A couple of nights ago I dreamed I was at a party or festival of some sort. And there were all kinds of pastries and desserts. They were creamy and pretty and all looked delicious. And I ate them. And they were delicious. And every time I ate one, more kept appearing and I never got full so I could keep on eating them. And I didn’t feel guilty or think it was unhealthy or that I might get fat. I completely enjoyed every bite.
That night, before going to sleep, I listened to a yoga nidra meditation. In this particular meditation, you are asked to find where happiness resides in your body, think of something that makes you happy go to that place on your body and feel it. Then do the same with sadness. Then, with each breath you take you move from feeling happy to feeling sad. So breathe in, breathe out feel happy, breathe in breathe out, feel sad.
In that very short amount of time, with each breath, you experience opposite emotions.
Usually when I dream about food, I never get to eat it. But when I woke up from my dream, I was feeling pretty good, having eaten all those delicious desserts. Then as I lay there, my mood started to descend. I could feel the anxiety rising, not about anything specific, just a general anxiety.
And I think it’s because of my recent understanding of how the events in our lives are filled with a mix of emotions and because of the yoga nidra meditation that I was aware that I was, at the same time, feeling the joy from my dream and anxiety.
And then I did something I never consciously did before, I acknowledged the two emotions, and I chose to be happy.
And then I acted on it.
Instead of lying in bed and feeding my anxiety, I reached over to Jon and tickled him. And he started laughing. So I tickled him some more and then I started laughing. Then Fate jumped on the bed and she started licking Jon’s face and joining in the fun. I don’t think I ever heard Jon laugh as long and hard. And that made me only laugh more.
By the time we got out of bed my anxiety was a whisper, a ghost from the past. It had completely lost its grip on me.
The idea that happiness is a choice is not new to me. But actually experiencing making that choice is.
And I’m not saying this is about being happy all the time. There’s enough pain, sadness and suffering in the world and in each of our individual lives to be unhappy 24 hours a day. And there are times when we will be overwhelmed by pain and suffering and there is nothing to do but cry.
But there are also times to be happy and to experience the joy of life in its fullest.
What I’m saying is, I think all of our emotions live inside of us at the same time. Even when our despair or joy is at its greatest, the other, even if it’s dormant, is still there inside of us.
I don’t know if it’s true, but the idea gives me hope. That if we are aware, we can access the feelings we need to help us live our lives to the fullest. Because it’s no better to be pretending to be happy when we really need to be grieving than it is to never be able to feel joy.
Last night I had a dream that our sheep gave birth to three black lambs. They immediately got up and started prancing around the pasture, doing what lambs do. I think in some ways, animals have it easier than we do. They get to feel what they feel without their brains getting in the way.