Studying the Yamas (Yoga’s guidelines for Joyful Living – Deborah Adele*) has been a beloved practice for years, but this last round unlocked a secret for me: all my “searching” and “grasping” for joy and wonder in my life is exactly what has kept me from it!
Searching and grasping for wonder and joy is exactly what has kept me from it!
At this time of year, whether due to last minute shopping, too many parties, final exams, family dynamics, whatever, everyone seems a bit more frantic than usual. I have been observing “frantic” in me. I feel it in my body as my muscles tense, bunching up ready for the next to-do. My nervous system is also wired for action, a buzz, that leaves me with a shorter fuse, and an almost jittery dissatisfaction. I unconsciously look for “rewards” or “treats” to feel better. My treats are invariably carbs, which I tend to already over-do, feeding my sensations of ramped-up and tense. I am fully into excess: excess eating, excess shopping, excess to-do’s, excess chatter in my head.
What drives franticness – really?
Excess awakens greed in us: more is always better. Look at your checkbook/credit card bill to see what you really worship. (And really look deeply into the why’s, the how much of, etc.) Tracing my choices back to their root impulses, I found that old core wounds of wanting to feel loved, worthy, beautiful, even perfect (for ex) are subtle drivers behind my “frantic busy.” For example: I have to find the perfect gift (ie thing) to give to someone in order to feel good about myself. I spent literally hours one morning (ok, two mornings) researching options regarding a gift request. I see this pattern reflected in the world around me.
Experiencing the wonder, awe, & joy of life each moment.
In light of my deeper awareness re greed and excess in me, I turned this month to Brahmacharya – a yogic concept often translated as “walking with God” but really about experiencing the wonder and awe and joy of Life in each moment as we walk through life. Certainly in this season which is so much about Love, Life, and Light we should experience the wonder and presence of the divine, in all of life. Excess and greed are the very antithesis of Brahmacharya. I felt how excess was keeping me from walking through life with wonder and awe. This practice is a chance to take the “platitudes of faith” and truly live them. Ann Patchett said, reflecting on her year of no shopping … “in our constant craving for what we still want, we miss life’s details.”**
Settle for nothing less than wonder & awe.
I put a post-it on my fridge a few weeks ago: “settle for nothing less than wonder and awe.” (thanks Ms. Adele) I notice when I shift into frantic and I pause, breathe, feel my body, look around. Always wonder and awe were right there! Perhaps in a slender, crystalline ice-coated pine needle; or Jessie flopping on her back in the snow to make doggy snow angels; or a client moving in a new freer range of motion; or in my car on the highway, seeing people’s faces (some looking happy, some looking pinched) and I feel compassion and awe in the vast individuality of all life. It’s endless.
Become a spigot for wonder & joy!
The last few days, Joy and Gratitude seem to spontaneously bubble up. Yes, my house is messy, I have to-do’s that are weeks late, and I get to sit in the midst of it all AND feel Wonder, Awe, Gratitude for my life, my dog, my family, my friends, my work … I find the more it bubbles up, the more I long to share it, not in any formal way, but in chatting with the grocery cashier, the phone agent at Spectrum cable, the students who show up for class, … in my presence. I can be a light in the world, now that I have found it in myself. And the more I share, the more it bubbles up!
I recall my earliest Yoga Teacher telling me, be a spigot for what you desire – then it has to run through you. Finally I understand this wisdom. I am becoming a spigot for wonder, awe, and joy.
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