This is my path to the seashore. I'm at the beautiful beach in the Panhandle, spending time reconnecting with family. In the past year I have often said to myself, "what would life be like if I didn't feel like I needed a vacation from it all the time? What if I felt joy every day? What if I did the things I loved to do, every day?"
I have often asked clients what it is that brings them joy. I work with people from all walks of life, meeting them where they are. Sometimes this means seeing an eating disorder, an addiction, or other ways of filling up that aren't healthy or productive. Our work together starts with finding other things that fill up the void that is created inside of us, from trauma, or pain, or life experiences that we can't control.
Discovering what brings you joy, and doing that every day, is the key to a happy, peaceful life. My homework in Healing Touch classes was to practice yoga, meditate, journal, and sleep daily. These seem like simple assignments, but we all fall off of the wagon from time to time, and just maintaining those four practices is not always easy.
When I started seeing more clients and my practice picked up, I had to up the ante on my own self care. If I was going to be their guru, so to speak, I had to walk my talk. The challenge with walking your talk is putting one foot in front of the other. Doing instead of talking, moving instead of sitting, and being instead of whining.
I had a teacher a few years ago who said to me, "everyone wants to come to their guru for advice, but often they're just scratching the surface of what's really going on". I had a lot of idols when I started my practice, people I put on a pedestal, assuming they were better than me. I forgot that we are all human.
My guilty pleasure has always been food. I am from New Orleans, where you can eat at a different restaurant every day of the year and have a good meal. We often talk about what we are eating for lunch when we go to breakfast, and what we are eating for dinner while out to lunch. My husband is a chef. We have made good food and drink a part of our lives for years.
What started to go missing in my life was moderation. When I started to wake up spiritually, there were things I couldn't eat. I couldn't drink alcohol for a while. I took a break from wheat and dairy for my kids who were allergic, for more than five years. Then I reached a point in my awakening process where I could eat and drink what I couldn't before.
Suddenly I could have whatever I wanted again. And I went off the deep end. I was overeating and drinking too much. I was taking my joy and making it into a habit. Thankfully, my yoga practice upped the ante on me, again. My practice demanded that I stop, and go back to healthy eating and no alcohol.
So there I was, back to square one. And I had screwed up again. Where did I lose joy? How did I go from simple joy to overindulgence, in one full swoop? I didn't know. So I went back to my guru, and asked. And he said, "take your own advice, and listen to what you are saying to your clients. Find what fills you up, and do that."
The basic building blocks to a joy-filled life are right in front of us. We often forget that there is someone next door, or down the street, who wants to build a connection with us. We forget to move our bodies. We forget to go outside. We forget to be mindful of what we put into our bodies. We forget to push back and away from our screens and make an effort to find what brings joy to our lives, instead of comparing ourselves incessantly to others.
We forget, and that's ok. We screw up, we make mistakes, and the best part is that we get to get back up again and move forward. We get to get up the next day, and start over again. We get to put one foot in front of the other and make better choices.
And when we consistently, daily, moment by moment, make better choices, those add up. They add up slowly to a happier, more peaceful life. I tell clients to make changes slowly. Going too fast makes us fall off the wagon faster. It takes 21 days to change a habit, to create new muscle memory, and to start looking at life differently.
That means baby steps. 21 days of a new workout. 21 days of new eating patterns. 21 days of detox. 21 days of mindfulness. 21 days of new choices. In my practice we take changes 21 days at a time. And then we uplevel to the next habit. We don't change our lives overnight. We change them in small ways, daily, and add them up over time.
We stop and plateau. After 21 days of change we breathe, evaluate, and decide when we're ready to move on to the next habit. We add up a peaceful, joy-filled happy life by working one day at a time, gradually adding layers of good habits on top of each other.
This is the first time I've been on vacation that I have felt the momentum of good choices and healthy habits resonate fully in my body. It's the first time I have known that I am not going to need a vacation from my vacation. And it's the first time that I know, deep inside, that joy is always available. It's not some unreachable goal that I need to find far away from where I live my daily life.
And most importantly, it's not something that I need to go to my guru to find. The guru always lies deep inside, whispering to us, daily. Guiding us on our path to fullness, wellness, and joy. We just have to listen, put one foot in front of the other, and walk our talk.
Joy is always there. Do what you love, and love what is.