My life has been a riotous ride for the last few months and I’m hoping that starting my class with Connie Hozvicka will inspire regular posts again. Off to a joy-filled beginning with the sequel to the course I took last Spring titled BIG. This one is called DEEP. To learn more, check out her Dirty Footprints Studio website. I love the first week’s theme – Begin as you wish to continue. Brilliant isn’t it? BEGIN AS YOU WISH TO CONTINUE. Take that in deeply, please, and imagine living by that guidance. Sweet isn’t it?
And to choose JOY as the theme – brilliant too.
Joy is a topic with which I am deeply familiar because it is closely linked to ecstasy, a topic I ponder frequently AND experience often because of the spiritual practice I teach: Ecstatic Wisdom Postures. See my other website.
Even so, Connie’s question of what makes joy challenging took me on a long meandering journey in my journal this morning. Joy, true joy, so different from happiness, is probably one of the most uncommon and uncomfortable sensations in our time and nation. True joy is to know the state of ecstasy, that divine connection with spirit, with that which is larger than ourselves and which our small rational minds and caged bodies can’t contain. Jungian psychologist, Robert Johnson, in his 1987 book, Ecstasy – Understanding the Psychology of Joy speaks to this eloquently:
I am sorry to say that we rarely stand outside ourselves these days. The world is too much with us. We are constantly working, thinking, planning, doing – what to eat, where to go, how to support our families, who to vote for. All the responsibility and power we burden ourselves with! We can’t bear it for very long without breaking down in some way. We need some relief from all that strength; to be for a moment in that timeless, spaceless, primal place which has no responsibility, which isn’t going anywhere. We need to stand outside ourselves and experience the flow of life…However, we cannot say what joy is. We must go the further step and discover its true nature for ourselves. When we can make peace with the Dionysian element we will begin to see the glow of ecstasy that enlivens every living thing. And, in the fiery glow of ecstasy, joy can be born within us. page 13/14 and 94.
So our challenge this first week is to paint from a place of experiencing joy and to do that accompanied by music. Joyful music, that is. Music that makes us want to dance and twirl and feel good about our lives, our world and ourselves.
I’m one who rarely listens to music – partly because music sings me internally. But I wanted to honor Connie’s instructions and see what would happen. I canvassed my CD collection and decided to start the painting with Abdoul Doumbia – a drummer extraordinaire from Mali. I slashed and splashed with a palette knife to the wild rhythms pouring over me. I was too immersed in the process to take a photo at the end of this stage but of course now I wish I had. Before the thick and textured paint dried, I wiped smearingly clean a rough seated rounded shape in the center. I knew I wanted to express visually how I feel when I’m experiencing bliss,which for me means a sensation of merging with everything. That is the deepest love and comfort I know. That sensation requires something womb-like, something that reflects the still-point of joy.
Musically, I chose Enya – one of her early CD’s that has accompanied me for more than a decade. Paint the Sky with Stars. The figure emerged quite easily and I fell in love early on.
As I gazed at the painting over the course of the remaining hours of my day, I saw things I wanted to tweak. I woke this morning ready to begin my day with those last details and chose The Best of Adiemus – Karl Jenkins the Journey to guide my being.
Here she is in her naked beauty. Blissed Out Joy.