Cultivating joie de vivre

…has never been more important, or elusive-seeming, so how do we conjure up, specifically, grounded joy, rooted in the body, during such challenging times?

(As doing the research that led to my retrospective post the other day reminded me) a relentless sense of my own joy of life has always been one of my defining traits, as it were, rescuing me from some very hard times, even way back when as a child feeling quite helpless in situations that traumatised me. As an adult now dealing with chronic health challenges, I have come to regard it as an utterly essential ingredient of life, so much so that I cringe when I watch so many people loose their grip on it (not that I blame them in the circumstances) because of perceiving themselves as victims of those circumstance, knowing as I do that unless we take our own personal steps to summon up a deep joy of life, we are lost. As in, we are left with nowhere else to go but “out” of life, albeit mostly as a very slow process of gradually dying on the inside, inch by sorry inch, first through loss of engagement with life’s many gifts, as though we can no longer perceive them through the smog of worry and then, so often, via health issues that drastically curtail our lives.

To halt that process and take the reins back, we must take charge of our own joy quota and do whatever we can to embody it, not to idealise it as a state beyond all care, outside of physicality as though joy is what we refer to as heaven, but in a physical sense hung around with all our most human traits. Thus the phrase joie de vivre has it covered for me, as in, referring specifically to “the joy of life”; a kind of joy that is because of life, not separate from it. People say how can I have this when “things” are so dire and I would say go after it, make it happen, yes from your soul, but then once you have found ways to bring it into your body, those outside circumstances will start to change!

And if we really have no clue how to do this, if it sounds unfeasible, I ask you to refer back to when you were a child because, as children, we knew how to do this far more innately than we tend to quickly recall as adults…though its possible to bring that recollection back, to make it more accessible, oil it through frequent use, by starting to reconnect with our inner child.

Learning your own personal “joy tools”

In our house, we cultivate joie de vivre as an essential; so, when one of us loses it, someone else is ready to pick them back up with a nudge. Be it via laughter or fooling around acting our shoe size more-so than our age, taking the time to appreciate the minutiae of nature or food and marvelling out loud at things rather than letting them be taken for granted, deep diving pools of nostalgia to find other times when we were particularly joyful, plunging into our interests with no apologies for the degree of obsession, sashaying around the kitchen to a favourite song, flipping each other with tea-towels or play-fighting, marvelling at birds or clouds or raindrops, going off into really great ideas we can’t wait to elaborate and bounce off each other, losing ourselves in harmless fantasy and make-believe, reviving our favourite comedies and programs from when we kids until we feel we really are again, playing games together and being creative alone, stomping in puddles and chasing around the garden, plus at least a dozen other things I could mention, we have found…repeatedly…that the vibe of life’s joyfulness is highly contagious; an investable quality that quickly pays dividends. Most importantly, that when we make the effort to cultivate and maintain it, we are protected from the worst of the slings and arrows of life that come at us. It’s as though we form a bubble of positivity around us; one that can never let us down or be taken from us because it’s an insider job so you don’t just sit here waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Of course, you learn your particular tools for cultivating this thing; it doesn’t always arrive fully fledged and you have to want to make it your reality. When there’s at least two of you like this, you can take responsibility for nudging the other out of the doldrums before their bubble dissolves and, in that way, you manage to keep both of you riding a few feet above the grittiest of “realities”. If you do happen to be on your own, there’s still nothing to stop you from learning your joy-tools and making it a daily priority to draw on them; and we each have our own so the key is to look back across your life and identify them, and use tools to take you back there. This is where the non-linearity of life becomes a superpower because you can go back to a time when you were plugged into joie de vivre and, as it were, live there for a while; as I have been doing on and off lately, with remarkable results. Its one of the prime reasons I don’t feel so sucked into the plughole of these times…because I can be elsewhere on demand. Some people are far too quick with their scorn when it comes to indulging in nostalgia, as though it is to seek to live in the past more than the present, but the difference here is that you are merging elements of both times to help you to ride over the bumps and, in my experience, it feels like the more circumspect “me” of now is also “going back” to play an instrumental part in that earlier part of my life in ways that now make perfect sense to me…times when I felt I had an angel looking over me, only, perhaps it was my future self!

