Part of my iRest® training is learning to recognise uncaused joy. An aspect of our true nature that is always here, and that is unrelated to circumstance. I practice this in my daily meditation by feeling into the felt sense of aliveness in my body and mind. The felt sense of being alive. I find it to be a gentle buzz or hum and an openness, a readiness for what is to come. A readiness for experience. It’s unrelated to good or bad. I have found that I can access uncaused joy by feeling the gratitude for being alive and simply having experiences, regardless of their quality. I’ve come to know this subtle feeling, and the more familiar it becomes the more I recognise that it’s always here, even in challenging times. I’m just bringing it more into the foreground.

(If you don’t feel this, don’t worry. That’s normal. It’s usually drowned out by busyness and distractions. It’s always there though, waiting for you to discover, first-hand, in your meditation/mindfulness practice – just saying).

Back to work

Recently, I’ve gone back to work. Well, not that teaching yoga and meditation isn’t work, but it hasn’t been great for paying the bills. So, I went back a couple of days a week to what I used to do, what used to pay me well – working in the administration of aged care in the community. I’m surprised by the extent to which this change in circumstance has affected my mood. It feels like a little cog that wasn’t moving, like a piece of a puzzle that was missing, is activated again, in place, and it has got the whole machine working more smoothly and made the whole picture make sense. I feel like I’m making a contribution to society. I’m a part of something bigger than myself. And, importantly, I have the great satisfaction of knowing that I’m earning enough to pay my way.

This has got me thinking about happiness and circumstance. I love that over the last decade I have been able to cultivate a sense of equanimity (being ok no matter the circumstances) that is truly accessible no matter what is going on. And, I am really recognising that this recent adjustment to my circumstances has made a real difference to my overall peace of mind and well-being.

Thinking in binaries

I am struck by the overwhelming tendency to think in binaries, it’s one or the other. This recent change is coaxing me out of my binary thinking to recognise the importance of both, i.e. an innate sense of peace and happiness, and the happiness that comes from circumstance. Of course both are important I say to myself. Duh!

However, I do think that our culture amplifies the importance of circumstance as the only source of happiness and this for the most part goes unquestioned.  It was a big, brave, audacious step for me to let the pendulum swing the other way and let myself be led by my inner compass rather than shoring up external circumstances.

Uncaused happiness, it isn’t everything

I’m so glad that I’ve done that and that I’ve cultivated the ability to access uncaused happiness. That is a huge gift that I am extremely grateful for. And, as life tends to arrange, I now have the opportunity of coming to a more nuanced understanding of the importance of uncaused joy. It isn’t everything. The serenity prayer comes to mind:

God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I am grateful for this Biblical wisdom that has threaded its way through my life since my early twenties. ‘The wisdom to know the difference’, there it is. I can recognise when there are things that I can and should change that will be better for me and those around me.

Listen deeply

I have found that this requires the ability to let go of rigidly held concepts and ideals and really trust and listen deeply to my needs as they arise moment to moment. You see, at the time I left my corporate life I pretty much had the circumstances I wanted. And yet, I didn’t feel fulfilled or that I was aligned with my life’s purpose. I trusted my heart-felt desire to take the leap and leave a secure source of income and employment to pursue my dream, to follow my heart.

I’ve shared before that it hasn’t been easy and what I usually say is that I have no regrets but that I had no idea how hard it would be. I remember feeling quite betrayed and angry at God, the Universe (whatever pointer you want to use) for not rewarding me for taking the leap. What I have come to learn though, is that rewards can take many different forms that aren’t necessarily aligned with the notions of success or reward within the dominant culture.

Finding balance

Here I am, six years later, after many disappointments in trying to establish my business. After being told that I was wrong for wanting to make a living from teaching yoga and meditation. Finally, finding a balance. Tweaking the levers in this way has given me such a lift. It has taken pressure off having to make money from teaching what I love. I find that I’m enjoying the teaching so much more without that pressure.

How tightly I held to my ideal. Working for myself. Following my heart. Teaching what I love. Now, I still get to do that, and I get to use old skills, which feels like welcoming back disowned parts of myself. I feel less isolated. I am more a part of the working world. Most importantly at the moment, I have a sense of empowerment that I can pay my own way.

Amen, to the ‘wisdom to know the difference’.