these videos and at the moment as far as I can tell they’ve taken the ability to embed a whole show away from both YouTube and the OWN site.  But I can put in this little blurb to give you a taste of the full version:

Rules and fear and fundamentalism

I’ve been trying out some different meditations on YouTube lately.  Something I’ve appreciated from a few of them has been instructions that allow for you to do the meditation either sitting or lying down and no specific requirements beyond that.  Over the years I’ve run into a lot of teachers and teachings with long lists of specific things you must do in order to successfully meditate or tune in to the divine, etc.

As one who’s always struggled with rules, I squirm when an instructor teaches that only those who perfectly obey a set of rules can achieve enlightenment, or succeed at meditation, or connect with divine/Buddha nature.  I’ve encountered instructions ranging from never to cross your legs or ankles, always to sit cross-legged, say only an exact script, wear a shawl wrapped a certain way when you meditate, your spine has to be absolutely straight… Personally, when I go to a workshop at which a teacher says stuff like that, I will never be attending another event with that teacher.

My mind starts asking questions like:

  • Really, All That Is created the universe and can heal the sick and raise the dead but can’t interact with a human who has her legs crossed?
  • If you can’t have your legs crossed OR uncrossed, are you supposed to have your leg bones removed so you can do a Gumby pretzel kind of thing?
  • so if your spine has to be absolutely straight does that mean people with scoliosis can’t become enlightened?  Really, God has an “oh those sinning scoliosis people, let’s ban them” thing going on?
  • Divine Consciousness has rules like a social club; gotta follow the rules or you can’t be part of the Buddha nature group?  Seriously.  People really think All That Is is petty?

Okay, my mind’s a scary place but when people make up rules that are so easy to break down into nonsense, I can’t accept those rules–and I really don’t get why so many people do.  I’ve been fascinated for years with the great love so many people have for lists of rules to follow.  Sometimes it’s a way of defining an “us” and a “them”.  I’m pretty sure some spiritual teachers want to sell people on their own set of “must follow” rules to keep people paying them.

Some rules are the ones that let people in fear believe they will be saved or reach their goal, get to heaven, reach enlightenment, etc.  I see it as the basis of fundamentalist thinking.  And I see that fundamentalism in those who want to create a path to higher consciousness paved with rules to follow.  I don’t think you have to be at the extreme edge of religion to be a fundamentalist.  Just afraid and looking for reassurance through a structure of rules providing an illusory guarantee…

I understand some of the sitting, wearing, etc. rules as rituals intended to focus intent and belief on accomplishing whatever the spiritual practice is meant to accomplish.  It just seems people wind up confusing the ritual with the end goal and somehow come to believe the precise steps of the ritual are integral to enlightenment or great meditation,etc. instead of an aid.  To me, tools are just there to use if I need them and if I benefit from a practice using my own way of doing it, the success is just as real and maybe more sweet.

Me, I don’t get along with rules so well.  I like a meditation that says I can sit down or lie down and how I do either doesn’t matter…

Checking in, gratitude and joy

Two or three years ago, when the BeZine was still the Bardo Group, one of the folks (sorry no longer remember which one, though I think Terry Stewart) wrote a post suggesting that we find a partner with whom to do a text check-in every day.  In this check-in you were to say how you’re feeling and what your intentions are for the day.

When I posted it on FB, a long-time friend suggested that we do it.  Since I don’t “do texting” we settled on daily e-mails and my friend proposed adding three gratitudes.  While we miss days here and there, we’ve very steadily kept up the practice, supporting one another through various trials and on our spiritual paths.  I look forward every day to seeing her check-in, following along with her daily life so much more than I’ve been able to do for years (we’ve lived in different states for the majority of the 40+ years we’ve been friends) and in a way that strengthens our bond at deep levels.

I’ve been working for some years on improving my consciousness of gratitude –more specifically noting what I have to be grateful FOR — and this daily practice has been really good for me to add to my habit of waking up and saying thanks for something and generally trying to note and be thankful for the good stuff more.

While I like gratitude practice and find it subtly boosts my sense of well-being and feels good, I’ve never had the sort of grand, magical transformation of life that many who tout gratitude practice imply will ensue.  I see its value in quiet ways and I believe in its worth as part of a spiritual path so I’m pleased to be doing the practice — but not blown away by it.

So when I recently watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday with Sheryl Sandberg*  I sat up when they spoke quite a bit about stopping to find gratitude and joy.  It intrigued me to note they talked of them interchangeably but that to me they felt different.  My friend and I have both been working on allowing ourselves to be happy — a struggle for both of us — and to spend more time feeling happiness or joy.