Its not about losing touch with who I am today: I have never been more present, but there is such a strong sense of being able to dip my hand in a great big bag of tools and pluck out the very best implements for the job, once I stop feeling like the victim of now and regard all of my lifelong experiences as a power-pack that is mine to make the most of. I can shape-sort that lifetime into its varying frequencies and pull out the joy vibe to make more of it, once I regard life in this way. This instinct in me reflects the premise that life does not unfold in a strictly linear sense (as we have been conditioned to believe) but is subject to a series of wave like movement. From that perspective, the time we are in now might, from an individual’s perspective, have more in common, thus bare comparison with, a time (say) 40 years ago so, when we make that link in our mind, it can become possible to navigate the necessary breakthrough far easier, more adroitly, than if we hadn’t garnered that previous experience of working with “the darkness” that seems to present, by heading straight for the lighter frequencies that helped-out before and then amplifying them (more on that later). At this point, I will refer you to a recent article about the non-linearity of human progression along timelines by my mentor in all things Nine Waves of Creation related, its author Dr Carl Calleman.

On-topic words from Lee Harris as I write this post: “It’s really important to find what lights you up and to find that moment, because it is going to be a slow process, this dismantling, but if you remember that and if you are able to go, “Okay, yep. There’s some crazy stuff going on in the world, and if I’m expecting the world to look like it did 10, 20, 30 years ago, I’m not going to get what I want. But if I’m willing to look at what can I do today? Who can I be today? Who can I help today? What can I receive today? What can I be grateful for today? And can I remember that today I’m alive?” ⁣

Embodying joy

Its all very well to draw on the qualities of serenity and peace to try and navigate hard times but sometimes they just don’t feel vital enough, as in, they lack the feeling of blood pumping through flesh, of the sheer dynamism it takes to assert that you really want to be alive and to thrive in an animated human body, in a very real and practical “day-to-day” sense. Being the serene monk on a mountain is all well and good when you have a remote mountain to sit upon but it really doesn’t look much like an embodied life so much as “I’m out of here, tell me when the worst is over”. To make a difference and assert we really want the world to continue, albeit in a more positive vein, we have to stake our claim to our humanity, made of flesh and blood.

The thing is, so many of us have become jaded with embodied life because we are convinced it is all about pain and overwhelm, victimhood and hardship. We might not feel this so much if we at least tried to embody Who We Really Are in that flesh and blood part of us that struggles all the time, but that seems so impossible to do that we stumble at the first hurdle. Our highest aspect would make easy work of so many of the things that challenge us “down here” on a daily basis, we know it; yet we don’t know how to bring that part of us down into the flesh, or, we think we have to go “out there” (wherever that is…) to meet our spiritual selves. Nope, not so…not any more. Newsflash, our Spiritual Aspect loves to experience laughter and exuberance, fun and games, sweat and movement, awe and flowing tears…in fact, these are all things it longs to experience through our human qualities. So how do we go about bringing it down to ground?

It’s important to try because we do ourselves no favours choosing to evacuate our bodies at this time. To survive and thrive these times, we really need to be fully in our bodies, not “out there” somewhere or high up in our heads, forever residing in the top floor of the building as I tend to think of it (where we tell ourselves we are more comfortable or safe). Living, all the time, on the top floor can make us very unbalanced in a worldly sense; meanwhile, we have a whole lot of other floors sitting vacant and to ignore them is to invite a whole lot of health issues. So we become perilously disconnected from our bodies and then complain when they seem to let us down. This is where cultivating joie de vivre comes in. The high frequency of it can entice our highest aspect down to ground, to merge with our body’s cells, and we know this is a marriage made in heaven because, well, it feels so darn good!

It also happens to be a healing elixir like no other.

One sure-fire test for whether you are drumming up enough exuberance and joie de vivre in your life, check in with the animals you live with. If you happen to have a dog, they will always respond to it, instantly (and it can’t be faked with a put-on tone of voice). My white-muzzled boy (not my husband…) is really showing his age these days and our walks are fairly gentle but, when I have a real spurt of joie de vivre coursing through me, he gets so excited, charges around, races to the finish post, leaps in the air and corners like a dog half his age. It’s wonderful to see because it fuels even more of the feeling back into me…ample demonstration that pure and uncomplicated joy breeds joy wherever it can be found.

