Happy Spring!!!!  Here’s to renewal and inspiration of all kinds.  For me, I celebrate the return to writing again.  Ok, so this particular writing began back in May 2012, but getting it together to post here is still helping me get back into the groove.  Since I started this writing, SO MUCH has happened and I’d say my perspective has shifted dramatically.  Some in part because my actual life circumstances have changed:  1. My Stepdad’s death (written about in “Holiday of Loss and Lights”) continues to move through my life in various ways, 2. I’ve been shifted to part-time at my job due to a slow season and I kinda feel like I’m starting to wake up some as if I’ve been in a deep sleep.  Interesting how the work has slowed down given what I wrote about last year.  3.  I’m committed to paying off my credit debt and moving more into filling my life with teaching yoga.   So I figured that since I still resonate with what I wrote (and made a few more edits!!!), I wanted to share “Do What Brings You Joy” for the sake of my journey around connecting with Joy.  And it’s cool to get to see how there’s been positive change since these writings!  I’ve moved a little bit along the way and out of the way of some of my frustrations and challenges.  And I have to admit that some of them came simply by nature’s course and nothing that I consciously directed or actively changed.  Hallelujah – I don’t have to be in control of all this stuff!  Remembering THAT brings me joy!  My job is to take care of myself with the guidance of yoga’s principles and to follow my bliss.  Certainly there are NEW frustrations and things to work on now, but I believe life has happened in such a way as to be able to turn the pages to the next chapters.

MAY 2012
In recent weeks in particular but for quite a few months, I’ve noticed that my relationship to my full-time job-life has been feeling kinda yucky.  I’ve felt more irritable and challenged with keeping my peace and I find I want to blame it on some outside things or people.  I’ve been complaining that I spend a lot more hours with work than I want to – whether actually at work, thinking about work/work people or distracting myself so I’m not thinking about my work place. This includes the things that I’m doing and don’t really care to be doing and the things that I’m not doing that I want to be doing – can you relate or did my fine skills of ambiguity lose you?!?  (Though I’m learning that ALL that I AM doing is guided by some higher source and not really something that I can truly take all the credit for.  I’m ALSO learning how to not let that be a way off the hook, just a way into being more compassionate and loving. yay!).  Maybe this is all vague and confusing, but what I mean to say is that I don’t FEEL like I’m giving life my best offerings cuz I don’t always feel the love and joy.  Maybe that’s a big part of the irritability – that there are things that I’m starting to get more hungry for, things that I want and need to dedicate my energy to and haven’t found a way to expand that. Moreover, the energy that I have feels to get drained from this frustration. The thoughts about work also include questions as to whether I want to keep working at this job at all.  Maybe this isn’t so unusual to ask these questions, maybe it’s something that comes and goes for all of us no matter what we’re doing.  And maybe I’m just at a “growing pains” kinda place and it’s tempting my runaway impulse. Or maybe it really is time for a big change!! Well, so if nothing else, I’ve got some things that make me go hmmm…

I’m not far from 3 years full-time into this job and I often hear that that’s a common juncture for the stay or go quandary.  I actually recall that it wasn’t until 3 years into living here in SF that I was I convinced that I wanted to stay here.  Same thing with the dance company, college and well, I have no reference point for a dating relationship because none of mine have lasted that long!  Yes, this feeling has come up with quite a number of things in my life: Family, accepting myself, college, past jobs, being an artist, 12-step recovery, counseling, relationships, etc.  Anyone seeing commitment issues written on the wall here?  So you know Mother Theresa questioned her role all the time she was doing her humanitarian work (NOT that I’m comparing myself to her, just that if even SHE was questioning, then well geez, I feel better that I have questions!!).  She wondered if she was doing what she was meant to do, if her work for G-d was truly the right thing in spite of the spiritual emptiness she felt with G-d. (Read More)  Yet somehow she kept doing her work, having faith somewhere even amidst what’s been called the “arid dessert in her relationship to G-d.”  I wonder what drove her?  Did she feel joy in her work anyway?  What hit me is that what is keeping me going at this job is that I have a good amount of debt to clear!   Ugh.  It feels more about that and less about the passion and interest for the work.  I have a sagging worry around money, survival and identity.  Sort of interesting to note and has been an issue on and off for a while.  So much so that it may cloud my ability to really see what’s in front of me sometimes (Voice from the future: like how cool this job is that I have for example, how much it’s teaching me!!!).  It hasn’t been this way all the time I’ve been at this job.  But lately, these three blinking lights (money, survival, identity) have become the signals that direct the traffic of my fearful self and my practical self.  Gosh that sounds so deadening!!  Is this all really true or am I having a rough spell?  Deep breath….deep breath…..  Is there another way to look at this?  Of course, but I gotta air out these emotions to get myself to the next place!!!!

