How Often Do You Experience Joy?

Blue Horses poetry bookThis question has lingered in my mind since it was asked on a form I was filling out for my first reflexology session with my friend and reflexologist Lori Sweet. The question stopped me. I had no idea how to answer it. And, I began to ask myself “what is joy for me?”

Yoga teaches that joy – ananda – resides in the subtlest aspect of our being. It is there for all of us, yet may seem elusive, even mysterious.

After reflecting on this question, I can best describe the feeling of joy to be a profound opening of myself to all that is around me: it is a connection and a deep gratitude. It may be brief or linger, a glow in the sky of my being after the sun slips below the horizon.

Yoga teachings tell us we have a choice whether to move toward joy or away from joy. We have to reflect on what brings us “non-joy” and say “no” to that. The great gift of yoga is a quieting of the mind, which helps us to discern those things that bring us joy and those bringing us “non-joy.”

This morning after returning from the veterinarian with my most lovable fluffy 14-year-old kitty, Bagheera, I sat in the chair in the living room with a cup of coffee. Looking out the window to the snow clinging to the sycamore, I could feel myself leaning into a space of inertia. Bagheera was going to OK, but I was slipping into malaise with the day.

I don’t think I was conscious of making a choice, but I did pick up a book of poetry my husband had given me for Christmas. The poet was Mary Oliver. I read poem after poem until I reached “Franz Marc:s Blue Horses,” in which the poet imagines herself stepping into the painting “Blue Horses.” The poet reflected on the painter who “died a young man, shrapnel in his brain,” but also on the beauty of the blue horses in the painting and her gratitude.

I do not know how to thank you, Franz Marc.
Maybe our world will grow kinder eventually.
Maybe the desire to make something beautiful
is the piece of God that is inside each of us.”

I read the poem again and again, and then found myself holding the book close to my heart. It broke me open to something beyond the living room and the snow and the sycamore. I realize now I had made a choice to move toward joy. And that has made all the difference in my day.

So what about you?
How does joy feel to you?
What are you going to connect to that will bring you joy?


3 thoughts on “How Often Do You Experience Joy?

  • January 26, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    Your well written post has made me think today. I was a little “down” this morning….no particular reason….maybe the weather. When I read your post I thought my answer is “not too often.” Then I counted my blessings. I shall deliberately look for joy, not just in the celebratory occasions, but in the small every day events of life.

  • January 26, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Thanks so much. I am in that place of being in the question. More to come

  • January 27, 2015 at 6:44 am

    Oh, dear Elizabeth – what better way to begin the day than with you, Lori,
    Mary Oliver and the Blue Horses. While pondering the question, a recent experience
    came to mind of finding myself in the presence of a person who has been something of a nemesis for me and being totally surprised by the degree of warmth that spread
    throughout my entire body, realizing I wanted to hug that person with total acceptance. Joy? I think so though not at all the way I would normally define it
    though it clearly was a breaking open of my heart in a totally unexpected way.
    Thank you. Margee

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