FEATURE - July 2015 - Kansas City
Opening to Joy
by Holly Hildreth
Erupting from the soil of my efforts,
the joy in my life,
tender and precious,
in the garden of my Soul.
Where Does Joy Live?
Joy lives in the present moment, which when focused upon opens like a flower to reveal peace, acceptance and enthusiasm. This is the natural state of our being. As my spirit teacher Red Feather says, “The more you are in your being, the happier you become.”
What keeps us from experiencing our Joy?
Our ego believes that the experience of joy is like patting a tarantula. It may feel soft and furry to the touch, but there is a big, scary spider underneath! Ego perceives that she is safe only when she feels in control. Feeling in control often takes the form of continually replaying negative past events and worrying over the future. Attention is rarely focused in the present.
Any thought that is not about this moment is a story. Memories of past events seen through our own personal filters make up our stories. When an eyewitness relates a memory of an event it is a story based upon their experience of that event. It may or may not be wholly accurate. It is the same when we remember something that happened in the past. We are telling ourselves a story of that event, and pull ourselves out of the present moment. Sometimes we imagine a conversation in which we say what we wish we had said. The person we imagine is our representation of someone else. That person is fictional, just as the conversation we imagine is fiction. It is a story we tell ourselves, focusing attention away from being present. The same is true when we think or worry about what might happen in the future. It is just a story; it may or may not happen.
Attention focused on negative memories and fear about the future creates emotional pain. This pain becomes familiar to us, a longtime companion. For the ego that doesn’t feel safe it is the devil we know, safer than venturing out into the unknown territory of the angels. This identification with pain becomes its own story, our story. It becomes self-perpetuating. It is often not until the pain becomes too great to bear that we finally decide to risk the angels and make a different choice.
How Do We Choose Joy?
Awareness is the first step to change
Learn to recognize the voice in your head that says, “I am not safe. I am not enough. She is not enough. If only he would do this I could be happy or comfortable or safe. If only I had said or done something else.” Become aware of the emotional pain these thoughts create. This is ego speaking and creating emotional states, pulling you out of the present. It is not the voice of your true self. Your true self is that part of you which is fully aligned with Source. Your true self lives in the present moment. Your natural state is acceptance, peace, joy and enthusiasm. Once you have learned to recognize the negative voice of ego you can take action.
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
When you find yourself worrying about something from the past, or imagining what might happen, remind yourself that this is just a story you tell yourself. Inwardly say, “Story,” and return your attention to the present moment.
Give Ego a Job To Do
Keep ego busy with positive, self-affirming jobs. Ego latches on to reasons to be afraid, things to obsess about; looks for ways to try to control, and looks for something she must do right now. Keep ego busy. Two ways to do this are the following:
1. Give ego something to do. You may have details to keep track of, lists to make, things to organize. Ego is good at that. Tell her that will be her job, and God will take care of the rest. Ego is fearful when she doesn’t know what her assignment will be. The fear feels real, yet it is just another story. You may not know all that will be happening, but there are details that you do know and those you can put ego in charge of. Focus on what you know, here and now, and leave the rest up to God. For example, if health is a source of negative thinking, pay attention to the parts of your body that are feeling better than they were yesterday. Maybe you are taking good care of yourself, taking a salt bath, a nap, eating healthy foods. Put ego in charge of taking good care of you today and tomorrow, planning it out, knowing what’s needed, and implementing the plan. Then leave all else up to God.
2. Keep your attention focused in the present by actively listening to your own thoughts and paying attention to the ones that feel best. Follow those thoughts. If a course of action that is possible at this moment suggests itself, do it and see where that leads. If ego intrudes with negative thoughts that are not easily redirected by the thought reminder, “Story,” write the negative thoughts down on a piece of paper that you tuck away in a pocket. Tell yourself you will attend to those thoughts later. Then return to the train of thought that feels good, and allow it to take you where it will. At the end of the day burn the piece of paper upon which you have written your negative thoughts, saying, “I give these thoughts and the beliefs they represent to you, God (or your name for Source). I no longer need these stories.”
What’s the Good Stuff Right Now?
Pay attention to the good stuff. The hues of coral, violet and deep blue as the day gives way to twilight; the exciting project you are working on, the new meditation technique you want to try. Whatever it is that feels enticing to you. Ask yourself, “What’s the good stuff right now?” Then focus your attention on that, taking action as it occurs to you. If you feel ego kick up negative thoughts, remind yourself it is just a story, or write the thoughts down. You can also give ego a job to do. Figure out what you know, what you can take charge of, and get her focused on that. Now return your attention to the present moment and open to the joy in the garden of your soul!
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Holly Hildreth is an Empowerment Coach and Energy Health Practitioner, empowering clients to access their inner wisdom for healing and self-actualization. She is certified as an Energy Health Practitioner through ACEP, and has her Masters degree in Education from BU. Holly lives in Vermont and is available for phone sessions anywhere in the Continental United States. firstname.lastname@example.org 913-284-3585.