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Learning to Experience Joy

Hello friends, welcome to May! I am giddy to share that our little baby boy, Lucas David Vennie, was born April 12. He’s healthy and happy, and already a heart-stealer (mama and daddy are 100% smitten.)

With so much to celebrate and be grateful for lately, you’d think I’d be skipping around in babyblissland, overwhelmed with joy and radiating nothing but positivity. Unfortunately, things are going way TOO well for my comfort level, so instead of enjoying this beautiful time in my life, I’ve decided to stress and worry about everything that could eventually go wrong.

Sounds ridiculous, I know,  but it’s the truth. When I look at my sweet babe and take inventory of all the magic that’s surrounding me, I can’t help but think that it’s all just too good to be true. Therefore, I’ve convinced myself that something bad is going to happen soon, because no-one deserves to be so happy when we live in a world where so many people are not. Right?

This reaction stems from my flawed belief that if I don’t let my highs get too high, then my lows won’t feel as low. Of course, this makes no sense at all. There is no set ratio of good times to bad times we each have to hit, and preparing for the worst will not actually prevent it from happening. What’s more, when we allow fear and anxiety to take the front seat and drive us away from the beauty of the present moment, we end up suffering twice: first imagining and bracing ourselves for the bad, and then actually living it (if it does indeed happen). Tempering our highs doesn’t help us through our lows, it just robs us of the very thing that makes life worth living –  JOY!

Walk into any Barnes & Noble and you’ll find about a million books on how to find happiness. Ironically, we don’t really need help FINDING it – there is no lack of reason to feel joy in our lives just as things are. The problem is that we don’t know how to let ourselves EXPERIENCE it. We spend so much more time flexing the muscles of stress and fear and anxiety in our day to day that we’re not sure how to deal with joy when it does surface.

Many of us turned to yoga to help us navigate the choppy waters of life, and it is a wonderful tool to do so. But this practice can also be used as a means of making the already good and beautiful parts of life shine even brighter. This month’s intention, therefore, will be to leverage the very tools we typically reserve for dealing with hardship to cultivate contentment, satisfaction, and delight.

When you step on your mat this month, I invite you to focus primarily on the delicious aspects of breathing and flowing through your practice instead of how each pose can prepare you to deal with the crap-storm that awaits you on the other side of the studio walls. Instead of working on Half-Moon to find balance in a shaky world, for example, let’s delight in the sense of freedom and strength that this shape offers. Instead of holding Warrior II for long periods of time to build resilience, let’s focus on the comforting grounding of our feet and the wonderful opening of the heart towards the sky. And instead of meditating in savasana to escape from our realities, let’s wholeheartedly embrace the good in our lives during those sweet moments of rest and silence.


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