Something that I want to note here that just hit me that’s pretty powerful is that there are a handful of things that haven’t diminished since I began to practice them in my life (So not EVERYthing has fluctuated after 3 years!):  1. Yoga and my practice in some form or another (hatha, meditation, mantra, yamas/niyamas) since 2001.  2. Eating healthy, on a steady path towards being a conscious eater and co-member of the planet since about age 23.  3.  Building compassion for myself and others.  4.  Quest for self-knowledge.  5.  Respecting the energy of my home and maintaining a healthy living space.  I would also say these are some of the things that bring me joy by the way – these unwavering attitudes and ways of being that have only grown stronger through the years.

I get that I’m being judgmental about what I believe I’m SUPPOSED to be doing.  Some part of me believes there is something ELSE that I SHOULD be doing.  On some days, I have deep acceptance for the exact spot I’ve landed on with life.  There are reasons why choices have been made, for better or for worse and I trust that the next right choice will be made when it’s time.  On other days I’m uncertain or totally baffled how it is my life is the way it is!  I’ve meditated and talked this over with friends in the recent weeks to see what else was buzzing around in my head about all this stuff.  I’ve come up with a few things.  One – that I’m expecting a large part of my happiness to be provided to me by my job.  Two – Perfectionism.  That I’m often not satisfied with what I have and often wondering if there’s something else that I should be doing/should be getting.  Three – I’m not making time in my week to be engaging with the things that bring me joy and spiritual connection.  I’m expecting that my job, which is where I spend the majority of my weekly hours, to be my fix.  Would it be possible to be in my job while resonating with energies in my upper chakras?  I know the answer is yes, but that seems challenging.  When I’ve done work that resonates with my heart, feels loving and respectful to my nature, there have been less voices arguing in my head.  And I will also say, that if I am creating balance with my life’s activities, then all can be ok.  So…I guess I’m not doing that!  Any work could be about selfless service.  It could be work that allows me to speak my truth and share all aspects of myself – my talents, skills and personality.  It could mean being in a place that helps to align my mind, body, spirit connection.  It could be a way of being in the world that works no matter WHAT I’m doing because I’m content with myself in any setting.  And it’s real.  It’s not a pretense where I’m faking happiness and resisting challenges and difficult feelings.  I can invite all that and can accept life on life’s terms, particularly when I am well and taking care of this body.  Hmmm.  Interesting, because I see that I HAVE felt this before at this same job, at all of my work places, relationships, etc. but that they’ve wavered.  So something happens along the way.….  As I learned with other healing work I’ve done in the past, I see that I’m the common denominator here…It’s me that’s outta whack!  Not the things outside of me.  Well, they may be too but I can’t change them exactly (Serenity Prayer).  Ok.  I suppose that it’s possible to have joy and fulfillment no matter what the WHAT is, but I see that I’m wrestling with acceptance and being ok with this job more than I’m sailing on waters of acceptance right now.  I see that my life feels out of balance and I’m questioning my role in it.  What’s helped in the past is to let myself feel these feelings, investigate them (hopefully as a form of self-inquiry versus folding in on myself!) and then see what comes up.  Ok, so here goes:

ONE – Happiness.  In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, we learn that there are basically two states of being:  One is that we abide in our true nature and know peace.  Two: “At all other times” as expressed in Sutra 1.3, we’re taking on the role and behavior of what we think we’re supposed to be doing/being based on our life-material-oriented minds.  We’re doing a dance of our ego in order to find a way to navigate through this dualistic, human experience.  We kinda HAVE to to some extent!  It’s what is offered to us in this lifetime in these flesh sacks.  I’m not sure if this is an absolute, but all I’ve seen is that we’re governed by the design of ego which we either let pattern our lives somewhat or completely unconsciously or learn to right-size and put to good use.  Think of it as a roller-coaster ride of emotions that make us go up and down and around, pulling at our sensorial natures that drive us to act based on this impact of being alive in a(nother) human body.  We either react to all the emotions and develop an overstimulated nature or something off-balance like that, or we numb ourselves out so we don’t have to DEAL with the emotions.  Alternatively, and as the yogic scriptures propose, we can learn to observe the emotions and handle them with clarity, steering towards equanimity no matter which way the roller coaster car takes us.  These are certainly along a spectrum of grays so there are lots of other options as well.  I’m simply getting the few out that have come to mind right away.  Happiness is within.  It’s not something that can be everlasting when found on the outside.  The world is ever-changing and therefore unstable.  Happiness, or any other emotion including anger, joy, lust, etc is temporary when granted to us from the outside world.  If we expect to hold on to what we feel, to wrap our arms tightly around the feeling and never let it go we’ll one day understand that it must be let go or it will simply disintegrate in our very arms.  It’s like trying to hold on to youth or to hold onto how we once saw our child or our lover and we can’t handle that they’ve grown, they’ve changed.  How we relate to life experiences and the emotions that feel electrically charged from experience are guideposts and help us learn but ultimately they are not fixed and pass – the good the bad and the ugly.  True happiness, authentic joy is within and is aligned with our true natures.  Nothing on the outside of us can ever be fully credited with giving us this authentic experience.  Outside things can stimulate these feelings, but the true source of peace and joy, love and light must be found within in order to really know them.  Spiritual practice is the only path out of this maze that I know of and still fumble with.

TWO – Not satisfied/Longing.  Oh boy oh boy.  So perfectionism has been a pattern of mine since I can remember.  I used to view this character trait as something to be proud of, what made me stand out from others.  Perfectionism catapulted my relationships with dancing, painting, health and nutrition, jobs, partners, etc. etc. etc..  I pushed myself so I could be the best, or at least feel like I was.  Though I often say I don’t like competitive things, apparently I did/do.  Wanting to be the best = competitive!  I believe there is a side to this that could be channeled in a positive way – some of that I did and some I didn’t.  In 12-step recovery, I got to learn more about my compulsive energy, how I couldn’t find satisfaction because I wasn’t happy with myself.  I wasn’t clear and needed to do some major house cleaning.  I grew to see it as something to transform, to re-employ asap because it was causing pain.  Changing these habits has been a tough puzzle though because my journey has also been around asking for what I want and learning how to get my needs met.  I think I missed out on getting some basic needs of unconditional love and healthy boundaries as a child.  Somewhere I learned how to spin my lower energies, using sex and my body to find answers in all the wrong places.  And it wasn’t so much that they were the wrong places, just not the places that were able to truly appease my longing.  It became like a drug and on some level I was feeling satisfied.  The 2nd chakra has a dual path: when aligned, we move towards creativity, art.  When misaligned, it lends itself to addiction and compulsion.  Fascinating for me because I’ve experienced both and get how this energy can be directed both ways.  Moving along farther on my perfectionism research, I grew to have a deeper conversation with it and it pointed more towards the deep well of my longing as a recognizable and unavoidable part of this larger picture.  I believe there is a common longing in all of us to know our true selves and we’ll do anything to either get there or disregard and hide this true longing.  This longing has felt like it was hidden in my never-ending perfectionism.  This longing is within our nature – to desire for a meaningful connection, or a reconnection with divine spirit.  Many yogic and other spiritual scriptures discuss this at length.  Here is a paragraph that I found that Swami Krishnanada of the Divine Life Society expresses so well:

Our longings are not an outward movement. Our desires are not actually a physical activity. It is not merely the skin of the body that is asking for final freedom and satisfaction. We have a deeper core that remains in a state of dissatisfaction, due to which it asks for that alone which can free it from this eternal longing, the cause of its dissatisfaction. Many a time we find it difficult to extricate the inner content of our basic longing or aspiration from the external forms it takes when it passes through the shells of the personality, the forms of our individuality, or the sheaths of the body, as we say—the koshas, etc. As the light of the sun may appear to assume different colours and project itself through various rays in convex and concave forms or in distorted shapes, so this real asking of ourselves inwardly, which is wholly spiritual, appears to be a physical asking, a social requirement, an outward comfort that we actually seem to be wanting.

Things that make you go ommmmmm….