The importance of grounding

If you are highly sensitive then hopefully you have come to realise that sensitive empowerment requires that we acknowledge and feel our emotions and sensations with compassion and love. In order to acknowledge we are having these emotions and sensations, we first need to notice them by bringing them into the body and this takes a grounding activity such as standing on bare earth, spending time by flowing water, meditating, doing yoga or anything that encourages us to be fully present, especially out in nature. However, when those emotions and sensations feel bigger than we are, as is often the case with high sensitivity, it sometimes takes a bigger practice than those listed to both register them in the body and then PROCESS them THROUGH in a way that we can handle (given our high sensitivity) and also use to our advantage (since we are so ungrounded that it serves us if we can at least notice times when we achieve better grounding than normal). Better still, if we find we enjoy the process, this encourages us to ground our emotions and sensations much more often, which leads to less overwhelm and far better health. This is where expressive movement comes in.

As an autistic person, I find there is a definite link here between my particular wiring for high sensory processing, which can make me feel more overwhelmed than some other people might be in the same situation, along with a tendency to live in my thoughts way too much, plus also the need to actively process those senses though my body in such a way that the body fully registers them, but without overwhelm, on the way through…because, otherwise, I can tend to bypass the body altogether. Not least because of issues with chronic pain, learning to bypass the body can become a really big issue. Also gentle grounding activities, such as letting energy passively drain through me into Mother Earth, doesn’t feel quite enough. I tend to need to actively participate in the processing part in order to remember what my body is for…and that it is important and useful for me to have one, which is where the power of dance comes in for me. Dancing, quite literally, puts me back in touch with my body and helps me to remain more grounded for a long time afterwards. Yet whilst this especially applies to someone like me, as in highly sensitive person with autistic wiring, I suspect it applies to anyone that lives in their head and has become detached from their body to a very high degree…which is more common that you might think; a typical modern phenomenon.

For much more about the benefits of dancing for autism, please see the post that links with this one, Peaks of Joy.

Its not all happening in the head (whatever we may think)

So, pause for a moment to consider, where does your voice come from; you know, the voice that never stops talking inside….where is it located, how loud, what tone does it have? Meanwhile, when you feel with all your senses (which is to receive and process information “as it happens” in the moment, forgetting all about your intellect as commentator for a moment), where does feeling-cognition (akin to intuition) and awareness happen? In other words, when you take in all the data that life has to give you, via a whole multitude of different senses, where does that information land, is it still mostly in your head or, if you feel it in your body, is that a pleasant sensation or does some part of you rush to shut it down as “disturbing”, “uncomfortable” or “nonsense”? Do you try to ignore it by distracting yourself with even more thoughts? In the average day, how often do you allow yourself to receive, process or express without using your head as the prime agent? Does your body, as a prime implement of awareness and expression, ever get a look in or does it mainly do the bidding of your intellect?

How many of you found it was all happening as if in your head, or, found this a challenging exercise and what does this tell you about how grounded you are in your body? When was the last time you checked in with each and every part of your body to really concentrate on the sensations going on there, or to ask why they feel so unpleasant, alien or even numb?

Important to remember here: joy is a whole-bodied thing, not the state of mental titillation we have come to expect. So if our bodies are so dialled down, we are probably missing out on the larger part of our joy potential.

These are very real problems in the modern human; we live in our heads, we deny or shut down our feelings, and we get so easily overwhelmed by what feel like unpleasant, external (often quite cerebral…”the news” is seldom happening in our own living room but people behave as though under real and present danger because of it) sources of experience rather than taking the reins of our own exposures whilst using all the unique and incredible ways our bodies are wired to receive powerful frequencies of joy that inform, heal and motivate us.

We are here to experience it all, yes in all of the body…not to be the brain-centric, easily triggered, victims of circumstance we have become.

Bringing it down into the body

Just as our voices now need to land back into our bodies, where they can be used to speak our truth (not just by speaking or singing but by expressing the truth of who we truly are in a myriad of ways because everything we do is a self-expression, including living the example of our truth…and I heartily recommend Lee Harris’ latest audio Your Voice and How it Creates Your Future for so much more on this) our feelings need to be grounded in flesh and blood in order to strengthen our resilience, re-establish proper balance and to enable us to fully show up for these times. Yes, a hard ask if what we are feeling is so painful, either emotionally or physically; but once we bring what we are experiencing down into the body and allow the body to do what it does best (getting out of our own way!) it’s amazing how the body can help us to process through lifetimes of health issues and trauma, via highly intuitive movements and by listening to our sensations. Given the floor (and that could just be a yoga mat to lie down on for half an hour as we pay attention), it just knows what to do!

