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Is my contentment... joy?

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Day 9 reflections:

As part of the mindfulness challenge, I reflected on how I felt before and after yoga class.  Before, I felt pretty tense in my neck and slightly annoyed that I keep re-injuring my neck in my sleep - it's been so hot that I didn't sleep with a neck collar one night, and, now I'm paying for it.  

At today's Forrest yoga class, I spent a lot of time breathing in and out of twisting poses that challenged me while allowing my neck release.  At the end of class, my teacher, as usual, asked us to observe if there were a shift from the beginning of class to now, and to be grateful that we were able to make that shift.  I felt content (as I usually do) and light.  So light to the point of absent-mindedness - when I got home, I didn't even remember if I picked up my house keys at the studio after class (I did).

Then I remembered something I read earlier this week from "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown (read in parallel with Candace's recent gratitude post and KristiSmithYoga's advice #2 - the universe keeps telling me how important gratitude is!)

  1. People were quick to point out the differences between happiness and joy as the difference between a human emotion that’s connected to circumstances and a spiritual way of engaging with the world that’s connected to practicing gratitude.

  2. [...] They say [joy's] opposite is not sadness, but fear.

I've been wanting to escape and feeling disconnected for awhile, even though I know I have a "sunny disposition" and all my friends describe me as "super happy".  I can easily point out funny or cute things and laugh about it with others - that's all externally based on circumstances. When I read the above, I thought joy had to be a state of exuberance or even enlightenment due to the spiritual aspect, but now I see it's just the opposite of fear.  When I'm content, that lightness I feel is because I have no worries going through my head - I never connected that until today.

I've been struggling to cultivate my own sense of self-worth. I have equated making others happy with my own happiness for a long time, and wondered why my happiness isn't always enough. Now I understand my yoga practice is a constant cultivation of gratitude that leads to me feeling content, and that is my joy.



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