This morning, I'm in my 6am yoga class and directed to choose a word to embody for the practice. I came to the mat not feeling well. Fighting a cold, body aching. The first words that popped into my head were peace and joy. Always my words. I want more peace. I want joy.
Feeling less than joyful, I realized what a struggle it can be to feel joy when you are not well. When you feel incongruent. When you feel estranged from your loved ones. When your loved ones are struggling. Or when you are unable to soothe or support them.
How do you find joy in these moments? Do you "fake it till you make it?" How do you find forced joy? Or as my daughter has eloquently portrayed, sometimes you just choose to feel it. You accept and feel your pain, your angst. You do so, without judgment, resisting the need to beat yourself up. You do so with compassion. You do so, with love.
This morning, I recognize how I hold "my issues in my tissues". How my attempts to meet all of my demands, to be strong and stoic and supportive of family, friends, and all of my clients can sometimes weigh on me. I recognize how important my yoga practice is to me. If not, I hold these emotions in my physical body, particularly in the hips.
So this morning, amidst a challenging workout, I just tried to focus on my breath to stay centered and focused, even though I didn't feel like it. When we finished our hip opening exercises (where we hold most of our emotional energy). I just let it go and had to weep. A sudden release of tears flowed. Weeping for my daughter, weeping for myself. Letting go of what no longer serves me. Guilt, shame, fear, worry.
Can we find joy among the messiness of our lives? Can we laugh and cry together in challenging times? Isn't that the essence of life? Isn't that what joy is all about?
Do you ever give yourself time and space to fully feel without judgment? To move your body in new ways? To open up stuck patterns in your body? Do you ever take time to open up your mind? If so, you might discover a little pocket of joy.
To learn more about the forced joy project, click here
Lisa is part of the New Self Health Movement and the Wellness Inspired Network. When she is not coaching, speaking or writing, you can find her practicing yoga and joyfully sharing Carpe Diem Dance.