Since the desert took me in almost a decade ago, I’ve been shedding layer after layer of ill-fitting beliefs lurking within me that were not of my conscious choosing; distorted value systems and their attendant powers to make meaning and create realities instilled in me by family, culture and society, who for the most part did not consciously choose these for themselves either.
Over the past couple of years, this shedding of decrepit old inner operating systems, and the subsequent regeneration of new, authentic meanings and values have started to crystallise into myriad fractal formations in resonance with the frequency of Joy.
I can hear your objections that creating belief systems around Joy just isn’t possible and practical – especially given the state of the world and the state of your life and all the many, many other reasons why.
It isn’t possible when we’re approaching the cultivation of Joy from a conditional perspective: I’ll have joy when I am/my life/the world is like xyz; it isn’t possible when we’re approaching Joy as something that we are separate from. Which of course ends up being precisely the experience that we create for ourselves.
And as this belief in “Joy as something that we’re separate from” is such a belligerent, soul-violating lie, our spirits cannot allow us to properly digest it, and we end up projecting the pain of this toxic indigestion out onto others, the world, etc: they don’t “deserve” Joy because xyz, etc.
And on we go, playing this ghastly game of acid reflux ping-pong with the aforementioned belligerent lie presiding as a core belief.
Joy as conditional, and Joy as separate from us are crucial to the infrastructure of the soulless, joyless authoritarian paradigm that we’re in the process of evolving out of. This grumpy old paradigm’s particular flavour of meaning-making requires us to swallow the lie that we are inherently bad, wrong, flawed and unworthy of Joy unless we have met certain externally imposed criteria. Meanwhile, the goalposts of these arbitrary criteria keep mysteriously shifting, and so we stay eternally struggling up the mountain with the heavy load on our backs like poor old Sisyphus and his miserable lot.
What if instead we were to call time (enough already!) on the insidious Papal bull (shit) of sin, guilt and unworthiness and look towards the ancient wisdom of the Vedas in India – much older than the Old Testament’s tedious hellfire and damnation shenanigans.
In particular, let’s call in the state of being known as Satcitananda
(pronounced Sat Chit Ananda) which means:
Truth/Existence ~ Consciousness ~ Bliss
Satcitananda is the subjective and foundational nature of ultimate Reality and Being, or the Source of All, known as Brahman. As an embodied soul – the Atman– you are here to feel, experience and create manifest reality in, with, and through the innateness of Satcitananda.
All of which to say – you are here to make space, create capacity and joyful resilience in your body, your nervous system, in your psyche and your energy field in order to feel life moving through you; and as you do that, Divinity, Great Spirit, Brahman, Goddess, God, the Universe, Source – whatever you want to call that supreme quintessence that is inextricably part of you, also feels and experiences with you.
Or, as the 15th century Indian poet and mystic Kabir succinctly put it:
“The creature is in Brahma, and Brahma is in the creature: they are ever distinct yet ever united.”
According to the Vedas, the subjective state of being of the Great Ineffable is always Satcitananda. As embodied souls, we can lean into our own cyclical, beautifully imperfect attunement to Satcitananda by evolving our limited definition of Joy. The first step towards this is through recognising that the full expression and experience of Joy is the loving, spacious capacity in our nervous systems that can curiously, compassionately be with the flux and flow of Life as it moves through us in the moment, without trying to coercively manhandle it into some externally imposed set of mandates.
This evolution is the recognition and experience that the full expression of Joy is the non-dual spaciousness in which the peaks and troughs of duality can be experienced, related to and allowed to organically transform and evolve.
From the perspective of somatic and nervous system alchemy, we can begin to see from our own direct experience that we – in the words of Whitman – “contain multitudes”, and that the cultivation of loving spaciousness in order to contain All that we authentically are is the cultivation of Joy.
We can begin to see that Joy is not something that we are separate from or that we have to be worthy of but is rather the unconditional ground of our being.
To be clear: Joy is not the unnatural, cavity-inducing state of “being positive” all the time (please, no), thus bypassing and numbing out the sensational truth of the present moment, whether that is grief or disappointment or pain or any of those more challenging aspects of being human that we have been taught to repress and deny.
That is not Joy, neither will it lead you to Joy. All those repressed, rejected, denied feelings become pathologized, calcify and act out all that stuck energy in ways that simply intensify and reinforce the experience over and over again until we are forced to stop and tend to them.
The true nature of Joy is a resourced nervous system that has the capacity to hold the multitudes and polarities of life as it moves through us. It is a nervous system that knows how to create safety from the inside out, with the resilience and tenacity to occupy its own sovereign yes and no, and create loving spaciousness for the raw vulnerability of both pleasure and pain.
There are many ways to start leaning into the art of nourishing your nervous system. Here’s a super-simple way to begin, with this super-simple question:
“I wonder what it would feel like if I stopped believing that there was something wrong with me?”
This is deceptively effective in beginning to create space and resilience in your nervous system through direct experience. It begins to uproot the belligerent lie of your unworthiness, and offers up a taste of what it would feel like if the space was occupied by a belief in your innate worthiness. It allows you to compassionately shine your light of awareness into the places where you tense up and constrict against letting this belief go, where it feels safer to stay in the oppressive familiarity of believing that there’s something wrong with you, into the places where you have been colonised by tyranny.
It’s important to begin the question with “I wonder” or a similar equivalent. Invoking a sense of playfulness, wonder and levity immediately creates space, letting your subconscious know that this is not a right or wrong exercise. Calling in wonder is an invitation to the transformational curiosity of powerful imagination that has the power to move mountains.
Also, it’s important not to make this just a mental exercise and to instead ground this in your body by inquiring through feeling and direct experience. This is what starts to create new grooves of capacity and resource in your nervous system.
There are so many layers of resolution, revelation and healing that creating the intentional space for asking this question can give you – not least creating a new, beautiful baseline belief for your psyche and soma. Over time, you might find that the question changes as you uncover deeper layers of conditioning and soul-colonisation.
Allow it to take you on new, challenging and soul-affirming adventures.
And to get you started, here’s The Firefly’s Question – a short, guided somatic practice.
Do this for 10-15 minutes to begin with, and then for however long you feel called to once you become familiar with it. Eventually, you’ll want to go off on your own unique explorations with it – work with this audio as a guide to get you started.
As always, take what resonates, leave the rest.