Tag Archives: Joy

AWAKENING TO TRUST YOURSELF

“TRUST IN WHAT YOU LOVE, CONTINUE TO DO IT, AND IT WILL TAKE YOU WHERE YOU NEED TO GO.” NATALIE GOLDBERG

University of Nebraska at Kearney dance students 1979

Do you trust yourself to make good decisions? Do you listen to yourself? Do you trust life to guide you where you need to go?

Last night I watched a video of dance performances that I choreographed when I taught dance at University of Nebraska at Kearney. I had forgotten how good the students were, considering that most of them had never studied dance. I also felt rather proud of myself for creating choreography that made them look graceful and talented, rather than like beginning dancers.

Watching the tapes was a joyful experience. It reminded me of a time when I loved the work I was doing and of the wonderful lessons that I learned from dance. Having been often sick as a child, I grew up not trusting my own body because of its weakness.  I felt insecure doing physical activity except for the hikes my family took when I always had someone to help and guide me.

Strengthening the Body Develops Confidence

In high school, I had modern dance one day a week, and as my body changed, my confidence improved. I developed muscles and strength. I felt stronger. I liked my body which I had previously not liked because I thought it was too skinny.  I began to trust myself more socially.

Dance Can Be A Spiritual Practice

The more I trusted myself, the more I loved studying dance and dancing.  As I matured, dance became a spiritual practice.  It took me where I needed to go, to a place where I learned to trust my body and my creativity, to moments of silence, to a balance between opposites, and to the expression and moderation of boundless energy.

Silence Takes Us Deeper

I learned to trust silence, to stand quietly, to be okay with doing nothing, to use silence to mindfully prepare for action. I no longer saw silence as time wasted. It allowed me to explore my inner richness and value what deeper thoughts rose to the surface to guide my life and movement.

Balance Requires Being Open

Learning to balance was a basic aspect of movement.  In class one day with Jenny Scanlon, a member of the Jose Limon company, teaching, we practiced balancing on our toes with our feet apart in second position. I was struggling, trying to decide what muscles to contract to keep my rocking body in position when Jenny said, “To balance you have to stretch – reach out into space.”

At that moment, I suddenly realized why I was struggling. I was contracting inward toward my center. I took a breath, lifted and opened my chest, stretched out into the space with my arms, lifting my spine toward the sky as I pressed my feet into the ground. Balance! Perfect balance!  I had to open in order to balance.

Confidence Allows Us To Take Risks

Most of all dance changed me from being a person who was afraid to take a risk to one who was often fearless.  Like all risk-takers, I had to learn when it was wise to take the risk and when not, but even trying to take a risk was a huge change for me.  If I could run across the stage, jump into the air and trust that my partner would catch me, which he usually did, I could learn to do other things in life that scared me.  And in those times when I jumped and my partner and I both fell from the force, I learned how to survive the fall without injury.

This taught me to put more energy into what I wanted in life—to go for it! I learned to choreograph my life.  To create moments of silence between my energetic expressions, organize what activities were most important, and venture into areas where I was a novice all took me to new experiences that broadened my life.  I learned to trust my intuition, my instincts, and my desire to live life more fully.

Dance Connects Us With Nature and Trust

It was never the applause or costumes that I loved about dancing—it was the earthiness.  I was a modern dancer and loved the feeling of my bare feet on the wooden stage.  It grounded me. Eartha Kitt once said, “I’m a dirt person.  I trust the dirt.  I don’t trust diamonds and gold.”  After all, the earth is our home, our foundation, the abundance that feeds us. After loving nature all my life and spending my childhood hiking and swimming in lakes and streams, despite my infirmities, I needed to feel in touch with nature.

As I became more in touch with my own body, I also became more aware of the earth on which I danced. When we dance, we interact with gravity.  We rebound from the earth.  We suspend in the air. The physical activity is basic to life.  Dance nourishes the body and soul.

Instead of being fearful of life, I learned to trust myself and life’s twists, turns and detours.  I learned to trust that whatever happened, I could handle it, and I learned to risk moving on when I eventually needed to stop dancing.  I risked becoming a writer and sharing my voice.  I learned that trusting what I love would take me where I needed to go.

What will you do today to become more trusting of yourself?

