Last week I wrote about joy and how it is an aspect of being, your birthright. But, for those of us who are currently facing major challenges and for the many among us who have suffered irreversible trauma (from getting lost in the mall to years of living in a war zone), real and lasting joy may seem absolutely impossible.
I know. I know because that's how my life was and that's how I used to think and feel.
Growing up in Israel under the constant threat of attack had wired my brain towards fear, uncertainty, and the agonizing and ceaseless "what if?". And that's exactly it, isn't it? It was precisely my brain that repeatedly produced the thought that joy was unattainable. In turn, this gave rise to feelings of sadness, depression, and hopelessness. The crucial question is then, how do you change a lifetime of thinking a certain way? Is rewiring the brain even doable?
The latest research on neuroplasticity (simply put, the brain's ability to keep changing throughout our lives) answers back with a resounding "yes!". Lisa Wimberger, author of Neurosculpting: A Whole-Brain Approach to Heal Trauma, Rewrite Limiting Beliefs, and Find Wholeness, unequivocally affirms that we can strengthen the thoughts that signal enjoyment and completely reframe our fear-based experiences. Now this is very good news.
What it means is that no matter what your life has been like and no matter which pathways have already formed in your brain, a vast potential for change is present. This means that healing is possible. Repair is possible. Rewiring the brain is possible. And joy? Joy is very possible, too.
Years ago, when I constantly felt lost and distraught, my heart somehow knew that joy was possible. Despite the thoughts in my head, my heart knew. And, it guided me.
Interestingly enough, my heart guided me to ancient methods that incorporate the very same techniques that brain researchers today are pointing out as key strategies for changing old habits, supporting new neurological connections, resolving trauma, and priming the body/mind for experiences of well-being, safe play, fun, and joy.
It will come as no surprise to many of you who have been down this path that the primary tool for repairing back to a sense of wholeness is the practice of awareness, i.e. self-inquiry, self-reflection, and meditation. (Read the rest here)
According to the latest research, effective brain-change and rewiring for joy is supported by activities that shift attention from right to left brain hemispheres, and vise versa (like writing with your less dominant hand or alternate-nostril breathing) in addition to intentional experiences of awe and wonder, curiosity and novelty, humor and play, as well as compassion and conscious tending to yourself.
Insert deep breath here.
Impressively, the ancient "brain researchers," known as yogis/yoginis and early Chinese medicine scholars, had identified these exact tools and integrated them seamlessly into the practices we now know of as Yoga Nidra Meditation and Acupressure/Acupuncture.
The list below is but a sampling of these tools found in iRest® Yoga Nidra as well as Acupressure in the style of Soul Lightening® that rewire our brains for joy:
This is how I came about healing the patterns of fear, limitation, and joylessness in me. And I can tell you from experience that the process is a whole lot quicker, easier, less painful, and effective when you have a team of trusted practitioners to support you as well as the safe, compassionate, and reaffirming company of others. And all it really takes is a determination to heal.
If you're finding yourself at a place in life where you wish to open the door wide for healing and resolution, for experiencing your wholeness and feeling joy, I invite you to call me for a free consultation, learn more about and schedule an acupressure session, join me for the Women's Meditation Circle, and/or attend a Yoga Nidra session live or via a recording. These are proven methods for healing, and they undoubtedly ease the access to your very own inherent joyness.
I'm humbled and honored to partner along with you on this journey.
May you always find the way to rest into the joy that you are,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
Please share your experience, insights, questions, and thoughts below.
Shira Oz-Sinai is a spiritual teacher trained in iRest® Yoga Nidra meditation and Soul Lightening Acupressure®, two modalities that share the common principle of noticing what arises in awareness as the foundation to living life with ease and in deep and loving friendship with yourself. These are her musings.