THREE – Sadhana/Spiritual practice, Joy and Service.  Because of the time that my work requires, I have often felt depleted and uninspired to do things that I love in my free-time.  Sometimes its simply been a matter of time where I couldn’t get to a 6:00 class because work spilled over.  Likewise, I’ve often been drawn to mind-numbing activities or distractions that I’ve already learned drag me down or at the very least dull my spirit.  For a period, I was playing games on my iphone.  I used to judge others on the train when I saw them transfixed on these silly games, trying to get cars out of a parking lot or launching a bird to see how many blocks could get knocked down.  But after getting obsessed with such a game myself (Bejeweled!), I kind of got what this was doing for me and I suppose for others.  Humbling moment to be doing exactly what I was judging harshly!  I actually think that’s why things happen like this…you judge something, then that something happens to you, then you learn or you don’t while it keeps you feeling restless and irritable!  In some ways, I got that these games stimulated a certain part of my brain for problem-solving and organization of thought.  It also gave me a sense of immediate reward, of success and accomplishment where I might not be feeling that happening in my life.  It just simply let me take a break from thinking about whatever I was thinking about and didn’t seem to want to!  Yes, I do need a break from all these crazy thoughts, but through trial and error, I see what’s worked better:  spiritual practice, fun time with friends, etc.  It’s like a bag of chips or a bag of carrots: I may prefer the taste of the chips at some moments but I know that with regular accumulation, the chips will diminish my health and I’ll still crave them!  While carrots will improve my health and I will eventually crave health over filler!

I’m learning that there are wiser ways for me to be healthy and that I DO NEED to do something.  This is to no fault of my full-time job, just my own shortcomings.  When my work week consumes 50+ hours from my week, it feels that a greater energy is being taken than that because some of what I do, some of the interactions at work weigh heavy on me and I’m not shaking them daily.  Hatha practice, meditation, going to the gym would release all of that, but instead I use the excuse that I’m too tired or can’t get to the class I want so I don’t do them often enough.  I used to hear these excuses from friends of mine and now I’m using the same ones!! It feels that the part of my being that knows these things has shut down in order to do the work that I do.  I say that only to recognize that a part of me fights with how my job fits in with my life’s purpose.  On my best days, I’m aware that my job is in fact aligned with my life’s purpose in that I’m being of service in all areas.  I’m of service to the company, to my co-workers and bosses, to our clients.  I’m there to help bring light and inspiration to others as they are there to help me learn more about myself.  I’m respected, appreciated and compensated well.  If it’s like everything else that I’ve done in my life, then I can also see that it’s exactly what I need to be doing and learning for whatever and wherever I go next.  The part of me that shut’s down is my ego-self.  It has an idea of what my work should look like and how my day’s should go.  Sounds like a perspective shift is needed!  (I think that’s why I was so eager and kinda spontaneous about going to Israel and Paris in July – I knew I needed a great big life experience to hit me over the head!)

I find that I often need to do something for my body in order to get in a healthier frame of mind.  Might just be because that’s been part of my life as a dancer and now as a yogi, but I sense it’s something that is intrinsic in our nature.  After all, that’s the whole mantra of body, mind, spirit!  That can mean eating something nourishing, practicing hatha yoga, doing a mindful workout or experiencing healthy physical intimacy for example.  When I do any one of those things, I seem to feel refreshed and cleansed, ready to do the next right thing.  When I do the opposite of those, I notice cravings arise and the need to find a junk-food replacement roars loudly.  But I get that what I’m doing is searching to answer the true longing within me with outside things and forgetting to look for what’s already with me.

When I do things that bring me joy, it has a tendency to ripple outward.  When others do joyful things and I’m around them, they can and usually have a positive effect on me…unless I’m in a really bad mood.  I can sometimes “fake it till I make it” to have any delight or happiness for that person when I’m in a funk. But I usually get that I just need to have some compassion for myself and await a perspective shift to get my true self to reappear.  The actions that I take which help me feel stronger and more myself can register with others with positive energy and send messages of like energy.  It’s nearly so much to say that I feel a responsibility to others to be the person that I want to see around me.  (Be the change you want to see in others – Thank you Gandhi!)  And when others do nice things that come my way, it makes a difference!  It may be a simple smile or hug.  It may be my roommate doing my dishes before I could get to them.  It may be a friend who’s offered to help me create a budget plan to help me move out of debt.  It may be noticing a young skateboarder offering his seat to an elderly woman on the train.  When I either notice kindness in others or receive it from another myself, I’ve been aware that it shifts my mood in a very positive way.  It’s why I like to offer students to smile while in Matsyasana (fish pose).  Not just to stretch the neck muscles, but to practice sending joy out across to others.

