Joy naturally and spontaneously erupts when our minds get out of the way and we simply get really present to this very moment we are in. Most of the time, however, most people live in a state of constant overload and stress. It drains our energy, shuts us down, numbs our senses and sucks the feeling of aliveness out of us.
We have lost touch with the playfulness, excitement and sense of awe that were natural to us as kids. And the majority of people I have come across seem to think that this is a normal part of being an adult. We have become used to our chronic stress as well as the numbness to it. However, it seems quite important to me to realize that this common condition can absolutely not be considered a natural state.
This is why I love Laughter Yoga so much. It brings out the childlike playfulness in everybody. Laughing simply makes you feel intensely alive. It cracks your arms and heart wide open. It washes stress and blockages created by pent-up emotions out of your system. It’s therapeutic. And on top of all this it’s pure fun.
In contrast, the habitual numbness to how we really feel inside our bodies, mind and soul is a form of resistance to life. It’s a self-defense mechanism; a coping strategy. Its aim is to protect us from uncomfortable feelings – such as old hurt of abandon and rejection; anger and shame, or just simply the disturbing feeling of being so very vulnerable and fragile.
Over the past years I have come to realize the many ways in which numbness as a form of resistance is prevailing in the systems of my clients and in mine as well. One of the challenges of professional life coaching is the recognition that whatever clients experience as issues is often a reflection of my own issues. This can be a bit overwhelming or upsetting.
The bright side of it is that as they realize their issues or limiting beliefs and intentionally start moving towards their goals in many new ways, I do the same. And that is a most gratifying process.
Recently I decided: enough is enough. This year is the time for me to radically reduce numbness and connect more deeply to my body and my emotions – even if this brings up the recognition of pain that was drowned. For me this is what embodiment of becoming more aware and awake is all about now.
At times it seems like an enormously difficult thing to do, given the many mental, physical or emotional strategies to automatically ward off uncomfortable emotions. The irony is that these are not comfortable states at all. Here a just a few from a long list drawn up by the inspiring young Life Coach Christian Pankhurst.
Being busy all the time; watching television; shopping; addictions to drugs, alcohol, sugar or sex; overworking; spending a lot of time on social media; avoiding intimacy; giving up relationships quickly; acting obsessively; cynicism; procrastination; inability to commit to anything; boredom; being frustrated easily; staying down and depressed; feeling all kinds of physical aches; worrying compulsively; shame over past choices; lashing out; thinking we know better than others; incapability of nourishing ourselves; resistance to action; running late routinely …….. or even what he calls the “New Age Bypass” to avoid emotions for made up spiritual reasons.
Lately I felt astonished to observe how many people around me, even highly intelligent academics, seem to be totally unaware of the many ways in which they live on constant avoidance mode. At the same time they dream of finding their soulmate and living happily ever after, or making the one great business deal and become rich and happy.
When I dare to point out in discussions that the resistance mode and the numbness it produces are unlikely to produce the aspired results as no real opening happens, a typical reaction is denial. It makes me wonder how difficult it can be to see clearly that our habitual response to life cuts us off from the juicy feelings that make life worth living in the first place. It simply contributes to create much more stress. And on top of that it’s pretty unlikely to lead us to what we want to feel and where we want to be in the future.
At the same time more and more people feel an urge now to start living in different ways and to connect to themselves on a deeper level. While yoga, meditation and holistic healing arts are becoming more popular, there is still little awareness of stress management tools that can effectively do the trick.
I have not come across anything more convincing and effective than the simple system developed by the Institute of HeartMath. It allows us to significantly lower stress levels by shifting into uplifting emotional states. Resilience as well as a new baseline is developed through practice.
That means that when we become aware of feeling heavy emotions, we can consciously and easily shift now into a state of ease, appreciation or joy. And this opens the doors to much more emotional and physical wellbeing which leads to more inspired action.
While it’s empowering to be able to do that, I was inspired this morning by a realization on a deeper level: when we allow what’s happing inside without judging or resisting and simply give the energies that are there the time to move through us, change naturally unfolds as Pankhurst points out in one of his free webinars.
He put it this way: “Even ‘wanting to be joyful’ can come from ‘push’ and resistance of what’s moving in you now, so it’s important to realize that it’s not better to be joyful than to be numb, disconnected or depressed, it simply feels better. It becomes a preference not a need. When you can begin to feel good feeling bad, joy will come effortlessly into your being.”
I particularly like his following statement: “What if the purpose of your life was to enjoy it? By enjoy, I don’t mean, ‘be happy all the time’, but instead I mean: To infuse joy into every moment simply because you can.”
How different would life be if many of us could easily do this? What a wonderful world would this be? To infuse joy into every moment simply because we can ……. Sure seems to me like a vision that merits the response: “Yessssss we can!”