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?
One concept I work with in The Way of Joyis what I call “Integrity Activates Change”. The way I see it, in order to create change — to pivot what you don’t want into what you dowant — requires being able to acknowledge and embrace your “whole” self — including all of your history, both “positive” and “negative”. Then I believe you are better able to make self-respecting choices that integrate all of who you are, including all of your different aspects or inner voices.
The questions I often return to that guide me back to my own integrity, the embrace of my whole self are:
Do you feel aligned with your vision and your passion?
What do you do when you hit roadblocks?
Even when something frightens, angers, or demoralizes you, how might you use it?
The next performance of Living Arts Playback Theater will be Traces of the Trade: An Afternoon of Film and Interactive Theater on the Legacy of Slavery on Feb. 4.
What is a challenge you’ve grown from that contributes to who you are and what you offer others?
Do you ever have days when you find yourself railing against things that Just Don’t Feel Fair? —where it feels like the universe is conspiring in a Job-like way to keep you from doing what you want to do? How can you follow your passion when you hit the roadblocks, the nay-sayers or the voices of self-doubt that appear to drag you down? In fact, is all that appears to be bad really bad?
In an earlier blog, I spoke about The Law of Attraction and how, for me, the most interesting work is to hold the stance of accepting, even welcoming, all that happens as food for spiritual/personal growth and development.
I want to be very clear that when I say to accept what’s going on, I don’t mean submit or “there’s nothing you can do to change things so just buck up and deal with it.” For many people the idea of acceptance is so connected to submitting or enduring that they believe the choice to “accept” would result in even fewer choices than they already have.
But I mean something very different.
I’m talking about avoiding a pitfall, the trap of keeping your focus on what should be and so losing sight of opportunities embedded in what is. Focusing on “what is,” rather than on something more “ideal,” makes you better able to make clear choices about how you want to relate to a situation rather than getting stuck in a self-defeating, powerless state of “it is not supposed to be that way” or “it’s just not fair.”
When have you seen an undesired situation transform from a challenge into something that ended up being a gift?
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.
As we move towards Winter Solstice and the days grow shorter, there tends to be a social pressure to be Out and About, get things done, shop and socialize. In some ways these two states can feel out-of-sync or contradictory, thus producing tension in our minds and bodies.
In past vlogs I’ve talked about different natural stress relievers: bringing your focus to your breath or taking a moment to slow down to align your body and become present like a baby Buddha.
Today I’d like to offer a short easy qigong practice to help stay grounded during times of stress or tension during accelerated times.
Do you notice anything different in how you feel after you’ve tried this out or do you feel about the same?
While I was videotaping this vlog in my garden this afternoon, eight squirrels crossed my path, jaws bulging with nuts. One after another, they stopped to sit up on their haunches, and look at me inquisitively, as if to ask “why aren’t you taking care of the business of storing energy for the winter ahead?” Each little animal gifted me with eye contact, a moment of presence. I found myself slowing down, sometimes with a burst of laughter, and always with a sense that these interactions were a precious teaching. Then I would start my video over again.
These moments of what Eckart Tolle calls the Power of Now, of being present with “what is,” feel incredibly valuable to me. So often people tell me they feel so overwhelmed by their lives, whether from an overabundance of “to-do’s” or from a sense of exhaustion, that they feel like life is passing them by. I have certainly experienced both sides of that equation. Either way, the experience is stressful and certainly not an optimal way to live.
I believe that anytime you are able to relax your attention, focus on your breath, lengthen your spine, and take a moment to slow down enough to become present, you are entering a “qigong” state of being that has the capacity of transforming stuck energy into a flow that can serve you much better.
What are some of the ways you reclaim your birthright of being a “baby Buddha”?
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.