The song played again and again as images floated through my mind. Images of a woman flying, soaring above the mountains, nature swimming around her. Perhaps my Disney childhood was playing a role, as it seemed to bear a striking resemblance to my mental images of Pocahontas. After letting my imaginings play, I replaced the image of the dark haired woman in my mind’s eye with an image of myself.
“I cheated,” I commented to the music therapist who was facilitating this guided imagery in music experience.
She reflected back that placing myself into those images was not cheating. She encouraged me to continue with that image, of me, floating, soaring, landing atop a precipice. Suddenly I had imaginings of my heart opening, light shining through.
The therapist commented that my experience seemed to carry a lot of joy.
I hadn’t ever thought about the power of joy. When I returned from the mountain, I knew I had a sense of empowerment, a sense that I could overcome doubts. I hadn’t realized how interlaced the presence of joy was in my journey. I hadn’t realized that the joy I discovered there had helped me carry my spirit up that mountain. I hadn’t realized that the joy that had nestled itself within me was letting me experience life in this rich way. In the months since I had returned, it seemed the joy had slowly seeped away. It took me, in a small office in midtown, listening to a meaningful song on my ipod on repeat, letting my mind explore, and having a music therapist reflect it back to me to realize that puzzle piece I had never noticed. Joy.
Recently, as I have been thinking about ways to reconnect to my strongest self, I decided to try a meditation group. Meditation is something I have tinkered with in the past (does one tinker with meditation? Somehow that doesn’t seem to capture it), but have never tried in a group context. The leader spoke about letting thoughts come and go, without tying them to ourselves. He challenged us in our work to remove the “I” from our statements. We began.
As I sat there cross legged, I noticed the ache in my aging knee. “There is pain,” my mind registered. I noticed the tingling in my foot as it fell asleep. “There are tingles.” I noticed the movement of air around me. “There is a breeze.” I continued on this path, simply stating, not connecting thoughts to myself- freedom from attachment, as the Buddhists would say- until I landed here: “There is joy. There is joy, there is joy, there is joy…”
Tears began to fall down my face as I remembered moments on the mountain, friends in my life, times I felt loved. All of these moments are parts of my story. We decide how we hear our stories. We can call upon the disappointment, the doubt, the negative voices in our heads that discourage us from moving on. Or we can find that part of ourselves that lifts us. We can call upon the joy.
There is joy. There is joy, there is joy, there is joy….