Exactly like with our voices which, when brought down into our heart and stomach areas (our core) seem to develop more resonance, power and gravitas, backed by the immensity of Who We Truly Are, it has the same transformative effect when we bring our feelings down into the tissues of our body. Rather than pushing them upwards to our heads and beyond, where they can become an ungrounded, ever-circling sense of overwhelm, over-awareness of things beyond our immediate sphere of influence or heightened sensitivity to everything in our environment, we can switch on the kind of joie de vivre I’m talking about. To me, it has something to do with an innocence or child-like quality that the body has retained over all the eons that the brain has been working hard to become so terribly serious and driven. That’s not to say the body is any less wise than the brain, but it gets far less hung-up on the details and remains open to reinvention and creative play. When we re-animate our feeling-cognition (which is still cognition…just of a slightly different kind), we remind the whole body (head included) that life is joy-filled, a sensory pleasure, something to get excited about, and it’s amazing how we can transform our whole experience, coming back into balance.

At this point, I always like to remember that the vagus nerve, the most important nerve in the body, connecting the brain with the stomach-brain (the very core of our feeling-cognition…we all know how we get uncannily accurate gut feelings, right?), is a two way street. It can be just as important for the brain to let go of what it thinks it knows and allow the body to process information as it is for the stomach to send information up to the brain as though to assume it always knows best. Not so, the brain doesn’t always know best, I’ve learned the hard way; in fact, the body holds far more ancient wisdom than any other part of us, plus its been through times far tougher than these…and survived!

In other words, we can spend YEARS trying to rationalise our way through a health crisis, or, we can hand it all over to the body and say here, process this but please be gentle with me. Then, we listen very intently to how the body responds at each step of the way (perhaps using intuition, dreams, metaphor and visualisations…though to stay present whilst doing any kind of gentle movement practice, such as yoga, walking or dance, is enough) and we make the process pleasant, unpressurised and fun, going whichever way feels the best at every choice point, in other words allowing the body to lead the way. We laugh, kindly, with ourselves and we celebrate the small triumphs until, inch by inch, we make powerful headway, processing layers of pain and trauma that flummoxed us for all those previous YEARS!

Meanwhile, we become powerful, intuitive beings and we upgrade our consciousness whilst becoming more balanced and whole than ever.

Uptempo

I’ve found this out…sooo powerfully…for myself since I took up dancing back in April last year. Before that, my feelings were completely overwhelmed by life; I was over-sensitive to nearly everything I came into contact with, to the point that even a high-vibe burst of really positive energy could floor me as much as bad news or a panic could bring me down. My body was so used to assuming that any increase of tempo meant an increase of adrenalin, thus, something to be alarmed about that it could quickly crash me to the floor if people suddenly started laughing, cheering, being extremely noisy or frivolous nearby; what a sad state of affairs!

Now, after months of daily practice, tuning in to the exact rhythm and tempo, the very flavour, of the music I feel like moving to each day, I’ve got to where I relish the more uptempo music most of all. Now I’ve woken up my body to the joy of movement, the feel of blood rushing through veins and the draught I create when I move vigorously around the room, not to mention the enthusiasm and endorphins that charge my system when I dance, my senses no longer assume the worse when the tempo increases. Now, I notice how my highly-sensitive body can feel like fireworks of wonderful sensations go off when I’m out in nature, feeling the breeze on my skin, laughing or listening to music on headphones, even watching a dance performance or hearing people applaud; I am at one with all the best vibrations of exuberance and they fuel me just like they fuel my dog. I can certainly cope with more noise, more high-spirits, more variation of tempo in my daily life. Plus I’ve gained all the benefits of my sensitive wiring back (as they used to be, years ago) instead of being constantly subdued by the negative stuff; in fact, I can tip the balance away from all those negative vibes that try to come in and overwhelm me by turning to one of my energy blasting devices, such as dancing or listening to up tempo music to neutralise the negative effect.