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  Limon Company – Psalm (excerpt), Awakening to Release Our Fear, Three Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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AWAKENING TO JOY

“Find the place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” Joseph Campbell

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

The excitement and celebration of the holidays often creates a crescendo of energy only to be followed by a period when our lives suddenly feel empty, especially if we depend on external events to make us happy. But the quiet and silence that follows in the midst of this winter may be the richest time of year. With cold weather keeping us inside and perhaps reducing our social activities, we may turn within more often than usual.

If we use this time to make New Year’s resolutions and take stock of what we accomplished during the past year, this time may be very beneficial. If we have accomplished what we hoped to accomplish, we have reason to celebrate and feel joyous. If we have failed to live up to our expectations, we may feel we are failures in some way and become depressed.

The Greatest Treasure is Within, Not Outside Us

But if we can look beyond the external and tangible and return to our core, we may find that what lies there is a treasure much greater than anything we have created in the world. If we meditate, pray, or do any spiritual work, we have probably already learned that the true joy that enlightens and uplifts us comes from within and it has nothing to do with what we achieve in the external world.

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Feeling We Have Failed Is A Choice

For the last few days, there have been things in my life that were upsetting and I became depressed. I became focused on what was wrong, worrying that these difficulties might never be resolved. Despite my tendency to expect the best in life, I began to let fear settle in and create anxiety and a feeling that I have failed.

I kept thinking, “How can I fix this?” It soon became clear that I couldn’t. So what were my choices? I needed some guidance and turned to Oneness by Rasha. I began to reread Chapter 8 because it focuses on how negative events in our lives may actually be opportunities to raise our awareness and shift into a more loving place. And even the most difficult advice is given with great love.

Experiencing Negative Events Is Not A Sign of Failure

What I’ve experienced recently is a negative, recurring theme. I was deeply touched by the words of Oneness on this subject. It said, “Do not feel, as these powerful episodes present themselves, that the experience is evidence of spiritual backsliding on your part. Quite the contrary. By virtue of the fact that you have manifested extremes of experience, despite being in a space of heart-centered clarity with the issue in question, you can feel confident that you are at a completion with it. You will wish to respond in ways that will not re-escalate the energy charge that is being released in the process of drawing certain chapters to a close.” (p. 72)

What is Good For All Is Good For Us

As Oneness continued on the subject two things stood out for me. First it was the question we need to ask in these circumstances: “What is it that one wants to experience as one’s reality?” (p. 73) What I wanted was peace, understanding, and love. So what did I need to do? The answer was to look beyond myself and see what was best for everyone in this situation. “When one expects and anticipates the optimum outcome for all concerned, that outcome cannot help but be manifested as reality.” (p.73)

“Of course!” I thought. I needed to let go of my fear or as Oneness suggests, surrender to it. When I did, the sadness left, and I knew that I must also surrender to the situation, knowing that surrendering to my inner journey, accepting what is, and getting in touch with the joy within would lead me where I needed to go.

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Joy Is Healing

As I began to meditate and welcome the silence, the fear and depression dropped away. I felt the very joy of being flood over and fill me. The external events in my life did not matter. I knew, as I have known many times before that the answers to problems will come when I go deeply within and find that joy, for it changes everything.

It is not some new age adage that all answers lie within—it is truth. When we ask the Universe for guidance and have the patience to listen for its reply, we will receive what we need. And that joy Joseph Campbell writes about will overcome and heal the pain we feel. Joy is the greatest healing power we can experience.

As I sat quietly and allowed the joy and peace to fill me, those dark and negative conclusions I had reached disappeared. The joy healed my emotional pain, cleaned out the mental rubbish, and even nourished my body. I don’t know what the final answer is; I only know that by living in the joy, I am most likely to find positive solutions to any problem that arises.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                             ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May this year bring all you desire and especially peace, love, and joy!

St Francis under a blanket of snow. Photo:Georganne Spruce

St Francis under a blanket of snow.
Photo:Georganne Spruce

DANCING FOOTLOOSE AND FANCY FREE

“When you are joyous, look deeply into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.  When you are sorrowful, look again into your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”  Khalil Gibran

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Photo: Georganne Spruce

How do you handle disappointment?  Does it plunge you into depression or are you able to learn from it and still expect the best from life?

Yesterday I sat in the doctor’s office nervously waiting for him to appear.  The silence calmed me a bit as did the smile from my fiancé who was there with me.  The doctor came in smiling after having seen the x-rays of the ankle I had broken.  “A good sign,” I thought, waiting for him to speak.