(This refers back to June when written)

I’m on a 3-day cleanse right now and it’s the first night.  A handful of my co-workers are joining in the cleanse and it’s cool that my boss Stanlee offered this to us.  It’s the nicest cleanse I’ve ever heard of with such fancy pre-made concoctions to drink nearly every hour!  It’s called the Can Can Cleanse – glass mason jars filled with delicious organic ingredients.  Stanlee was inspired by a friend and in turn, inspired us.  How cool is this to receive this gift from my boss at my workplace?!  Ok, I love my job.  I take back all the negative things I was feeling.  I just had a perspective shift!  🙂  For some folks and at times for myself, I’ve seen work become simply a wheel-turning cycle of a rote existence.  Void of being a place of true creativity and expression of my nature.  And there are other days where the day flies by and I’m absorbed by what I’m doing and focused on the task at hand.  Sort of like absorption spoken about in yogic scriptures but NOT exactly.…   Ok, back on track…and that’s exactly my point here:  This cleanse is timely and helping me get back on track.  Not just with rebuilding a healthier diet, but with my focus in general – how I’m spending my time and how I’m taking care of myself.  Recently, I did a 40-day practice of abstinence and observation (yamas and niyamas) and it was a powerful period of learning about myself in this current date.  I will say that I didn’t do a perfect job or even a great job.  What was powerful is that I stayed committed to holding myself to the 40-days and didn’t opt to start over or stop, but to keep holding to this time as a period to honor no matter how good or bad I thought I was doing.  I trusted that there was a power and significance to honoring this time.  It was similar to counting sobriety days but rather than starting over if there was a slip, I picked myself up as quickly as I could and kept going in order to honor the entire journey as one experience – in order to move away from judging my experience as good and bad but to see the whole time as one spiritual experience.  There are many stories with the 40 days/40 nights present in them, many from religion and such, so I felt this would help energize my experience, connect me with something greater than myself.  Plus, I invited a couple of others from my Integral Yoga family to join and we had each other as a support system.

Though this cleanse is only for 3-days, it specifically addresses my relationship with food and cravings.  It’s wild.  The truth is that I think I’m hungry and I eat.  But what am I really hungry for?  Do I always know?  And once again, I’m not strictly talking about food.  I’m talking about anything that I ingest, about any relationship with mind and body.  I’ve spent a great deal of time with a practice of being vegetarian and now vegan (since 2005) and I consider this lifestyle an ongoing cleanse in many ways.  While I do my best, I still have an occasional donut that’s not vegan and cookies or sweets at work.  My sugar craving has been constant most of my life aside for those handful of years back when I was dancing and after a period of dedication to healing an injury by avoiding sugars.  I don’t have very high expectations for this cleanse simply because it is relatively short and because at this very moment my cravings are high and I’m not sure I’ll finish.  I want food!  I’m not sure I’m gonna make it through!  One thing that helps is knowing that my co-workers are doing it too – support system again!  That inspires me to try harder, to recognize the strength I can call up to help me through.  The strength of others working together for a common goal helps!  Whatever is the outcome, I trust it will be helpful.  (I made it through the cleanse by the way)  🙂

The other thing that helps is the sense that I’m enduring this challenge, this pain for the purpose of purifying my body and mind.  I know this as tapas, one of the Niyamas where Patanjali speaks of accepting pain for the purpose of purification.  I’m doing this not just as an exercise of discipline which it very much is, but as part of my yogic lifestyle.  Again, this gives me strength to know that I’m doing this for a greater cause, that the effort may be helpful in my liberation and may offer strength to others.  I KNOW that I need to burn off some bad habitual patterns and that I need to take a good look at my daily life.  It feels off-balance and my stress levels are running too high too often.  This is why a hatha practice is so important.  I’ve certainly learned that from past years though my recent months have seen an inconsistent hatha practice.  Why am I not doing this practice that brings me joy?!?!  I long to be able to have that balance which is why my mind was recently turning to quitting this job so that I could have better control of my time.  Is that the answer or is that the easy way or the running-away way out of satisfying my sense of control.

Tapas holds the primary principles of yoga in the way that heat can bring change and transformation.  Heat that cleanses and makes space to rethink, renew, reconfigure.  With tapas, pain is accepted as the resource for making change.  Anything that we want to change, any habit we want to break will be painful to some degree.  If we always shy away from it, we get addicted to thinking that life should always make us feel good, pleasurable and we should never feel pain or disrupt this illusion of pleasure.  We become unable to deal with the truth of nature’s ways.  Things grow, reach for the sun.  Other things fall away, dry up and die.  Life is called forward by the churning and disintegration of the life that came before.

