Joy: A Way of the Heart

Last week my social media manager asked me to define joy since it has been my focus for July. In Chinese medicine, summer is the month of the heart and the natural emotion most connected with the heart in this system is joy. It is part of the rhythm of Nature. Her question made me realize I didn’t have a ready answer. After some thought and contemplation, I came up this understanding:

Joy, for me, is the experience where my mind is free and my heart feels its own passion …like a song for the soul that evokes enormous exhilaration and power to move mountains for a greater delight in all!

I realized that I cannot speak of joy outside of my own experience. It is not just a concept out there, a definition that is outside of my lived experience or wisdom gained.

As the weekend unfolded, a bigger picture of joy stirred my heart. I facilitated a Reiki Retreat last weekend and the magic of the cosmic energy that flowed through the group brought much peace and joy to me and the participants. Some finally found a touchstone of what is true for them in that place of joy and peace. What could not be overlooked, however, is this joy that people felt was born out of our individual awareness and experience of our own suffering; difficult and often painful life experiences where darkness overwhelmed.

Recently, a client sent me a documentary about horses and new ways that real master horse trainers are working with these magnificent beings. In the documentary, a photographer captured incredible shots of the pain horses experience with many of the techniques and equipment used today, explaining the real physiology of horses’ backs, noses and mouths. The contrast between these pain photos and the footage of these master horse trainers ‘inviting’ and ‘unifying in awareness’ with the horse was both agonizing and joyous. To watch the horse and master trainer be together in ways the mind is free and quiet – and where their passion exhilarated both into dance and free expression – stirred the passion in my own heart, my own song of the soul.

It was being present to the whole experience, being completely aware of the whole of the group’s experience at the Retreat that made real the joy for me.  It made me curious as to whether we can actually experience joy without the awareness that pain is simultaneously being experienced by its side. Perhaps that’s where joy’s power lies. It anchors alongside suffering or pain or difficulty so we can find our way out of this darkness. It serves as the balance and the freedom from this darkness.

However, too often we can’t see joy for the darkness. When I look back at some of the most difficult times of pain and inner suffering or darkness that I experienced in my awakening, healing and forgiving the past, I recognize what a gift my young niece and nephew were at the time. They brought such wondrous curiosity, natural joy and enthusiasm to life, to learning, to everything around them. I stepped away from my darkness of mind for a time and revelled in the joy of reading a children’s book with great pictures, playing Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Woods behind our house, or playing little games with our dog and cat friends. They were a saving grace to me …Universal Balance.

Today, I’m much less concerned with needing to escape pain or ‘suffering’ that I might have formulated in my own mind. What I am learning to do is go and be with the joy that is around me. Sometimes, it takes me longer to see it, but I can always find joy now.  And when I do find it, my mind becomes free and still for a moment and I can revel in the bliss of life. I really do want to dance and sing. Universal Balance happens and the pain shifts.

So I ask you: Where do you find joy? What is your experience of joy? Come and let’s be open to this journey this season, a journey of the heart.