We Share Joy Simply By Expressing It

His words were exactly what I wanted to hear.  The boot was booted, and I could bear weight again.  We were all smiling and I was so happy I forgot to ask the questions I should have asked.  He could tell from the smile on my face that he needed to add, “But no jumping or running.”  And he laughed joyfully with me.

I may have been seated but I was jumping for joy, and so were the nurse and my fiancé.  It was contagious.  But that is often the way joy is—it radiates and infects those around us, and before they know it, they are dancing the dance with us.

It’s the small things on this journey that sometimes give the greatest joy—being able to climb up six stairs without falling, being able to sleep with my foot free of the heavy boot, my fiancé bringing me a vase of Gerber daisies, having two hours to sit and talk with my best friend.  Even the ice cream I frequently get seemed tastier.

We Experience Sadness Only When We Lose What We Value

When we are forced to focus, we may actually realize that we become sad only when we lose or feel we will lose what we care about.  For an independent active person like me, not being able to walk for six weeks was huge.  For someone who is sedentary, it might be just an inconvenience.  For someone who follows a particular football team, the loss of a game is upsetting.  Not being a fan, I wouldn’t even notice.

I value freedom, and I need a lot of it in terms of making my own decisions, following my spiritual path, and writing.  None of these were affected by the restrictions I have had recently, but the physical restriction weighed me down so much that I began to get depressed about growing older, and I worried about the time when I would be permanently restricted.

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Even When Negative Experiences Occur, We Can Still Expect the Best From Life

At that point, I stopped and thought, “Wait a minute.  I never think like this.  I always assume I’ll be active until the day I die.”  I took a deep breath, did a little meditation, and let the fear go.  My sense of well-being returned.  What happens, happens, but I’ll always take the best care of myself that I can, so there is no reason to dwell on the worst that could happen.  It’s not unreasonable for me to expect all will be well even when, once in a while, negative things happen.

Because I was a dancer for many years, just being able to walk feels like an incredible freedom.  I feel like I’m dancing just because I can look other adults in the eye now instead of seeing the world from a knee-level perspective.  Everyone is my dancing partner and I’m feeling footloose and fancy free.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                             ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Allowing What Is, Worried? How Not to Let It Get the Best of You – Wayne Dyer

AWAKENING TO THE NEXT GOOD THING

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.”  Alexander Graham Bell

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Have you ever been offered the opportunity to do something new but turned it down because you had your mind set on something else?  Do you ever find it difficult to let go when it’s time to move on?  How open are you to new experiences?

Often Difficult To Let Go of Grief

When a door closes in our lives, the death of a friend or loved one, the end of a job, or bad knees end our tennis games, our tendency may be to hang onto this lost reality.  We can’t see that the end of one thing may be the beginning of something else that is equally or more meaningful because we are so submerged in the feelings of loss.

Recently, I lost a friend, a photographer, whose pictures of nature blended beautifully with my nature poetry.  Because of that, we created slide and reading presentations for our spiritual community’s weekly celebration.  I feel the loss of her as a friend, but I also am grieving the loss of our creative collaboration.  It is hard to accept the idea that she and those experiences are gone.

Photo by Elliott Brown

Photo by Elliott Brown

When I first stopped teaching full-time, I started writing more seriously, but I still spent years looking for another teaching job, even when it became apparent that no one was hiring someone with as many years experience as I had.  I was afraid not to have a full-time regular job, so I still didn’t commit myself totally to the writing or look for a writing job.  The door stood open for years before I was willing to walk through it.

New Opportunities May Lay Behind Open Doors

When I finally committed myself to finishing my memoir, everything I needed magically fell into place.  Once it was completed, other amazing things started happening.  Years earlier, a medium had told me that when I finished my book, I would meet the man of my dreams.  At the time, I thought that didn’t sound very realistic—what did those two things have in common?

I missed the point—following my passion allowed me to be who I truly was and attracted to me someone who could appreciate who I was because he was also a writer.  By completing the book and developing a blog, I opened a door.  I gained confidence in my abilities and felt I was finally doing what I was called to do.  But my love’s side of the story is also about closed and open doors.

His wife died after a long illness and his grief was so deep, he wasn’t sure he could go on.  Finally, he came to a point where he decided he could go on, knowing that was what she wanted for him.  Eventually, he stepped away from his former life and walked through the open door, not knowing what he would find.   Because he was willing to risk stepping into the unknown, we met each other and have created a lovely life together.

