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The Journey to Joy
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

THE STUNNING alignment of planets that shine down on us during this solstice period is like a light show, a flurry of laser beams and pyrotechnics to start the festivities. Did you miss Woodstock, where the yearning in idealistic young hearts spiraled upward to embrace and magnify the music? We're having another such event, a redo of sorts, although it's inside out this time: the yearning of our hearts is recreating the world to come up and meet our Higher expectation.

What our hearts are expressing has seldom been so important. We're standing in the gateway to 2012, and because it's all happening within us, it's up to us what the music sounds like, how much joy we infuse it with and how powerful the vibration becomes to sweep across the world.

Fear is always with us to some degree, especially now as the ground is shifting beneath us, seemingly unstable and unreliable; but fear is no longer driving this bus. There's a brash determination moving through our consciousness, demanding that what was best about yesterday come back to us so that we can use it to create tomorrow.

The Supreme Court gave us a fourth, and hopefully last, ruling this week that punched holes in the Bush hijack of the Constitution, rendering rule of law moot when he pronounced habeas corpus inapplicable to those we hold in detention. We've demanded a change in direction, and that has freed up energies that were blocked these last long years, with things hidden bubbling to the top to be discarded. For instance, news about who designed and approved torture has opened a gusher, giving us insights into the darkness of our current government and showing us clear choices ahead. It is only politics, not public opinion, that keeps Bush from impeachment.

Windows have opened that were too long slammed shut; in California, thousands of same-sex couples are rushing to wed, their unions no longer denied legal and spiritual legitimacy. The Congress has pushed ahead with unaccustomed confidence to provide protection for, and add to, our wilderness areas; they are ignoring Bush's threats to veto various bi-partisan bills, and they continue to use the power of subpoena to determine the culpability of the Bush administration in every area of divisive governance. And despite John McCain's accusation that Obama has a pre-Towers "9/10 mentality," the Democratic candidate currently leads the polls in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, swing states that have traditionally gone to conservatives.

We are living through a potent phase of history, a kind of Ground Zero of shift. We wondered whether it would happen; we couldn't wait for it to happen; and now it's here, if we can even notice it above the sound of the television. For those who are noticing, or hoping that it's true, many don't necessarily know what to make of it. But this is simple enough: be aware, enter in, acknowledge, participate. What was is fading quickly to reveal a new possibility, a new understanding, a new sensibility.

We've had our feet on this path much longer than we think, and we have a longer journey ahead than we can imagine. That's both the good and bad news, I suppose; we want things in the here and now. It's a conundrum, our thought process: we want results we can see this very minute, so we limit the scope of our desire to the present; yet so few minds actually reside in the present moment, more preoccupied with the past and future than now. Celebrating each moment we're in on this long path into shift will put wind beneath our wings and give us entry to the joy we seek.

"Joy? Where is all this joy," you might ask. "Iowa is under water, threats against Iran are mounting, our veterans are coming home with wounds that will last a lifetime and our economy is in the tank. How is that joyful?"

It's the misidentification of joy itself that puts it in the either/or category for so many of us. We think of joy as a response to something external. It's not. Eckhart Tolle explains it thus: "'I enjoy doing this or that', it is really a misperception. It makes it appear that the joy comes from what you do, but that is not the case. Joy does not come from what you do, it flows into what you do and thus into this world from deep within you."

Joy is an inside job, and something we contribute to our own lives and those we touch if we are willing to find the glass half full instead of half empty. The Eastern Masters are often described as joyful, having cleared their chakras of dense energy and learned to detach from the drama of circumstance; joy, it appears, is the default position that occurs naturally when we learn to get out of our own way. It is also much subtler and potent than we imagine; I've described it as little strains of Beethoven rather than loud blasts of rock 'n roll.

Joy is more like a humming bird than an eagle: more recognizable in a whisper-soft caress than a bear hug that lifts you off your feet. Joy isn't a big production. It comes upon us in fleeting moments, brief encounters, triggering something inside us that's bigger than the galaxy itself: perhaps it's a taste of Home.

I think joy comes to us in snatches rather than overwhelming floods because we're unaccustomed to its power and intensity -- it almost frightens us and yet it is that very thing we seek with every hope and wish. It's a reconnection with the joy of life, doled out judiciously like cookies after school to reward and encourage us after a hard day. And make no mistake, joy is the amulet in our pocket we will need for our journey.

Of course seeing and being the joy is a choice, and one that many of us haven't noticed is available to us. We're more preoccupied with the challenges and circumstances that assault us than with the power that resides within us. One of those snippets that found residence in my brain long ago was a bit from Dan Millman's book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, where a student of the all-wise character named Socrates had manifested his joy in ownership of a small, intimate, gourmet restaurant.

The passage I reference found Millman's (autobiographical) character watching the restaurant burn, with his friend standing by helplessly as firemen battle the blaze. As Millman moves to comfort him, every emotion runs across the man's face -- shock, sorrow, loss, disappointment, despair -- and yet it is instantly replaced by a grin of joy and welcome as he recognizes his friend.

How is that possible? It is in fully feeling our emotions that we are able to release them as spent energy; if we do not allow ourselves to experience the full pain of our disappointments, we saddle ourselves with lingering energy blocks awaiting further expression. This is called baggage, don't-cha know.

