Where have all the joy bubbles gone?

Joy Bubbles, redux

Some time ago, I wrote a post about joy bubbles – small moments of wonder and appreciation at the most mundane, and yet wonderful, things.  I have since learned that this isn’t a unique experience, that the sanskrit word for this is camatkāra – “a quiet joy and wonder in relation to any experience whatsoever”* be it beautiful or ugly or compassionate or heartbreaking – and that, in the tantrik philosophy that resonates deeply with me, this experience is the highest nature of awareness or consciousness.  And in learning all of this, I have also come to realize that somewhere in the last year or so, I’ve stopped experiencing joy bubbles.

During the last few months, I’ve lost my ability to be still.  I start in the morning and hardly sit down, until I’m ready to be done in the evening.  Even when I’m exhausted and could use a break, I clean this, or research that, or do anything to avoid being still.  It has reached such a degree of intensity that I sort of wonder at myself about why I can’t just sit down for a minute.  In a phone conversation tonight with a dear friend, she asked me what I was avoiding.  The answer was immediate in my head, though I didn’t want to admit it out loud: fear around my sense of security (yes, still… will it ever end?).  I’ve been grasping at whatever is next in my future, in order to avoid being present with what feels insecure in my now.

For a few weeks, I’ve had an increasingly strong intuition that I need to be still for longer than my morning sit, to spend some time in deeper reflection than I have allowed myself to recently undertake, to do some work to re-quiet my monkey-chatter mind.  But December is apparently a crazy busy month in the massage world, and my schedule reflects that.  Where to find the time?

The universe is an amazing thing/place/experience.  Somehow, it always gives me what I need, even though I still don’t know how to trust that.  Through a scheduling screw-up on my part, which caused no significant negative impact to anyone beyond my own bruised ego, I ended up with nearly an entire day of no appointments or obligations.   A whole day! to spend focused on becoming still, on being, on noticing, on feeding a sense of trust in place of a sense of fear.  I was (am) quite excited to have this space open up.  But I wasn’t quite sure how best to make use of it, until tonight’s conversation:  There is internal work to do, to soothe the part of me that is scared and grasping forward and willfully busy, and feed the part of me that simply is, the part of me that can experience brief moments of camatkāra, of joy bubbles.

The joy bubbles haven’t gone anywhere – each moment is another opportunity.  But I have stopped noticing, because I have stopped being present.  Just like meditation, presence is a practice, and tomorrow I will pick it up and start again.


*from The Recognition Sutras, by Christopher Wallis, a slightly scholarly but very accessible translation and explanation of an ancient tantrik philosophy text.

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