Did you ever open the garden shed without a task in mind, just to go and be in the garden, to see what happens? Did you ever go to the market or grocery store, just to be there and explore food, without a shopping list? Did you ever go to work (the office, your studio, place of work, computer, inbox, etc) without a task or project in mind, for the sheer joy of being in the environment of work?

I feel that I’m accidentally in a period of deep and extensive joy in my life. The word joy gained new meaning in my past year, as I gained self-awareness. I searched – deliberately – for a more loving and playful, a less angry version of myself.

My gaze softens. My spine lengthens and relaxes. Blood flows into my shoulders. I lose the sense of tension in my jaw. My fingertips so relaxed that they are barely an extension of my arms, almost detached, and I realize the upper arms have a similar sensation, as if the flesh could fall from the bone. This is me, practicing awareness of my physical being. I find that awareness shifts my mindset in ways that I prefer.

Mental clarity, like a deep crystal lake in a mountain forest: untouched, unwavering. Perhaps imagined to be cold, but in fact, warm and energizing. So warm that my body feels cocooned in its own strength. I’m naked and protected. I am alive, energized, and in a state of rest.

Resting readiness. Meaning without movement. Stillness and silence sustain. Sustenance from stationary. Stay and sustain? Move and maintain? Move and grow? Stay and grow? The social and internal pressure to always move “up and to the right,” as Jerry Colonna calls it. I am alive. I thrive without attaching myself to spending, gaining, moving, or changing. Emotions arise naturally, without force, but sometimes creating new forces. I am where I am.

One year ago, I finished reading The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership and immersed myself in training in Boulder, cradled between the hills, ridges, and my own desire for self-… self-… self-actualization? My gaze fixated on Leadership Camp, to gain what I perceived my colleagues gained (or perhaps lose what they lost), to more wholly understand consciousness, to be more authentically me. I recognize now that I showed up forcefully, with expectations and with a partially-closed mindset.

A camera paints a picture in two dimensions. An open window or door invites me to enter a world in 3D, to explore. My own study of consciousness rapidly gained fourth and fifth dimensions, as the feelings became real: noticed, sensed, verbalized, catalyzed, and transformed.

Six months later, the foothills softened into rolling farmland on the coast of Portugal. Matt Corker showed me joy that initially triggered jealousy. My fear of his joy transformed to authentic inspiration, and when I was back to my inbox a few weeks later, I copied Matt, signing many emails “in joy”. A simple signal of when I felt joy, and only written in moments when joy felt real: in-joy-ments, as I like to call them now.

I struggle to believe joy is not the ultimate and most desirable of the five emotions. I feel most comfortable when I feel joy, but I also put myself in a lot of situations that invite anger and fear. I recognise these moments differently now. All of the emotions merit awareness, and sometimes recognition triggers a shift. I conditioned myself to avoid sadness in my adolescence, but I gratefully went deep recently, reflecting on a close friend moving away. I cried, stayed with the sadness, and eventually my feelings shifted.

Did you ever exhale without caring about the next inhale? Did you ever feel sadness without pushing it away, in favor of another feeling? Did you ever feel joy without holding on to it, in disfavor of other emotions? Did you ever let go of your own idea and let the world offer you something new?

in joy –
– Stephen

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