They say it’s your birthright.
And they’re right.
Joy is not your birthright.
Joy is your very nature.
This is not your due.
This is WHO YOU ARE.
If this is the case…
Why do I feel anything but?
Why do I feel overwhelmed?
Why do I feel depressed?
Why do I feel anxious?
Why do I feel unfulfilled, agitated, unsettled?
If I AM JOY, why do I not FEEL joy?
Well, it’s simple really…
The answer has to do with concealment.
It works like this:
Imagine you had the most beautiful Monet painting.
And upon that painting you…
Splattered some black paint.
Added a swath or two of brown.
Dribbled some green.
Splotched some purple.
And smeared a blob of gray.
And on and on you went…
Until the original painting had been covered over.
Is the beauty of the Monet gone?
Of course not.
Can the beauty of the Monet be experienced?
Not a chance.
And so it goes with the beauty of the joy that you are.
It is alive and well.
It is perfect and peaceful.
It is waiting to be experienced.
Beneath all of the things that you do.
Beneath the layers of…
Yes, nearly everything we do
(including the things we do to experience joy)
prevents us from experiencing the joy that we crave.
But it’s not your fault.
You (and just about all of us) have been misled.
We’ve been taught that the formula for finding joy
(or happiness or fulfillment or satisfaction)
is through more, not less.
And so we paint…
We paint on a new relationship.
We paint on a new job.
We paint an island vacation.
We paint a snazzy new car.
We paint a triumph for our favorite social cause.
Layer after layer. We paint. Hoping that somehow…
That supreme and lasting joy and beauty will be revealed.
But through this kind of effort, it can never be.
In the same way that you can’t paint your way back to the beauty of the Monet.
And that every layer of paint only serves to cover it more completely…
You can’t struggle your way to the joy that you are.
Because every layer of struggle only serves to cover it more completely…
If you want to experience the beauty of the Monet,
you must REMOVE the concealing layers of paint.
If you want to experience the joy that you are,
you much REMOVE the concealing layers of distraction.
In yoga we have a term that points to this folly: Kosha.
Kosha translates as sheath or covering.
And the various koshas, the ancient masters teach,
are the parts of our experience that must be lifted
if we are to experience the joy and perfection THAT WE ARE.
This is the REAL gift that yoga can bestow.
Not to stretch.
Not to sweat.
Not to get that foot behind your cotton-pickin’ head.
But rather, to reveal the TRUTH…
of your innate happiness.
of your perfect peacefulness.
of your always already joyful nature.
Yoga gifts us with the wisdom to find our way home,
together with the tools we need to make the journey.
[The same gift, by the way, that all great religions and spiritual traditions seek to provide us]
So, in this season of joy,
I invite you to come home.
Rather than seeking joy through all of…
Take some time to…
Find some quiet.
Dip beneath the layers.
And come home to bask in the joy that you are. Now and forever more.
And from THERE…
Go out into the world.
Love your family.
Do your work.
Buy the things.
Teach the children.
Make the money.
Share your gifts.
And live your life.
This is how everything changes.
With so much ,
Eric Walrabenstein is a best-selling author, ordained Yogacharya, and nationally-renowned educator in the fields of yoga and mind-body wellness. His work focuses on helping people to practically apply the lesser-known aspects of yoga and mindfulness to solve some of the most urgent and immediate problems of our time.
He is the founder of Yoga Pura, one of Arizona’s largest yoga wellness centers, the creator of the BOOTSTRAP Yoga System developed for the U.S. military, and the creator of the BrightLife Method, a first-of-its-kind mind-body approach to help heal addictions of every kind. Eric's work has been widely featured in the media including on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Success magazine, Yoga Journal, and beyond.