Jump for Joy!
You’ve all heard the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.” A statement doesn’t become trite without actually being true.
A recent visit to my Ayurvedic doctor, Craig Williams, here in Austin, Texas, offered up a huge insight on the concept of JOY. The word in Sanskrit to describe this sentiment is “kama.” It’s not only a sentiment. According to Vedic wisdom, kama is one of the four foundational desires of the soul. An inherent longing for pleasure in all forms – closeness and intimacy, beauty, family, art, friendship, and yes, sex. In Tantra philosophy, extracting joy and pleasure from everyday events is paramount for living a fulfilled life. Something “better” isn’t waiting for us once we find our ultimate partner or have our dream job. Joy should not be delayed until after a raise or yearly bonus. It isn’t waiting for us on the other side. Happiness, freedom and inspired living are right in front of us, here and now, ripe for the taking.
Joyful experiences feed the sweet nectar of life necessary to sustain us and help us thrive. When we live an inspired and passionate life, full of vitality (or prana), we can extract soma, or sweet nourishment, from any and all life experiences — whether that be a tasty and nutritious meal, a walk, a kiss, the moon, even work. Craig described this alchemy to me “like bees extract pollen from flowers to create honey.” Without this “zest for life” or “rasa,” we lack joy, spontaneity, fulfillment and faith.
For me, it means scheduling more dates with friends to share and — more importantly — laugh. Or, since many of my dearest friends live a distance away, making time to call them and catch up. I can’t tell you how good I feel after hearing a loved one’s voice on the other end of the line. I have a tendency to get into my head, so to speak, causing worry and anxiety (a sure-fire way to deplete vitality and joy!). A good chuckle, even over the serious stuff, often offers clarity and insight, or gives me the lift I need to carry on with the day.
It also means getting back into dance class. Weekly. No more excuses.
I know I need to have face-to-face time with my teacher as well, at least twice a year. I returned from a recent training rejuvenated, excited and full of inspiration. The well had run dry, and six days in the mountains practicing, being a student, breathing and sharing some profound experiences with a community I trust and respect filled the tank back up.
It may be as simple as watching a funny movie. It’s no wonder that I’ve had a yearning to see “Anchorman 2.” True, full, belly-aching laughter is one of the best ways to cultivate a sense of joy.
After all, why else would we be given this human form if not to experience, feel and understand joy? Not the temporary joy that comes from purchasing a new handbag or seeing one of our posts “liked” on Facebook. But a true, everlasting and liberating joy that only comes from sucking the nectar out of life and bathing in its radiance. From seeking and experiencing a life full of purpose, ease and love.