Some New Agers think that expressing negative emotions will impact their ability to manifest a positive future; I think that refusing to fully express what is negative simply stores it in some deep corner in the attic of our psyche. The complete expression of our emotions is not harmful to us, so long as we're quickly able to move beyond them. In the East, they call this ever-shifting kaleidoscope of emotions, "the restless tiger pacing the jungle."

Emotions are ever with us to acknowledge, observe and be allowed to move through us, as we remain unharmed. If we lock into them rather than letting them go, pity parties and poor me-s keep us looping in self-defeating energy. Allowing a complete catharsis of emotion gives us permission to step up into joy.

In this remarkable time frame, there are things we can do to make ourselves aware of life's wondrous possibilities and help us open to joy. Remember that old acronym KISS? Keep It Simple, Stupid. The skills we need are so elemental that they seem almost silly, but they are the grease for the skids that move us along.

The first thing we can do is remain aware that a higher potential is there for us, and that we're part of it. Write a post-it note to yourself and put it in an obvious place. A dear friend made me a cross-stitch years ago that says, "Good Is Always Glad To Happen." Amen to that. Look for good; it's there. Expect it, and make it welcome in your life. Remember, the wonder we seek comes from our own creative awareness, our ability to establish a morphic field and resonance with higher possibilities; a direct result of cause and effect. ACIM tells us that miracles are only a change in perception. Quantum physics informs us that matter responds to expectation and intention. What appears to happen outside of us must always begin within us.

Smile. You have no idea what kind of unreleased sorrows the person in front of you is bearing, so determine to be kind at all times. Your frown could be the straw to break their back and your smile could be the thing that lifts them out of themselves. If you have some criticism that you feel must be said, remember the rule of diplomacy -- if your message is to be received, you must deliver three bits of positive reinforcement before you pass along the negative. Perhaps while you're trying to think of the first three, the last bit will soften and morph into something else. Try it and see.

Laugh. Grumpy comedian Lewis Black says that he believes there may indeed be a God because of laughter; we are the only mammals who have that capacity, and that seems to smack of Divine intent to him. Humor, of course, is a matter of self-reflection, so that makes perfect sense to me. Our dispositions and our immune systems are brightened with every bit of laughter we can manage. Some say it's the language of the angels and I wouldn't doubt it.

Find the things that tickle you and put them at the forefront of your day. As an animal lover, I subscribe to a daily post that gives me sweet and funny pictures and captions; I never fail to smile or giggle, and on some days I laugh until I think I'll explode with the silly charm of it. If you have friends that laugh easily, spend more time with them. Create ways to bring humor into your life, because giving yourself that soul tune-up helps you keep your balance in a shifting scenario.

Serve. Do something for others; give away what you want. That is what depressed people are advised to do because it gets them out of their own emotional snarls. Service moves us from "I" consciousness to "we" consciousness, and we is not a lonely place. Edgar Cayce told us that on the earth plane, the first rule was "serve or suffer."

We know a lot about that second one -- it's time to discover the first. Many of us volunteer in some capacity; but that doesn't have to have a formal face, come with a uniform and a name tag, or take more time than we think we have. Look for opportunities: mow your elderly neighbor's lawn, offer to baby-sit so a new mom can get some sleep, clean up the side of the road to model pride in our communities, read to little kids at the library. Find something that suits you, and give some part of yourself away. That is how we receive from the universe.

Love. Love without conditions or expectations and, if you're really brave, love the unlovely; you know, the ones you disagree with, fear or disapprove. If that's more than you can manage when everything seems impossibly at cross-point, then borrow a little of that potent creativity we're dancing in and superimpose the face of your child or your mate or that one you love beyond reason over the features of the person giving you fits. Allow the mental/emotional construct of the enemy to fade away. Real love does not require agreement or approval or even cooperation; it just requires willingness. Love because it's what you were made for: you need no other rationale. And God/dess knows, the unlovely can use it.

"So here we are," you say, "poised on the edge of a new way of being in a challenging, shifting and complex world and you're telling me to smile and laugh and serve and love? Things my mother and my Kindergarten teacher told me to do?" Yes, I am. Who told you this was complicated? Difficult, yes -- complicated, no. Joy is that essence within us that is layered over with years of complications we've put there. Complex makes us tired, simple is refreshing. The more habitual we make these simple virtues, the easier it is to see the results.

Little kids know that; they have simplicity down to an art form. Here's my final suggestion for an easier passage through this time frame. If time is an illusion, a circular rather than a linear exercise, then that perfect little child we were is still available to us. I'm not telling you to do more exercises to nurture and facilitate your inner child; I'm suggesting that you ARE that child, fresh from the other side and wiser than anyone cares to admit. Present in the moment, brimming with laughter, shining with love. Joy by definition.

You are that child if you want to be, if you're willing to let it be that easy, willing to summon that essence from your vast wealth of soul memory. Fold some time, because you can, you know; call that in, sit with it awhile and you will be amazed how much lighter you feel.

We're in the 2012 passage; we're in the gateway to tomorrow. Our tomorrow will be resonating with what we make of ourselves today. What if that future found us smiling, laughing, serving and loving? What if our new paradigm created us as playful and joyful as Divine children, as guileless and enthusiastic and full of life? What if we were willing to give up our cynicism and wounding to re-inhabit that initial explosion of childlike joy and pass it around like candy at Halloween? If that's what we want, then we know what to do: simple majik to heal a world that's forgotten joy.

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