As I contemplated gratitude and joy, I felt sometimes they would be the same thing for me (and everything on a joy list would belong as well on a gratitude list) but there are many things for which I feel grateful that don’t necessarily inspire me with joy.  One example I’ve used is utilities (electric, water, etc.).  Aware of how much of the world is lacking one or more of these, I feel very grateful to have them but they’re a little too ordinary to me for me to be beaming with joy because the lights are working (there might be a side debate as to whether I should and I suspect noting joy leads to feeling joy about everything).

I proposed adding “Joy” to our daily check-in and she readily agreed.  I can’t speak for how she’s feeling (though indications are good 🙂 ) but I am finding a much more transformational shift happening by thinking about joy every day.  Since playfulness and joyfulness, etc. are hard for me to experience, the conscious practice of noting joy is bringing it forward for me.  I’m spending far more time feeling up and positive as I find joy in many places.

One day as I tried to switch from a sliver of soap that broke to a new bar of still-wrapped soap–while soapy and in the shower–I kept dropping everything.  At first frustrated, I was muttering, “damn, that’s slippery” when I burst out laughing because, you know, “imagine, wet soap is slippery”.  Then I noted the joy in the laughing and realized small, silly things are enough — and that made me feel joyful.  My friend dubbed it “goofy joy”, which just seems perfect.

I highly recommend finding a check-in buddy with whom to share a mindful tune-in every day — and I really like our additions of gratitude and joy.  If you struggle at all to find the happy, you might find a “joyful” practice to be more transformational than gratitude.  I’d sure be interested in hearing other people’s experiences!

*I”m linking there but they’re taking it down in December, so this will go dead at some point.  They seem to keep changing their minds about how long to make these available and whether to let people embed them.  At this point I can’t find an easy way to embed and since they’re not leaving it up it didn’t seem worth pursuing…

Intuition and me.

I wrote the first draft of this Saturday and the title included “Happy Canada Day” but allergies sidetracked me from getting back to it.  Still wanted to say a belated happy happy to my Canadian friends!

I mentioned recently that I’d be doing a post on intuition — I’m realizing that it’s more a meandering on intuition as I am in a process more than at a place of wrapping it up, but this unfolding has been intriguing to me.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I’ve been working on issues related to an ancestral shut-down of my maternal lineage as “seers”.  So I tend to think of myself as not having much third eye activity–or at least what most experts around me say is a block to receiving the info.

While I have a notion I will be coming to yet-to-be-determined “extra sensing” ability when the muscles finish, I’ve been realizing lately that some degree of good intuitive “knowing” has been there all along.  Beyond that I have no way of knowing what talent or talents the line of seers in my family had since that got shut down long ago so have no idea whether I’ll be leading cops to murders or reading people’s thoughts or “seeing” visions of the future or just expanding the “knowing” I already have…

Since early in the journey I’ve been very good at having a strong sense of which spiritual teachers, books, activities and which alternative healing modalities are right for me and which are not.  In the beginning I wasn’t always good at following my avoid instinct and I wound up unhappily working with a practitioner/teacher or two whom I wound up finding creepy or uncomfortable or just not good at their practice.

But over the years I’ve come to trust it and it has served me well as I’ve moved along the healing process in great strides by heading for this practitioner or that teaching when it called to me as the next step.  For a long time I’ve said no to any healer or teacher or class if it feels off or wrong.  No way to know if I missed something great on the “no’s” but I sure have had some fabulous experiences with amazing therapists and healers whose work has drawn me to say YES.

Lately I’m noticing as things clear and my head opens, if I tune in (a big “if” 🙂 ) my intuition guides me very well on many more things, from which practices to do each day to which errands to run, to types of food I need to eat for a period of time and more.  I see intuition and “the sight” as coming from the same place but esp as having a wider or deeper connection to info outside the normal senses.  But I’m aware the type of “knowing” I experience is also considered to be one of the forms of ESP, so I find myself wondering if this expanding intuitive ability means the muscles blocking my third eye are finally opening.

Can you tell I’m getting antsy to get to the end of the muscle-healing thing and on to whatever is next?  I keep trying to stay in the moment and find the joy, etc.  But when it comes to unwinding and not sleeping and headaches, etc.  I have to admit my basic feeling re: those things and joy is…  not so much.

Anyway, as I note the intuitive ability growing, it’s been interesting to ponder… and wonder what abilities my ancestors had.  Maybe a seance???  🙂