By Dr. Roxanne Daleo
Have you ever noticed the way a humming bird darts from one flower to the next, barely staying long enough for you to observe this little creature? Seems the humming
bird has mastered the art of “kissing joy”; it is the practice of the light touch. Touching
but not holding on or lingering on the sweetness or the non-sweetness of life as it navigates it’s world.
In my work helping anxious children help themselves calm down, I find it is their perception of the event in their lives that causes most distress. They are not realizing they are the ones who assign meaning to all events. Here’s an example: Katie explains, “this bad thing happened at school— everyone keeps looking at me and saying I look sad, am I ok?”
The essential ingredient for tapping into our inner resources is to understand we always have a choice about how we label the events. Our own mind can heal or hurt us; awareness is the path in to manage our ocean of emotion. Awareness is being present without labeling, criticizing, or judging.
The most common reaction to the good things that happen in life is to try to hold on, hold on tighter, making every effort to have that good stay and to wall out the bad stuff.
Try as we may, we don’t want anything bad to happen to us.; whatever “bad” is! And- if that bad thing does happen, we’ll say: ”This is a very bad, horrible, terrible thing!”
Rather than, suspending judgement and saying to yourself: “This is interesting…could be bad, could be good.”
In the teaching tale, Zen Shorts: The Farmer’s Luck, the story reveals the assumptions of what the neighbors call “bad luck” or “good luck” turns out to be the opposite. Through various experiences, the farmer resists the temptation to agree with his neighbors’ opinions. For example, his son falls off a horse and breaks his leg, everyone says, that’s too bad, bad luck! But, in fact, a few days later when the soldiers come to their village to take able-bodied young men off to war, his son is passed over because he has a broken leg!
Can we be both present to the experiences of our lives while, at the same time, being non-judgmental, accepting and curious?
Can we learn to see them, be with the experience without trying to push it away? Can we allow ourselves to feel difficult feelings, rest in it and be?
And if it is a happy, welcomed event, can you learn that ”kissing joy” as she flies by is a wonderful way to play with your imagination, tapping your inner resources in order to be present, notice, enjoy it but not become attached to it? Kiss it and let it go.
And then can you practice, with this same awareness, to be present, to notice when something seems awful? Watching your feelings of sadness without getting lost in them?
Like gathering, collecting all life experiences, noticing the contrast like the many shades of green in the early Springtime?
Say to yourself: “As I use all my senses to take note and savor, I am present and open to all the feelings in my life.”
The practice of “kissing joy” is an opportunity to become aware of how you can direct your mind to focus- without judging, without making a strong, negative opinion; but rather, just noticing and collecting.
Making a collecting basket, is a tangible way to practice this idea and internalize it for yourself and your child. Say to yourself, “Today, as I am filling my basket with the little things in life— good or bad, happy or sad. I am noticing and collecting with awareness, gentleness and gratitude.”
So fill your basket, as you expand your awareness. Say to yourself; “ I’m feeling the warm breeze on my face or
I’m hearing a song that makes me cry” …
Imagine putting it all in your basket for the day.
Throughout your day, you may want to place in your basket objects like a special photograph or the penny you found on the ground.
At the end of your day, the contents can be taken out and reflected upon as a form of awareness practice. Be gentle with yourself.
Then you can begin all over again the next day. Empty out the contents; let go of the previous day to make room for the new, the now, of today.
As in the ancient mediative tradition, keep your basket empty. When you do, it becomes a practice of taking in, breathing, watching, and recognizing the every day passing events–like ”kissing joy” lightly, not tightly!
As joy flies by as you’re on your way
Give it a kiss and go on with your day.
Embrace the fullness of all that you feel
Welcoming everything-keep even your keel!
Wisdom runs deepest, your open heart knows
To gather the highs, as well as the lows
“Kissing joy” instead of holding too tight
Offers the lesson: there’s no wrong, no right.