Thursday, April 2, 2015

Joy: The Sequel

"So I commend the enjoyment of life, For there is nothing better for a person under the sun to eat and drink and be glad"
Ecclesiastes 8:15

     Yes, I used the same scripture as a blog heading just a few days ago. Apparently I am not done with this topic! I have been meditating on this scripture for awhile and also remembering that "The Joy of the Lord is our strength". It's amazing to me that joy makes us stronger. But here's the truth of the situation. I really wrote that last blog as a kind of cathartic exercise to try to get rid of some angst I had been feeling about someone else's complete lack of joy. Ironic at the very least, also pretty judgmental and a little prideful of me to try to will another person to be joyful. There is an older woman I have been working with  meddling in her life that I care about a lot who unfortunately has a very dissatisfied worldview which results in a joyless demeanor. Her lack of joy has manifested into painful physical symptoms that limit her ability to move and further decrease her joy, a downward spiral that I cannot stop no matter how many blog posts I write about it. Another irony is that I am 99% sure she doesn't read my blog anyways. So, my best "yoga therapy: has not shifted this womans demeanor, My best attempt at encouraging her to be joyful fell on stony ground. My blog didn't even reach her and in all of my attempts to shift and change this person I have suppressed my own joy.

     I guess I am a slow learner, or perhaps overly emotionally invested here but it took me awhile to remember that resistance is the cause of suffering and if I resist her suffering I only add my own suffering to hers. Perhaps it is her lot to suffer, perhaps she has played this role for so long it is a comfortable old shoe. Perhaps I am misperceiving her and she's really a female Walter Matthau reveling in being a grumpy old person. None of that matters. What matters is that I want to increase the joy in the world and resisting her suffering is not the way to do it. All lessons really do lead back to being in the present moment and accepting what is. 

      So, back to the Ecclesiates quote! There is nothing better under the sun than eating and drinking? We'll lets not forget the "be glad" part. A little bit of something delicious always makes me glad, a lot of it usually makes me ill. A cocktail or two drunk mindfully and joyfully indeed makes me glad. A cocktail or three drunk to escape always makes me sad. I do not think I am alone in this, less really is more.  So it is not just the eating and drinking that brings joy but the act of being present and mindful as we eat and drink. Stopping to say grace and really smell, taste & see our food. Preparing it with gratitude, remembering how fortunate we are to have food. Paying attention to the moment we are full and stopping  Before getting that martini shaker down really sitting still for a moment and examining if we are looking for an escape or perhaps just a little icing on the day. Anything we use to escape the present will stifle our joy and in turn weaken us.

     Whatever happens with this woman is not my responsibility. I can and will continue to work with her in a loving manner, I will endeavor to be present and nonjudgmental with her. I will not disengage just because I cannot "fix" her. I will remember that maybe she doesn't need fixing and even if she does it is ultimately each persons responsibility to "fix" themselves and offer themselves to God to refine. And,it is accepting this cranky old person for exactly who they are that opens the door to joy. If there is anyone in your life that you are trying to "fix" besides yourself you are stifling your joy. I may have to write a thousand more blogs on joy before its all said and done. But, you know there are some things worth fighting for and joy is right at the top of that list. Our spiritual growth is like a garden. we have to till the soil getting rid of obstacles and we have to plant seeds to see blooms. But without joy in the soil all we get are weeds, joy is our fertilizer, joy is our strength and joy is our inheritance. Joy to you today!

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