What a powerful little word. What a sociably desirable state of being. Immediately, at least for me, this word inspires an automatic scan through my system, briefly checking whether or not I can detect joy in myself right now. And often enough this is followed by a slight trepidation about it not being particularly prominent in my given state of mind.
Thinking of this little word prompts a string of other connotations to follow: bright, light, sun, energetic, strong, yellow, forceful, ecstatic, rising, abundant and…summer…
What just a little word can do with us. Especially if it is not present. Somehow joy is one of those qualities we feel we don’t want to do without, yet it often is not so readily attainable, which pulls a long a string of “if only”, “I wish”, “something is wrong with me”….
Osho, a great teacher of mysticism once said: If we were to name emotions by simply calling them emotion A, emotion B, emotion C and so forth, and thus strip away all the values, judgments and conclusions we attach to their names, we could actually learn to experience emotions from a place that doesn’t ´prefer´ the one to the other, but simply take and appreciate them for and with the quality that each brings with it, uncensored, not appraised for ´better or worse´.
Say fear, for instance, is an emotion we shun as uncomfortable and unwelcome, whereas it is directly connected with a profound wish to be alive. It procures vulnerability and humbleness and delicacy, all beautiful qualities that we systematically reject when it comes cloaked as fear.
Imagine it like colors, red is different to green, you cannot really compare them to each other. Each has their very own flavor, it is the evaluations and connections we humans make that attach a like or dislike to them. In and of themselves they are simply different.
But back to Joy.
What I experience is that there are two ways joy arises in me. One is that it is inspired by something, usually from the outside, which triggers joyousness as a response. This is what I call “instant gratification joy”. It is waking up to the sun shining into the window. The first cup of tea in the morning. Listening to particular music or seeing a loved one happy. It´s almost like a knee-jerk reaction, pang! There it is.
Unexpectedly it blows up the heart and vibrates in the cells, to the point that sitting still is difficult. It urges me to move and grin, hug, stretch, dance and skip along. It also often passes more rapidly, like a windstorm, passing through with cheerful vigor, clearing the air and then ebbing down once the moment has passed.
And then there is the sort of joy that arises from within. It is a quieter and subtle kind. It often feels like it comes from a faraway place, deep inside, that has patiently made its way past obstacles, pushing aside darkness and doubt, clearing chaos and confusion on its path and suddenly emerging quietly and sweetly, like a soft sun ray cracking open a cloud filled sky, containing the vast possibility of the clear, open sky beyond.
It’s a feeling of joy that comes to provide a foundation, that reminds us that it is always there, possibly not always accessible to us, but never the less, our very own, independent of any outside influence, completely self-sufficient in its radiance and its warmth.
It gives us the deep knowing that we don’t need anything in order to feel joyful. No new dress, no partner, no cookies. It is laden with creativity and gratitude and possibility. In its full glory, just like it is fleeting and omnipresent at once, it has the capacity to hold completion as well as promise.
Have a beautiful summer, and bathe in the joy that arises with this radiant season.
Co-Founder of DIMA Mallorca, Centre for Conscious Living