“Don’t postpone joy until you have learned all your lessons. Joy is your lesson”–Allan Cohen.
I personally have hated folding laundry. It feels like a task made for Sisophys–the Greek God who pushed the boulder up the mountainside, only to have it fall back on him time and again. He never reached the top. For years, I have felt this way about the clean clothes. But, catching myself saying, “can’t wait till these buckets are folded, then I can relax” was a moment of awakening for me.
I realized I was postponing my joy in this small way, which led me to examine where else in my life I was postponing my joy. I saw little bits of postponement all over my life. So, I took the task in front of me–the dreaded laundry–and overrode my default intention (get it done and quick) with the conscious intention to feel joy while I folded laundry. At first, my mind bucked — “I’m no Steppford wife! I’m not going to pretend I like this when I hate the monotony of it!” I heard this mini-rant and then, almost like an experiment, I settled back into my conscious intention: what would it feel like if I sincerely intended to feel joy while I undertook this task of laundry? Keeping it real, I didn’t start clicking my heels in exuberance, or whistling like Snow White with the 7 dwarfs, but something in me shifted.
The task was the same, yet I had changed. I could actually see the clothes in front of me, maybe for the first time in a long time. I held onto a pink-striped shirt that now belonged to my youngest child, which once belonged to my middle child, and before that belonged to my oldest one. The clothes became a reminder not to take this moment for granted, because in a very short time, each of them will have outgrown all these clothes and eventually, each of them will have grown up and out of our family home. There is nothing quite as powerful as the larger perspective of truth that brings home the message that this moment is fleeting too.
There will always be more laundry to fold (unless you’re reading this naked, you’re creating laundry right now). There will always be someone else to email, another post to respond to, something else to buy. For some of us, it feels like there will always be another nose to wipe, another carpool to run, another lunch to make. And for many, it feels like there will always be another goal to attain, another status to achieve, and another milestone to put in our rearview mirror.
The thinking goes, once I complete my to-do list, or once I/they feel better, or we reach that financial goal, or go on vacation, then I can feel the relief, joy, and relaxation I crave. It’s as if we have a formula that says only after XYZ happens, then can we let ourselves chill. I wonder, how often have we unintentionally quashed our enthusiasm and passion because we are hyper-focused on getting-it-done or moving on to the next thing? The secret to lasting enthusiasm, passion and relaxation is to bring these very qualities to the undertaking of whatever is at hand.
In this life, we have choices–especially when it comes to our thoughts. It occurred to me that we actually have two minds. One mind is wise and knowing, the Soul-Mind. The other mind is the immature mind and has a lower vibration. The belief that the “we must wait till it’s completed in order to feel joy” is simply a trick produced by the immature mind. We can’t blame it, after all it was forged during our childhood when we believed that once we grew up, we’d have freedoms; once we completed school, we could relax; once we earned money, we’d feel accomplished; once we fell in love, we’d belong and feel cherished; once we had children, we’d meaningfully contribute, once we have XYZ, we could really start living. The immature mind thrives on keeping us one step away from our joy because that is all it knew. It doesn’t mean to steal your life away, but it just doesn’t know how else to exist.
We can choose to let the immature mind run the show. Or we can allow that to drop into the background and amp up the volume of the Soul-Mind.
The Soul-Mind is your witness, it is imbued with Supreme essence, and is steeped in some serious wisdom. It knows. It is that part of you that says, “Be Still, and Know”. In listening more attentively to the Soul-Mind, we are then positioned to accomplish the simple and not-so-simple work of our lives with greater moments of awareness and awe, as well as passion and relaxed joy. And these moments, when culled together, deepen our purpose, vibrancy and love, not only for ourselves but for our families and for this precious world.
The way to disarm the immature mind is to first, recognize it when it shows up. You can call it the immature mind or the lower-vibe mind or some other name to represent it. Next, use your Soul-Mind, the more powerful part of you, to set an intention. In setting a soul-filled intention, we allow in our own playfulness, and release the internal resistance that keeps us from surrendering to the present moment.