Of course, sometime I feel quiet, more in need of calm, some inner time, slower pace and I still have some fairly major dips into chronic fatigue and pain. However, now, when I have a crash, rather than automatically succumb and draw the blinds, I am far more likely to take myself off to the dance floor first thing in the morning…believe me, it works like magic…and I feel far more in control of my destiny, having learned how to TRANSFORM on demand (dance is full of that regeneration dynamic referred to in my last post). Afterwards, having danced myself into a better state, I feel more grounded, more settled and centred, ready for my usual calm and creative day, BECAUSE I have engaged with high spirits, allowed them to course through my body, to express through my limbs, welcomed into my body. I feel far less head-centric throughout the day; far less prone to forgetting I even have a body, and usually eager for more dance in the evening. I’m more generally animated, engaged with other people, verbally expressive, present and wonderfully aware that I have MADE more energy through my efforts. This is a powerful realisation to have since it reminds me that positive energy is not in a state of lack but, rather, abundantly available and that we, each, play a part in invoking and amplifying it out into the world…once we cease the habit of viewing life through the eyes of perpetual shortfall and personal helplessness.

These are the kinds of days that start out well and attract more positive outcomes to them, because of spinning joie de vivre through my system. My nervous system feels more relaxed because my thoughts have been given a welcome break whilst I allow my body fullest expression (as the day’s priority…not like the old days, when my intellect used to set off from a running start as soon as I woke up) and my inner child has been given more than a bit of attention and outlet!

“I’ve got the music in me…”

So whilst my dancing playlist is extremely diverse, please don’t laugh (well, you can if you want to, I do!), I seem to have found my happy place with the feel-good disco music of the 70s and early 80s. Cliché though that may sound (and perhaps more than a hint at my age-bracket), I’ve realised there’s method to the nostalgia because, as I came to understand on a tidal wave of epiphany one day, probably while I was dancing, I had used this very music before, to dig me out of a very dark hole. And while it was never my music of choice to just sit and listen to for pleasure, I have recently discovered how deeply it was apparently embedded in the soundtrack of my life, from times when my normal music, which tends to be more singer-songwriter, folk, prog or rock based, or even opera and classical, would not have been uptempo or sheer exuberant enough to “rescue me” from life’s downward spells (sorry but true, some of those folk lyrics can be quite maudlin).

I have always had an extremely strong, intimate reaction to music and it affects me enormously; rhythms get in my head and, as a child, would play all day long at school, becoming associated with whatever challenges I was having to deal with or, sometimes, helping me to get through them like a positive mantra. Some of the slower mid-70s ballads that I associate with the era when bullying was taking place can transport me straight back to those times and still make me shudder but disco cut through all that, like a hot knife through butter. Its up-tempo riffs and natural joie de vivre somehow purged the dark times for me, as though to break the hold of a rather dour, defeatist spell that was causing me to feel utterly unsupported by life, which is never strictly true; we always have something on our side. Against the backdrop of everyday “austerity”, disco burst in like a flamingo-plumaged diva, marking a distinct change of tempo in the collective, or so it seemed to my nine year-old self. I can’t help feeling that we need something equivalent to uplift the music scene right now instead of all the rather tired, derivative output of mainstream that I have paid very little attention to for the past decade or so. In its time, disco was like a much-needed firework going off because of its joie de vivre energy.

In fact, I want to add one more observation about disco; looking back, it seems to me that it was the natural offshoot of those first stirrings of the Age of Aquarius begun by the hippies a decade earlier. You could also look at it in terms of the imminent arrival of the eighth wave of creation (as per Dr. Carl Calleman‘s theory), which makes for a whole other spin-off topic. Some of the mantras included in its lyrics are extraordinarily powerful and high-vibe, alluding to the unity consciousness that lay waiting beyond the eighth wave (if still presented with an overt “feminine” tilt): “Good times, leave your cares behind…”, “We are family, I got all my sisters and me”, “I feel love”, “The dream that came through a million years ,That lived on through all the tears…”, “Love is in the air, everywhere I look around”, “Lovely day, lovely day….”, “I feel free…”, “It’s high time now just one crack at life, Who wants to live in, in trouble and strife, My mind must be free, to learn all I can about me, uh-hmm, I’m gonna love me, for the rest of my days…”, “There’s a new me coming out, And I just had to live, And I want to give, I’m completely positive…” (you get the idea). Having just watched the film “The Last Days of Disco” with its most memorable parting shot “Disco will never be over. It will always live in our minds and hearts. Something like this that was this big, and this important, and this great, will never die. Oh for a few years, maybe many years it will be considered passe and ridiculous…” it seemed to me that disco was turned over by the establishment; not unlike the psychedelics of the 60s which, only now, are being reviewed for their immense benefit to mental health. Similarly, the music was brought down, almost overnight, by being heavily tarred with the brush of drugs and extreme hedonism by the establishment supported media, almost as though it was feared for being too darned cheerful to keep the status quo and I do feel its Aquarian flavour has yet to sing its last song, by far.

