“We remind them of their capacity to create inner joy… and what we find is their illness gets better… most likely whatever the psychological or physical illness you’re suffering from will become less.” – Dr. David Simon on KFAI Radio Twin Cities
THIS IS THE SHIZ, FOLKS.
Ok, I know I tend to get a little pedantic and dramatic. (Imagine that, a yogi and creative type.) But seriously, when I opened up the live stream of Radio KFAI on my computer for the first time, thanks to my student Genna (THANK-YOU GENNA!), I immediately started writing this blog post based on the program that just happened to be on: Health Notes (KFAI Monday nights Minneapolis folks, 6:30 – 7:30). Take heed: a Neurologist, also an expert in Ayurveda, is telling us that at healing retreats where he hosts patients with ailments as serious as cancer, he doesn’t focus on their illness at all. He focuses on getting them to find joy in their own brains, by triggering ideas and situations which bring those feelings. With that feeling of joy, they bring gentle movement to the body through yoga, tai chi, etc.
This is where it gets interesting… With all that movement, while focusing on the feeling of joy, we enable all those happy hormones to infiltrate our whole bodies – our blood stream, our cells, our selves… and thankfully, we have research to show us that there are HUGE physical and mental benefits to bringing more of these happy hormones by way of cellular turnover to further and further corners of our bodies. With practice, and at our own pace, we see-saw from comfort zone to just beyond comfort in order to get into those tense, never-before-reached bodily corners… and with lots of breath.
This is what I have come to believe as the most direct path to health. Is it an absolute guarantee that we will STAY healthy all the GD time? No. “Absolute” is – aside from being a delicious vodka – a **concept** sold to us in order to get us to buy in.
Taking those happy thoughts and feelings, and getting further into those corners is the tricky part. That’s why there’s a word for it in Yoga philosophy: Dharma. Meaning work or purpose.
Let’s look at this see-saw idea with a bit of a storybook approach. We’ll call our story,
THE DARK TEACHER and the JOY FINDING FAIRY:
The counter to the concept of focusing on what makes us happy is not to say that we should just pull up our boot straps and look on the bright side every time. When I teach, I often try to remind students that we are always moving in two directions. We are pushing down from our pelvic floor / belly through the legs into the feet, while also drawing that energy from our very connected-to-the-mat (aka grounded) feet back up into the stability of our pelvic floor… and there’s a lot of surface area between those two points, might I add, which is why this stuff is never immediate, and why PRACTICE (broken record, Calley…) is still… yep, the most important part.
So, enters the Dark Teacher, an opposite force to our protagonist, the, ahem, Joy Finding Fairy. Sometimes you have to sit with whatever crappy situation has presented itself to you. And, one step further, we are best to really sit and look at all that **stank** and spend some time assessing how it came to us, and what can we learn from this situation… looking at the mess – weather its a physical injury, an emotional scar, or some kind of situational turmoil – and being willing to question how we really feel about the situation is a humbling humbling teacher. (Mutter expletives under breath at Dark Teacher.) Sometimes we need these Dark Teacher(s) for a moment… They give us new awareness IF we choose to look at it that way… but when these Dark Teachers stick around too long – THAT is when things get, well sticky. We get stuck. Depression. Anxiety that won’t go away. Or, to put it more literally, perhaps a broken arm that we just can’t seem to stop using long enough to let it heal…
And so these are the trying times – to get away from the stuck place, where we go again and again and again toward the power and pull of the Dark Teacher, and we start to think that this is just the way it is. This is where we figure out how to find and follow the Joy Finding Fairy. For which, I’ve linked some great articles by clicking here, and scrolling down to the stress, anxiety, and depression section.
So, really, the thing is we need the Dark Teacher to, well, teach us new things. But we also need the Joy Finding Fairy when it seems like our lessons of darkness (mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha) are consuming us day in and day out.