I’ve been reflecting on the crucial, powerful mystery of joy lately.

These are such difficult times, I know joy might feel impossible, frivolous, or inappropriate. But I believe joy is an essential ingredient for cultivating healing and transformation.

Joy is happiness for no reason. We are happy when positive things happen in our lives: birthday cake, reuniting with family, beholding beauty. The opposite is often also true, when things are profoundly challenging happiness can feel so far away.

Joy is big happiness that is completely unattached to the idea that things are “good” or “bad.” The Dalai Lama and the late Desmond Tutu are shining examples of people with joy. When I learned about the atrocities that happened in both their lives on one level I was surprised because I didn’t expect someone could be that joyful with those life experiences.

Happiness for no reason means being joyful despite all the suffering around us. There is no reason to make us joyful. There is no reason NOT to make us joyful. Joy is beyond reason.

In Spring Forest Qigong we intentionally draw upon the vibration of the emotion of joy to balance our heart. Drawing upon joyful memories, even pretending we feel joyful, are so powerful for resetting ourselves. Joy, as it nourishes the heart, is what activates our healing power.

What’s more, joy is what nourishes and prepares the ground for peace. This phenomenon is based in the flow of yin and yang (more explanation in the Qi Activation Training). Your life experience probably affirms this beautiful flow; after those profoundly joyful moments in your life, didn’t you feel more at peace, more trusting that everything is okay and you are supported with all that you need?

Here’s what this means: if we are going to create peace right now – which we desperately need – we must include joy. Joy is perhaps one of the quickest routes to create peace.

While my understanding of joy is influenced by the science of qigong, creating peace and harmony among people through collective joy – dance! – is an ancient practice from around the world.

The collective joy of dance is my primary teacher. Joining hands and dancing in a circle, being filled with music, movement, and connection never ceases to fill me with joy no matter what my state when I began. So many times my students remark that they nearly didn’t come to class because they were too tired, too worn out by the world, but by the end of class they feel filled with joy. What a precious gift!

It is amazing how joining hands and dancing together creates peace with each other. When I join a new circle of dancers there is usually a few people that I don’t feel are “my type,” that might rub me the wrong way. But dancing with them in a circle, I find myself harmonizing with them. As one student once said “you just can’t hate someone you are dancing with” and it’s so true. Dance has kept the peace in so many villages through time.

I have so many stories of people experiencing healing from dancing. Aches and pains in the body are soothed. Emotions shift. The healing is from the collective joy.

You need joy in your life. It is not something you can cut because times are hard. You need joy to help you through. It is essential for healing and peace. I invite you to make yourself available to it.

With joy,

Make Collective Joy Part of Your Week

Experience the healing power of traditional dances from the Balkans, Greece, and Asia Minor, a practice grounded in the research and teachings of Laura Shannon. Or join me in cultivating Qi Joy, with Healing Waters Qigong, Spring Forest Qigong practice group. Both groups open to drop-ins any week!

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