Anyway, although it had been around for a year or two, this music first appeared in my consciousness back in 1977, when I was 9 years old, during the final peak of the longest run of being bullied and, somehow, it miraculously helped lift me out of those dark times, just by brightening my spirit and somehow giving me confidence that everything would be alright. I am extremely high-energy, inside, but was having to work so hard to keep all that energy under wraps (no small part to do with my unrealised autism and my efforts to “normalise” in order to stay under people’s radar) but it was as though this up-beat music matched my frequency and, when it played, I was able to let some of that energy out without being singled out from the crowd because everyone was being made more uptempo and upbeat by it. I suspect a world with this music playing out of the radio before I left for school, its rhythms on constant re-run in my head, felt like one in which I felt more at home, more supported, less like I was suffering from “wrong planet” syndrome…a better match. I had found my frequency, or at least something a little more like it!

Whatever the magic effect was, I can clearly recall that, by the end of that year, the dark feeling had started to dissipate and 1978 went on to be the absolute favourite year of my pre-teens. It was as though I was now a completely different person, coping in a whole new way, making better friendships, flourishing in the things I liked to do such as writing stories and art, gaining attention for them, without feeling I had to hide these parts of myself away. Deeply interwoven with the profound feeling of transformation having taken place is the music of the era (that year’s hit parades are like a memory book of happy feelings and flashbacks) and its those highly uptempo disco tracks that particularly shine through, encapsulating the feeling of a sort of rebirth I underwent from struggling to enjoying life. So, if I have managed to bottled the feeling up in the music, why not use it now? It makes perfect dance music for recultivating the feeling of joie de vivre, on demand. Aside from being up-beat enough to really get the blood pumping and body gyrating, it also keeps me from taking myself too seriously (perish the thought) and puts a great big grin on my face, even before the day has properly begun.

Each to our own…the effect is the same

So while dance (or disco!) might not be for you, I hope there is some food for thought in what I have shared. Why not feel into anything that triggers feel-good memories, rouses exuberance, brings you that animated kind of joy that is filled with the distilled substance of life force, the energy of propulsion. I suspect this is the kind of energy we most need right now; like the “ultra” fuel version at the petrol pump…something with some va va voom to kick start the regeneration process I spoke about in my last post. Even if its “just” a daily belly-laugh, digging up some episodes of a favourite comedy, or ceasing being so serious and “grown up” all the time, why not consider it. Perhaps a daily “shaking meditation” with your partner could get you both laughing and the body moving in a more vigorous way. Go for walks, slowly, stomping in puddles or watching the water glisten on the edge of leaves. Watch tv reruns from decades ago that transport you back to when you were a kid, laughing at the hair-dos, recalling feelings from the days when you went off to bed utterly carefree, with your parents in the room below. Or drag out those old board games and instigate a games night (we have) and make it really lighthearted, allow yourselves to regress. Don’t underestimate these simple things, they might well be amongst our most valuable commodities right now.

When you’ve found what those things are, and perhaps it will take going all the way back to childhood to reclaim them (since we are so often entrained to give up such behaviours and interests in our adult lives), why not see if you can package them up for yourself in a kind of memory box or experience “kit” that you can call upon at short notice, reach out for in a crisis, dial up the volume of when you feel down, and so on. Learning to do this for myself in early 2020, and now reaping the massive benefits of it, is one of the main reasons I sailed through a tough year with relative ease and am full of remarkable optimism and energy to start the new year with. Its honestly made all the difference! And when we each take the time to dial into our own joie de vivre, I have no doubt, we contribute this to the collective, compounding the joy-frequency for the whole world…which feels like the very frequency we need to regenerate this planet.

To finish, I want to share something posted (with perfect synchronicity…of course) by a friend yesterday, from Rumi…a reminder I should really get into the habit of opening my copy of”Rumi Day by Day” as part of my daily routine:

If you put your hands on this oar with me,
they will never harm another, and they will come to find
they hold everything you want.

If you put your hands on this oar with me, they would no longer
lift anything to your
mouth that might wound your precious land –
that sacred earth that is your body.

If you put your soul against this oar with me,
the power that made the universe will enter your sinew
from a source not outside your limbs, but from a holy realm
that lives in us.

