Opening to Joy

For a long time I had no idea what joy meant.  I didn’t even know I lacked joy in my life. Turns out I was just trudging along in survival mode, connecting only to the emotions I knew that kept me going all of these years. Joy was nowhere to be found. 

The first time I remember experiencing the intense emotion of joy was after a Mayan abdominal massage treatment. That’s also when I learned how important the abdomen is in releasing everything we’ve repressed in our lifetime and allowing the energy to flow freely throughout the body. My belly was a bundle of tension, tight fascia tissue and my uterus was in hiding. After each session I would have such a sobbing mess of a release the next morning that I knew it was working, even if I didn't quite have a handle on what exactly I was releasing.

One time after a session, the dog trainer was working with Ellie and her fears of someone entering her enclosed space/hurting her {in this case the backseat of the car}. I sat up front in the driver’s side and I have never heard Ellie sound so vicious as the trainer entered the backseat. I could actually feel her fear and sadness beneath the ferocity in my own belly and it was in that moment that I truly knew we were connected. I heaved and sobbed all the way home for both of us as I knew all too well the same fears and sadness deep underneath my sometimes rough exterior. The aftermath of two strong releases of the things that no longer served us was intense. 

The next day I felt immense joy. I felt lighter and more expansive. Everything seemed to glow. It was only then I realized I had never experienced this feeling before {or at least remember it}. This feeling didn’t last more than a couple of days and I thought maybe I could only tap into this through abdominal massage and getting my uterus back in its natural place.

“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It's our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” 
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

My massage therapist took a long sabbatical to have her baby. I was occupied building out the new Embarque. I was not sure how I would access joy again until she returned and was too busy to seek out another provider and drive an hour away. Finally, my project was complete and I realized I gave birth to the most beautiful and tranquil space. Somehow, through listening to what my heart wanted and perservering, I had connected with this place of beauty and abundance inside of me that I never knew existed. 

Once I realized I connected to this beauty and abundance inside of me, I began chanting to Lakshmi many mornings and seeked out meditations to invoke her qualities even more into my life. Why Lakshmi? Two years ago, I was sitting at another yoga studio studying Vedanta philosophy and getting introduced to the yogic deities as representations of the qualities of God. The presenter described the goddess Lakshmi and said she was definitely a part of that space. I remember specifically thinking that I didn't feel connected to her at all. I felt more connected to Green Tara, the female bodhisattva who brings healing and compassion to others.

It wasn't until I built out this new space that I tapped into these innate qualities within me. I cried many times during my meditations and chants to invoke Lakshmi, releasing more sadness and many things that did not serve me. The more I practiced these meditations, the more joy I felt in my heart and I strengthened my faith in a greater spirit, higher power, God...and in myself. I also learned that Lakshmi, Green Tara and Mother Mary are all related in that they are the divine in its feminine form, just from different traditions.

I took a step back and made the decision to make time again each week for the things that have always brought me a sense of joy...cooking, dancing, hiking, reading...and sure enough I started to feel the expansiveness of this emotion more often. I felt joy when I picked out a Christmas tree and drove it to the studio. I felt joy shopping for ornaments and putting gifts together for our members. That joy has continued to spread and my heart has continued to open in so many ways. The more I invoke these qualities through my chanting and meditation practice, my life continues to cultivate abundance in more ways than I could ever imagine. For this, I am truly grateful.