At this, physically the darkest time of year, it’s easy to get swamped by that darkness. And the reality is, life has its blackness. People can be fantastic--and horrible--to each other. We experience greatness, and bleakness. At the holidays we’re told to feel nothing but togetherness and wonder and beauty. I never want to tell someone else how to feel, because sometimes our experience includes pain. But, in addition to that pain, I invite you to seek out “AND. “ As in, “This was really tough, AND…X beauty exists in the world.” I invite you to also cultivate Pockets of Joy.
Just as it can become habitual to expect or focus on the hard things (and honestly, that’s probably a function of our evolution—to prepare and look out for dangers!), we can also create habits of cultivating, seeking and reveling in joy. Big joys, like the miracle that is every baby. Little joys, like how frost is lit by morning light. Like your morning mug of hot wonder (that for me is tea!). Like friends who make you laugh and let you cry. Like watching your young adult child’s patience and generosity with an aged relative. Like appreciating everything your body CAN do and not just focusing on what it can’t.
This seeing is a habit that can be developed just like any other habit. Author Melody Beattie in her book Journey to the Heart puts it this way:
Too often, “…we’re drawn to things that drain us, exhausting our body, depleting our soul.” She reminds us that “the world is a spa, a nature retreat, a wealth of healing resources.” But we skate right past so much of the good. Instead, she urges us to see it, and to FEEL it. “Pet a puppy, stroke a piece of velvet, listen to a symphony. If you can’t slow down enough to absorb the energy the first time, do it a second time and a third. Absorb the healing energy until you can hear your voice, hear your heart tell you what would feel good, what would bring peace, what would bring stillness and joy.”
Just like our yoga practice, the more we seek out Pockets of Joy, the more natural it becomes. Cultivating joy is a habit worth practicing. It brings balance and perspective for when the more challenging elements of life arise. It’s more than happiness, which is circumstantial. When we’re infused with joy, we see the world differently, as bigger and more than any one moment. Drink in the light and there’s less chance the darkness will take over.
I've taught and lived yoga for more than 20 years. I know it can be intimidating. But it can also be fun--and rewarding--regardless of your starting point or challenges. On this blog I share some of the yoga wisdom that sustains me.