Exuberant is existence, time a husk.
When the moment cracks open, ecstasy leaps out and devours space;
love goes mad with the blessings, like my words give.

Why lay yourself on the torturer’s rack of the past and the future?
The mind that tries to shape tomorrow beyond its capacities
will find no rest.

Be kind to yourself, dear – to our innocent follies.
Forget any sounds or touch you knew that did not help you dance.

You will come to see that all evolves us.

That Lives In Us – Rumi

Oh, one more thing…I feel I must include this story as the word “Joy” literally jumped out of the headline in this email the moment I had finished posting to my blog. I recently added the charitywater.org to a collection of charities I support every month and when I receive from them joyful news like this it fills me full of joy, reminding me that giving can be a very effective means of cultivating joie de vivre, not just for myself but for others at the same time!

Joy is spreading through Chibwana Village 
 Until recently, clean water felt like a distant dream for the 1,312 people who call Malawi’s Chibwana village home. Most used what little water they had for cooking. Handwashing wasn’t a priority—not even during a pandemic.But now, thanks to a drilled well, all of that has changed. 
 Malita “Before the borehole was drilled in our village, the community had risk of spreading and contracting the coronavirus. With the drilling of [a] borehole, the water has come closer to our household, and we are able to wash our hands with soap.”– Malita, community member  
 Our local partner described Chibwana village as “jubilant” now that they have access to clean water. Supporters like you made that joy possible! As a member of The Spring, you’re providing sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions for communities like Malita’s. We are so grateful for your partnership in this important work.

About Helen White

Helen White is a professional artist and published writer with two primary blogs to her name. Her themes pivot around health and wellbeing, expanded consciousness and ways of noticing how life is a constant dance between the deeply subjective and the collective-universal, all of which she explores with a daily hunger to get to know herself better. A lifetime of "feeling outside" of mainstream...slowly emerging as Asperger's Syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome plus a complex of co-morbid health challenges, being a confirmed Highly Sensitive Person and an INFJ personality type, not to mention born under an out of bounds moon (need I go on) fed into the creation of Living Whole; a self-exploratory blog fed by a wide angle lens tilted at "health and wellness" topics. Meanwhile, Spinning the Light is a free-for-all covering a multitude of playful and positive subjects about life in the broadest sense...written with a no-holds-barred approach. Needless to say, their subjects cross over quite often.
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3 Responses to Cultivating joie de vivre

  1. Helen White says:

    Reblogged this on Living whole and commented:

    As an autistic person, I find there is a definite link here between my particular wiring for high sensory processing, which can make me feel more overwhelmed than some other people might be in the same situation, along with a tendency to live in my thoughts way too much, plus also the need to actively process those senses though my body in such a way that the body fully registers them, but without overwhelm, on the way through…because, otherwise, I can tend to bypass the body altogether. Not least because of issues with chronic pain, learning to bypass the body can become a really big issue. Also gentle grounding activities, such as letting energy passively drain through me into Mother Earth, doesn’t feel quite enough. I tend to need to actively participate in the processing part in order to remember what my body is for…and that it is important and useful for me to have one, which is where the power of dance comes in for me. Dancing, quite literally, puts me back in touch with my body and helps me to remain more grounded for a long time afterwards. Yet whilst this especially applies to someone like me, as in highly sensitive person with autistic wiring, I suspect it applies to anyone that lives in their head and has become detached from their body to a very high degree…which is more common that you might think; a typical modern phenomenon.

    I plan to share much more about the proven benefit of dancing, for autistic people, soon in another post that I’m working on for Living Whole.

    To start off this topic, here is a post I shared yesterday in by other blog Spinning the Light on the importance of GROUNDING joy into the physical body…whatever that happens to take in your case (an essential for health, and for navigating these times).

    Like

  2. I used to think that joy was some high-blown emotion only achievable in really ‘big’ moments of life, but I’ve come to realise that joy is something I can feel every day for often very small reasons. I have a habit of living too much in my head, but I feel things – particularly negative things – in my stomach and chest areas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Helen White says:

      I can very much relate to that, have had such a “hit” to the stomach today! Am finally setting about using a gratitude journal, quite seperate to my usual journal, so that I can really focus on just a handful of things that have brought me those small amounts of equally potent joy throughout each day, something I have meant to do for years.

      Liked by 1 person

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