February 26, 2013

Map of Self-Exploration

Sometimes I need grounding--a break from the busyness to anchor on my breath. Last week I noticed the mental energy I spend in the past and the future, which inevitably leads to fear and anxiety. But when I come back to the present moment, the fear is manageable and often dissipates. My mantra for last week: in this particular moment, I am really okay. Even with uncertainty about the future and anxiety about the past, if I slow down to notice the moment I'm in, I know I'm all right. There's no emergency, no urgency, no impending threat. It's just me and my breath. And it's all okay. The most important pieces of this process are the noticing and pausing. (And the willingness to start over again and again.)

Just as I need grounding, I also need to look up:

Too much time spent searching for ground (read: certainty) or keeping eyes on the pavement leads to a distorted view of self, others, and the world. My spirit is recharged when I deeply connect with others, including myself. This means looking people (and myself) in the eyes, hearing difficult stories, sharing my own truths, opening my heart, staying with the moment, and--when appropriate--lightening the mood with laughter and silliness. It's taken me years to be comfortable having the difficult conversations; but through the process I've strengthened my relationships. And I feel more at home.

What can be most challenging is looking deeply inside ourselves. We encounter dark places and pieces of ourselves that we don't particularly like. We feel the painful emotions (e.g., shame, sadness, grief, loneliness) that we've spent years trying to avoid. And our avoidance habits are well-grooved. For me, I watch movies, busy myself, plan, make lists--anything to avoid just sitting with myself. And that's precisely when I know I must sit. Because sitting with myself is the only way through the pain. Via the dance of avoidance and self-exploration, I've slowly learned to know myself, trust myself, and actually see my beauty. Because it's not just darkness we encounter when we look inward; we also see the special, beautiful light that shines inside us. Each light unique and extraordinary.


  1. You make me so happy, Joy! Thank you for your words. I practice hoopdancing and I just attended a hoopdance workshop over the weekend. We were practicing orbiting our hoops around our center at an "earth" angle for some grounding work. Then we transitioned to a "sky" angle orbit. We are of the earth and sky. Focusing awareness on both types of energy is essential to a balanced life. I love the pictures of your eyes. We also worked on moving about the room and looking others in the eyes while hooping for an opportunity to connect with our community. This was a nice change from all the inner work we were doing by focusing on how to move individually and expressively within the hoop. Your post reinforced much of what we learned in the hoop - thank you!

    1. thank you for this thoughtful comment. how interesting that these life lessons come through in hoopdance. i notice the same with photography. perhaps all creativity leads us down the path of self-exploration.