Love Birds

Photo by Skadi

There Is Always A Time To Move On

When we cling to the door that has closed, we stunt our own growth.  Our lives, like the life of the earth, must move through many seasons just as spring always follows after winter.  It is good that we spend time grieving when it is appropriate, but the time also must come when we are willing to look at that open door and walk through it to see what treasures lay on the other side.

We never know when the next good thing will come along, so it is wise to remain open to new experiences.  When we choose not to, it is usually because we are afraid of the unknown or feel inadequate.  If we learn to let go of those fears, we can better see if the opportunity truly has value for us.

Fear Blocks Us From Choosing New Experiences

Fear is the source of every block in our lives.  If we make it a habit to avoid open doors, we strengthen the resistance caused by fear.  When we feel fearful, we are reluctant to move forward because our minds focus on our former negative experiences instead of focusing on solving the current problem.  Releasing this fear will free us to move through that open door.

Releasing Our Fears Gives Us Courage and Joy

Without fear, we can more easily discern if the new option being presented to us is, in fact, a wise choice.  Without fear, we can discern what elements of the situation we need to explore more completely.  Without fear, we will be more in touch with our intuition and inner guidance and be open to experience more joy in life.

Open doors are always an opportunity to look at something we may never have considered or that is available because our life or thinking have shifted in some way.  It is the open door that lets the light through.   But we’ll never be able to experience its healing unless we step through it.

If you would like to know more about how to release your fears and you live in the Asheville/Flat Rock, NC area, consider taking my “Release Your Fears” class at Blue Ridge Community College, Center for Life Long Learning. Mondays March 3 & 10, 1-3 pm, $30.  Register ahead at the college or call 828-694-1740.  For more information and my video, see Workshops.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                                 ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: How to Become Open to Life, Seven Secrets of a Joyful Life, 50 Ways to Open Your World to New Possibilities

DANCING TO LIFE

“Dance when you’re broken open.  Dance if you’ve torn the bandage off.  Dance in the middle of the fighting.  Dance in your blood.  Dance when you’re perfectly free.”  Rumi

Photo by Sandy Jones

Photo by Sandy Jones

Does your dance of life include the dirges as well as the waltzes?  Can you find some peace or joy in the really challenging parts of life?  Are you able to let go when it’s time to let go?

It has been a tough few days.  My dear friend Sandy passed on this week although I hoped somehow she would survive cancer.  Whenever I think of Sandy, I think of her beautiful photography and her eternal dance with nature.  She invited me to join her one day to take pictures and I learned so much.  She had a magical eye and each picture she took showed me some aspect of the subject that I would have overlooked without seeing it through her eyes.

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Challenges May Often Change Us For The Better

Sandy was such an inspiration to me as I sometimes took her to chemotherapy.  During our rides, we began to talk deeper in ways we never had before.  She shared more of her life, and she opened like a blooming red rose.  I won’t try to describe the change that took place—I’ll let her speak for herself, so please take a moment to listen to this video, and meet my dear friend.

When I heard a week ago that she would make her transition soon, I began to really feel the loss.  I couldn’t bear the thought that we would never dance together again as artists as we had when she created a slide show to match the poetry I read.  Our exciting creative collaboration was really the center of our friendship, and it had been a long time since I had created work with another person.

Soon after hearing the news, I walked into my bedroom where one of her photos hung on the wall, a picture of a bridge over part of a stream with dogwood framing the scene.  And there she was standing on the bridge waving good-bye to me smiling, and every time in the last week that I have passed that picture, her image was there in my mind’s eye.  I felt such peace knowing she was ready.

Photo:  Sandy Swanson copied from the original

Photo: Sandy Swanson copied from the original

We Can Always Choose How We Respond To Life

Sandy reminds me that the dance of life is so varied and we can’t always make it be what we want it to be.  I am starting a new life with the most loving partner I could ever imagine; Sandy has passed from this life.  It doesn’t seem fair.  Life—it just is.  Someday I’ll be crossing that bridge too—we all will.  And it will be my final dance, but in the meantime I’m going to dance to all of life and feel each moment completely.

Dancing to life is about engaging with whatever is happening and feeling it fully.  We can kick up our heels joyfully or we can drag our feet remorsefully.  We can jump start new projects or we can slowly waltz around them.  It’s okay if the dancing hurts sometimes because life isn’t always good to us, but if we learn to cultivate joy, it can lift the quality of life immensely.

