Wired for Joy

I am currently reading Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life, by Frances Mayes, best known for her previous work, Under the Tuscan Sun.

I have delighted in reading every one of Mayes' books - because her prose is exquisite and it is informed and shaped by her life as a poet. I find myself underlining sentences for their sheer beauty, and I deeply enjoy doing so.

Here is someone who embodies a life lived in joy. That is not to say she has not experienced her own trials in life. Who hasn't? Still, she has created a life for herself that perhaps many of us only dream of...

I also recently came across another book, Wired for Joy. The title of this book intrigued me, because I have heard similar things before. For someone who struggles with depression, it may seem hard to imagine that this can be possible. Yet the book asserts that one can train the mind to move from stress to joy by focusing on re-wiring the emotional brain, rather than the thinking brain...

"There is a universal body posture that is a sign of positive emotions, usually with shoulders back, head up, perhaps even a smile on the face...Those specific body patterns draw upon a sensory modality, proprioception, which provides feedback to the brain on the status of the body. Each time you arrange your body in that posture, the brain interprets these signals as confirmation that you are in joy. Even if your mood is negative, shifting your body informs the brain that you are in joy."

Readers of this blog may recall that I have often quoted how ancient Egyptians were asked two questions to ascertain if they were worthy of the afterlife:

"Did you find joy? Did you bring joy."

It sounds so simple - and yet it is also so elusive at times...

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, the neuro-anatomist who is the author of My Stroke of Insight, documents, how during her own stroke, she came into a state of sheer bliss, that she realized was only a mere thought away. Yet, I wonder why is this easier for some to recognize and embody than it is for others? Why do some come into the world better equipped to make lemonade out of lemons?

As an Anusara Yoga teacher and practitioner, I know that the First Universal Principle of Alignment - "Opening to Grace," and engaging a good "shoulder loop" can open the door to transformation in mind, body, and soul. Certainly, poses such as Virabhadrasana 1, or Anjaneyasana - both beautiful and delicious back bends - can enable us to open the back doors of our hearts - so that we can more deeply receive and consequently embody a purely joyous state of being.

What a wonderful thought to consider - that we are wired for joy - and thus ultimately wired for ecstasy! This realization is very much supported and acknowledged by the Siva-Shakti Tantra roots of the yoga lineage that I practice and teach. This has been taught for centuries by many yogic sages who already knew this, and perhaps have been patiently waiting for us to re-discover it once again...


Anonymous said…
Hi Olga
I enjoy your blog. Interestingly. I wrote about happiness on my blog this morning too. Keep up the good writing and interesting subjects!

Olga Rasmussen said…
Thanks Alex! I loved your own blog entry on the topic of happiness. Blessings, Olga

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