We were sitting on the floor in a circle, the sweat slowly drying on our warm bodies, now limber from 57 minutes of moving to music (some call that dancing).
“I think I found a new addiction… JOY!”, she said.
This was her first Embody class, and she had found her Joy.
I sat there in awe. So simple, yet so profound…. Addicted to Joy.
And so I’ve asked myself, what would that actually be like?
For sure I’ve been addicted to food, keeping others happy, and I hate to say this, but I think I’ve been an worry addict and I didn’t even know it!
But addicted to joy?
That changes everything.
It means I’d be constantly noticing what might go right. I would be enthralled and enamoured by beauty. I’d linger and savour any kind of pleasure, without sabotaging the experience part-way. I’d let myself step into the flow of love and be carried and held through life. I’d willingly let my lips turn upward into a smile and let my whole body smile along with them when something tickled my fancy. Which means I’d probably make more space in my life for what I really want, desire, and turns me on. Which for sure would mean stepping into the uncomfortable space of letting go and saying ‘No’ to what I’ve outgrown.
Like swapping a laissez faire house clean for a consistently tidy dining room table.
Stopping work 10 minutes earlier to make homemade hummus for lunch.
Turning off the TV to go for an evening walk, barefoot in freshly mowed grass
Joy is not extravagant.
So how does 57 minutes of dancing connect you to your joy?
I’ve been pondering that this morning.
Sure there are some kick-ass tunes like Ultra Nate’s ‘Free’, and Rihanna and Calvin Harris’s ‘We Found Love’ that can get the Joy juices flowing, but as you probably know for yourself, good beats are not enough. You can listen to the best tunes in the world but if you’re feeling like shit inside, they just piss you off (at least they do for me.)
So what’s the trick?
I think it boils down to two things… Getting out of your head and embracing your suffering.
Note to self… you don’t feel joy in your head. You can’t “think” joy into action. But you CAN feel it in your bones. Which means letting your body start to run the show. Inviting it to notice the pleasure, what feels good and delicious, and give permission for MORE.
And although a utopian world of constant ecstacy might seem like the way forward, we’d get bored of even that.
Five years ago I spent the summer with my sister in Idaho and it was blue sky and sunshine for 2 months straight. Coming from 5 years of what Brits call summer, I was stoked. Until about 6 weeks in.
The constant sun got to be too much. I needed rain.
Just as constant light is too much. We need darkness otherwise we go insane.
Constant joy would also send us helter-skelter. We need suffering to know and appreciate what is well and good.
As a society we’ve mastered Joy-avoidance. We try to numb our hurts, sorrows, and anger with stimulants, distractions, and temporary feelings of pleasure. But that’s not Joy.
We try to fight them off, resisting and preventing failures and losses so that we can stay in the state of ‘everything is fine’. But that’s not Joy either.
We try to comfort the discomfort, surrounding ourselves with more. More shoes, more food, more cars, more of MORE; manufacturing a facade of abundance. For sure that’s not Joy.
Our capacity for joy is only as deep as our capacity for pain.
Any guru or wise-one will tell you that.
And yet hearing it still doesn’t create it. We have to walk (or dance) into the darkness, in order to find the light.
Funny, that’s what we do at Embody.
I’ve never been one to willingly embrace the dark. I was a night-light girl, and have tried all those above-mentioned tricks to stay away from my own shadow.
I’d even storm out of bars when the music got a little too grungy and dark for me.
But I was only living a fraction of my life. Far from embodying all of me.
This past year, I have started to collect more fractions of me, and the key has been to start with my body.
Between Somatic Experiencing therapy, and layering on the teaching and practice of Embody, my capacity for experiencing the full range is growing. I am not so afraid of the dark anymore. And I am no longer dimming the light.
Perhaps I am also addicted to Joy.
Here’s a few tips to connect with your body and make room for your darkness and your light.
- Put on a gentle song like this, and just let your body sway from side to side. Notice if your body wants to move in any other way. Trust it and follow the movement.
- Start a “Fuck You” list. Say a big “fuck you” to anyone or anything that makes you mad or has caused you pain. The first step is always Awareness, so give space for what you might be feeling inside.
Want to connect to your body and dance through your full range at Embody? Check out the schedule here.