Earlier this year, the phrase conscious happiness was given to me in a recurring dream. (When I practice imaginative meditation, I tend to receive these whispers of wisdom in my sleep too). I was puzzled for a while, as the word happiness isn’t always one that I can easily embrace.
With time, I began to realise that was the point.
Through a growth process I’ve experienced since that dream, I’ve been shown an old pattern of suppressing joy; an understanding that the energies of both anger and joy were considered ‘too much’ in my childhood environment. (It’s not unusual to receive the message that we are allowed to feel happy, but not too much.)
So I can get a bit squirmy around the idea of joy, because – like anger – it is a very powerful energy. My habitual response to these strong, wild feelings has often been to use shame to suppress them. Part of my recent process was an energetic shift that removed that layer of shaming myself, so that it no longer keeps the deeper, more primal energies frozen beneath the surface.
Through befriending the energy of anger – an inner fire whose job is protective – the door has also been opened to allow the energy of joy to flow more freely. Starting with welcoming it (back) in.
When I was offered that phrase conscious happiness, it felt like a nudge to take mindful living beyond the (important) work of finding freedom from stress, and expand into living this as my guiding question: ‘what would feed the energy of joy?’
Conscious happiness, I’m always learning, can be a choice.
It’s choosing to jump off the distress cycle when I get triggered, and into the opportunity for growth.
It’s choosing to welcome all of my emotional energies, not suppress them and deplete myself.
It’s choosing to channel strong inner energy into that which is life-enhancing.
It’s choosing to give thanks, constantly, for the sources of joy in my daily life (not least my family), and for the elemental energies that support my physical existence.
It’s choosing to allow joy to bubble up and ripple out – because that is potentially healing for those around me, aswell as myself.
It’s choosing to put my energy where it can be most helpful.
There are many energies in the world I may wish to change. And that can be frustrating and exhausting. By practising conscious happiness, I can free up more of my own healthy energy to feed into the whole.
I doubt this is an original idea, but it’s my own understanding of a core teaching that I’m sure is shared in various traditions.
As we approach the Autumn Equinox, (also known as the late summer harvest), I’m reminded to appreciate the fruits of the deep practice I’ve been cultivating, and to trust that I will take this harvest with me into the months of darkness.