Why do we do things that don’t bring us joy, that we don’t love to do?  Where does this make sense in this bag of bones and chittis (mind-stuff)?  I’ve found that there are these clever little things called habits and then the complicated outcome of habits known as addictions.  Our mind and body become fixed on these and actually are biologically and mechanically driven by these impulses.  There is a spiritual imbalance that is also occurring which results from giving into distractions and is activated by the lesser power of the chakras.  The power can either splinter towards the lower energies or resonate with the higher energies.  The idea of:  One is too many, 1000 is never enough comes as a lesson about addiction.  It’s that feeling of longing or of something missing that gets wired to find some sort of drug.  We have the right idea that we want to feel better, but we just need to re-employ the agent that’s taking the action to heal when we’re using something that may also cause harm.  And rather than declaring that anything is “wrong”, I choose to work with this awareness as information.  Not like in a super duper clinical way….well maybe a little.  Mostly, I choose to take it to heart which means without judgement but with love and respect.  I look at it like a baby crying for something and not knowing for sure what it wants.  In time, the infant learns to ask for particular things just as we mature all through life and do the same (or have some greater or lesser opportunity to do…).  I mean, this is all about life research in my mind and why are any of us drawn to do any of the things we do?!?!  It’s all so interesting!

How to bring more of what you want into life -more joy, more love?  Well, I’m not sure you can force it.  We may feel we want it so badly and willing to do anything, but is it something that can be pulled from the outside in or do we need to learn to cultivate it more from within and bring it out?  The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali propose that all happiness comes from within – that lasting happiness can not be found outside of ourselves.  All experiences outside of ourselves ultimately bring pain.  With a practice of yoga, referring to the 8-limbs as discussed by Patanjali (Book 2 sutra 14), we are able to move toward the painless experience of being in this life.  A high bar but one that I’ve been able to get closer to understanding when I’m less pulled along for the roller coaster of emotions with life experiences.  Certainly, we can surround ourselves with people, places and things that may help shift and shape our mood and experience, but ultimately, these are only helpful guides or life-markers and not the source of what we wish for.  When we believe these things are the source, we will become disappointed, frustrated and abandoned.  My dance career and those that I was connected with from those years comes to mind right away.  Dancing and being a dancer were the sources of my creative expression for years.  With that life came a sense of fullness, happiness, love and creative expression.  Without it came a loss of all of those things.  I was forced into asking some hard questions about who I was/believed I was.  Take away that thing which helps me identify with who I am and what am I left with?  This was the incredible journey that brought me to accept that life is mysteriously weaving experiences together to create a perfect tapestry.  I needed to let go of this dance career in order to understand what more my heart was searching for, to understand what greater joy and peace was inside.  It doesn’t feel logical to find more of what you’re looking for by taking away the thing that you thought woke you up each day!  But I’m learning that I need more than logic to find peace.  The mind can only figure all of this out so far – the heart holds the keys to this conversation!

So just for today, do something that brings a smile to your face and see what happens.  And if a smile doesn’t make it to your face today, trust that it will another day.  And if you’re worried that it won’t, look to something that you consider to hold beauty and give it all of your attention for a few minutes…just give it a try. We live in a time where doing what brings you joy is still considered a luxury in certain parts of the world and certain frames of mind.  When I was in India, I learned a lot about joy.  My mind would say that someone who is living in destitution and poverty, without a change of clothes or electricity could not find joy.  But after seeing so many in this exact situation, exuding a joy that brought tears to my eyes and humility to my heart, I knew there was something for me to learn, something deep within that I hadn’t accessed.  I got that my viewpoint was stunted because of the culture that I lived in which subtly or loudly describes what makes a happy person.  What I began to understand is that I was missing something intrinsic to my nature that they had been able find.  The meaning and experience of joy is a relative experience versus a standard practice for all; what joy means for one may be hell for someone else!   A very simple example that came to mind the other day –  I experience joy when I do my laundry and fold clean clothes…not the same for everyone! So experiment and remember that you deserve to thrive and feel joy.  No, it may not come every minute of every day, but have faith that it will be there to teach you at exactly the right time.

Last thoughts:  Sometimes we think it’s joy but it’s something else.  I could suggest it’s a bad habit that we think brings us joy but we don’t know any different.  Drinking and getting drunk on a regular basis or overeating can feel like joy at a certain point of it, but then there are parts to it that end up feeling awful.  But usually we forget those parts so we can hang on to the distraction that it offers.  Cultivating a practice and a community that helps you stay aligned with your purpose can help.  If you’re needing some help jump-starting these areas, let me know – I can help with yoga!  And what I’ve also learned – helping others and being of service not only saves my life, but it brings me joy.

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