Have you ever felt like someone has put a negative projection on you and no matter what you do, it seems like their mask has gotten stuck to your face? I’ve had a few of those kinds of encounters recently and am still working to lift myself out of a victim mind set — a “what’d I do-ooo??” state of being. So I’ve been asking myself sincerely (& without whining!) “How can I release my own stuff and come back to my heart-center?”
In my book, The Way of Joy, I talk about how I believe that we have the capacity to “compost” anything that happens in our lives and make it food for growth. By doing this, I believe we can literally embody our own integrity, even in the most extreme or unjust circumstances.
One of the people I quote in the book who has most inspired me is Hector Aristizábal. A human rights activist, psychologist, and actor-director who was severely tortured in Columbia, his country of origin, he is a counselor to other torture victims. He has said, “Any time you go through a difficult ordeal, it can awaken inner resources. Instead of being a victim, each person can learn the lesson his or her spirit needs to learn … Sometimes, in the ordeal, we find the seeds of our identity.”
What do you do to shift from feeling like a victim to reclaiming your power?
I’ve enjoyed following a discussion on-line lately about the meaning of mastery, whether in the context of martial arts or, more broadly, becoming an expert or master in any field. From the point of view of qigong, ever since early Taoists first went on a quest to discover the secrets of longevity, many practitioners have demonstrated that, when humans harness and develop their energy, or qi, anything can happen, whether in health, business, relationships, or communities. The unexpected and boundless abilities of qi masters can inspire us, wake us up to vast possibilities, our own unlimited potential and infinite power.
At the same time, I’ve seen too many situations where power was used to abuse and control people, to drain rather than share life force. At some point, I recognized that simply developing my own qi‑—how and where I direct my attention and energy —was no longer sufficient. I needed redefine for myself the elements of true “mastery,” regardless of what trade, and include not just what a master is able to do, but how he or she can be, using their skills.
For me, one of the most thrilling products of qi cultivation is discipline—what poet Monza Naff describes as becoming a “disciple of self.” This shifts the expression of power from adversarial to integrative, from “power over” to “power within.” When we desire “power over,” we are motivated by fear or the attempt to conquer fear. When we cultivate “power within,” we are inspired by Love, a joyful embrace of our wholeness.
Mastering how you focus your energy not only reinforces you, it causes an energetic ripple that resonates both inside of you and in the world around you. Then, as people in the Law of Attraction say, you begin to draw to you the people, places and things that help you grow.
Vicki Dello Joio, founder of The Way of Joy: A Spiritual Fitness program, is a teacher, speaker and performing artist. Integrating over 40 years of Chi Kung practice with other martial arts as well as her work in Yoga, Feldenkreis, physical fitness and theater, Vicki has developed a dynamic set of tools to increase awareness, transform obstacles into opportunities and enhance creative potential. Book: The Way of Joy: An Evolutionary Process to Awaken Inspiration, Focus Intention and Manifest Fulfillment, CD: Short Meditations for a Busy Life.