Note: Originally I wanted to title this post, "joy as a radical act".
We need each other in order to express and be seen in that which we are expressing. Coming out of a long slumber of intentionally limiting my thoughts and words and unwilling to display my written form for public consumption and perception, I thank all the other artists and creatives who had the courage to keep going. Who continued to inspire with their flow, unafraid of showing up as they are. And, with that gesture, helping me regain access to my deeper voice, temporarily in protection mode. Simply doing what they knew to do best and me sitting there waiting for it to flow again.
This is vital. Necessary for the collective moving forward. The Pause. To take rest. And knowing that someone out there is doing the work with no pressure of having to produce. In a way finding joy in letting things simply be. I am a grand cheerleader of joy. Having had my own relationship with toxic positivity and spiritual bypassing, I am not speaking to this type that depletes, rather the joy that nourishes and replenishes and is indestructible. And, within you, always residing in that sweet corner of the heart waiting to be tapped into again, patiently.
A day or two after the Monterey Park shooting, I came upon Chanel Miller, author and fellow human who posted a thread on Instagram which spoke so precisely on carrying joy and sorrow, opposite realities which as humans we have the affinity of wanting one to last forever, while the other we do everything to reject, ignore or deny. To be able to become a container to carry it all, because it all belongs, is a spiritual path worth considering.
Every time a new group arrives to the Pür Joy space, I like to begin with the origin story. Of why we are here. No, not that origin story. Why Pür Joy even came to be and how it all started. If you have not had the chance to hear it, here it goes. I'll keep it short.
Famous last words.
In June of 2019, I got invited to go to India for the International Day of Yoga celebrations by the Ministry of Tourism. This was after one full academic year of teaching at a local middle school. In September of 2018, I thought at the time, I had made a firm decision of putting my yoga teaching to sleep and getting back to educating the middle schoolers again, a more secure way of earning a livelihood and in what I was trained in, etc. It felt easier and secure. I got in and did the thing. It was cute, but summer of 2019, life had other plans.
So, end of my academic teaching year, that is June, India called. Quite literally. I was flown out to be a part of this experience and got to be in the subcontinent that summer. I returned back to LA in August. Quit my day job, again. Yes, with no plan, but trusted again. Slowly letting myself fall back on the cushion that is my community, I went on a hike one morning with some queer Armenian friends and I simply posed the question, "hey would you all attend a session in my apartment if I were to host some sessions on joy?" I mean I had no idea and neither did the folks on that hike, but they all said Yes. My intention was to come together as one and sit around and philosophize and have fun.
Joy Is A Radical Act was born a few days after I met with the head of school and told her that I will not be continuing my teaching contract for year two. We started meeting in the very living room that I am putting these thoughts on [digital] paper. And what came out of these sessions were connection, meditations, belonging, love, joy, pondering, being heard, seen, loved and lots of snacks and tea. For about seven months I got to have friends and strangers come in and out of my sacred living space on Monday nights. Mindfulness Mondays it was called. Mindfulness was catchy! Mondays were not. Coming together on Monday nights though was really the highlight of my week.
Then, brief pause. February 2020 I took a group to Hawaii for retreat. They left. I stayed. Paradise. Pandemic. Lockdowns, Black Lives Matter, The 44 Day War in Armenia, trauma and healing. Hell. I was there as witnessing and holding space. Doing psychological first aid at shelters, holding sessions and whatever the day brought during those two difficult months. When I returned in December 2020 from Armenia after the war to figure out life again, it all seemed changed forever. Life as I knew it had shifted and so had I. Reality. Living with realities, extreme realities. And, Chanel has put it so beautifully up there and I'd like to repeat her line, "I want the world to stop, to acknowledge that a hole has been blown in the universe." To paradise and hell and back. And, then came the pause and incubation. I reached out to my teacher and slowly began to come back into my body again with his help. With Tias Little, completing my somatic training and then the inspiration to be present again, Pür Joy was born.
This version of the story, I keep telling in person, because it is clear that there's a part of me that needs to be heard in this way as long as necessary for the communal healing to take its organic course. To be in a room and experience this form of energy exchange and love as a facilitator and host is oddly inexplicable and to get to the root of it all, the origin, is where the work begins. Healing the root. Healing, until the story (or trauma) becomes a memory still residing in the body and a grander vessel is able to carry it all. Because, all things belong. Our magnanimous heart is so capable of carrying that and all.
Long story short, if you've reached this far. Joy is a Radical Act is back! Time to explore the deep crevices of the heart, in person. Now that the space has been build and there is room for creativity again, I look forward to offering teachings that flow naturally. Come to these sessions as you are. You have everything you need. A human birthright joy, is within us all and to choose it is a radical act. Nothing is expected of you, Simply being there is enough. We meet on the 5th of February. In Los Feliz. In our humble abode, no longer in my living room, but like a living room. This is your time and space to invite more joy.
May our paths cross in whatever form. Chanel, girl, thank you! And, all the writers before her and I, thank you. All who've paved the way. Just here trying to put two and two together to make four.