We Can Dance With Our Bodies And Minds

There’s no better way to find joy than to dance with our bodies or our minds. When I write I dance with words.  Others make preparing food a dance.  This week, the Olympic skaters will be dancing on ice.  When we hike in the forest, we dance among the trees.  A good dinner and conversation with friends is like a dance.  When we sleep, we may dance with our dreams.

When I feel sad about Sandy, I remember that she’s now with Oneness and she is well—dancing with the stars, I suspect, and of course taking their pictures.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                                   ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Finding Peace in Death, Navigating Loss and Dealing with the Pain of Letting Go

AWAKENING TO A PURE MIND

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.  When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”  Buddha

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How do you feel about the New Year?  Do you feel anxious or at peace?  What creates this feeling that you have?  If you don’t like it, what do you do to change it?

After two days of below freezing temperatures and some snow that intensified the light coming into my dining room to the point of almost blinding me, I’m reveling in the easy blend of light and shadow coming through the trees into the room where I work.  It is soft and balanced.

Begin the Year With Gratitude

I am beginning this year with much gratitude.  I do not live where the worst of the winter storms are occurring although our temperatures have been the lowest since the 1800s.  I have a warm house, plenty of food, and love.  I am blessed.

I am also grateful for the time I was able to spend with my brother and his family, especially the time with my grand nieces and grand nephew, three of who are two years old, and one who is four.  There were also three dogs in attendance on Christmas.  It was wild and lovely.  Just being with them was a joy.  Their excitement was contagious.

How we Think Changes Our Vibration

But after the hustle and bustle of the holidays, a profound quiet and a bit of depression enveloped me.  It was time to rebalance and contemplate my plans for the New Year.  During the holidays, the joy I felt was created primarily by external circumstances, but now, living hundreds of miles from the rest of my family, I have had to return to my own resources.  The joy I felt has slipped away.

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As I thought about what I needed to do in the New Year, especially with my writing, I first saw all the things I had hoped to accomplish last year and didn’t.  Well, what was done, was done.  I reminded myself that I could only change the future, not the past.  On the other hand, the new relationship in my life has been a great joy and given me the kind of companionship I haven’t had for years.  As I began to focus on the good things in my life, I began to feel my vibration rise.

As my vibration rose, a joy began to well up inside.  I was following my greatest passion by writing and just thinking about continuing to do that brought me joy.  When I began to clean up my lists of things to do and develop a plan for this year, I let go of the self-judgment that had depressed me and I began to feel more peaceful.

What We Think Affects How We Feel

And that is how it works.  What we think determines how we feel.  As the Buddha points out, joy comes from a pure heart.  So how do we create a pure heart?  I know that meditation has always helped or writing in my journal, exploring the meaning behind the events or ideas moving through my life.  Doing this regularly clears the emotional and mental clutter that distracts me from a natural peace and joy.

Still, life is full of challenges.  Before the holidays, I had signed up for a prescription drug plan. This week I talked to them about covering two custom compounded drugs I take.  After two and a half hours of talking with several people who were unable to grasp that one drug consists of a combination of two drugs, they sent a fax to my doctor for approval with the drugs inaccurately named and spelled.  I had spelled slowly the names of the drugs several times for two people, but they did not record them accurately.  This experience tested my patience to the limit.  It seemed ridiculous.  I kept taking a lot of deep breaths, reminding myself that getting upset would not help the situation.

At the end of the day, the problem with the insurance company was still not resolved, but at least I had been able to constantly adjust my mind and center myself throughout the experience.  I was able to move on to other things and relax that evening knowing that I did all I could do.

Return to Your Spiritual Center for Guidance

Many of our challenges appear because we are living in a time of great change.  The political and economic structures we have depended upon are changing.  Remaining flexible and centered is the most effective way of dealing with change.  Oneness tells us that when our lives seem to “veer off course” and we feel we are “without a compass,” “All that remains, are the clues that begin to emerge from within” (p. 110).

In order to recognize those clues, we must return to our spiritual center and listen to our inner guidance where all answers reside.  We must clear the mind of judgment and resistance and reside in peace.  As we continue this journey, the way will not always be clear or kind, but it can lead us to a better place.  How we experience each event is largely our choice, and when things happen that we don’t like, it is our choice how much we invest in positive or negative thinking about them.

Developing a pure heart by changing our thinking will always take us to a better place where joy becomes a part of who we are.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                        ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  The Pure Mind, How to Create Joy for Today: 7 Tips for a Happy Life, Eckhart Tolle: Embodying Stillness – A Guided Meditation