Toxic positivity is a negative relationship with negativity
The key to true positivity is a grounded, balanced positivity. Neither rejecting negativity outright nor wallowing in it, but respecting its place in this world of duality.
For example, when I used to start feeling depressed I would down a bottle of cabernet, light up the black candles (literally), set Leonard Cohen or Nine Inch Nails on repeat, sleep until noon, and turn my general corner of the neighborhood into a shadow realm of sorrow for days...
Naturally, that didn't feel so great and it took a considerable toll on my health, so I eventually gave it up for some sunny positivity--
Instead, I would put on some upbeat flamenco music, burn a ton of white sage, and blast everything with reiki while chanting some positive affirmations. Well, that certainly seems nicer and healthier, but it was also obsessive, controlling, and based in fear: fear of falling back into that old shadow... and it also wasn't lasting without constant repetition and upkeep, which made it start to feel inauthentic and ineffective...
Now, I'm finally much more (but not perfectly) centered. My general outlook is that positivity is a long-term movement with daily fluctuations, and so I worry less about the transient presence of negativity. When I feel down, I'm more likely to go ahead and honor it by listening to a few songs by Coldplay. Maybe I'll sit down and take a 15 minute break on the couch with some tea and a deep mood. Then I'll eat something sweet and get doing something productive but easy like washing the dishes, organizing my desk, bringing in some firewood,... and I'm back in the long-term movements of positivity.
Of course if something truly terrible happens, I will be broken for a longer period of time and just have to deal with it as best I can. But as an example of daily life, it really can work something like this... even for someone like me who leans towards depression (but without being clinically diagnosed as such).
It's about finding all the small, practical ways to take back some conscious control from our natural negative-bias (which has probably been amplified by our social and lifestyle environments) so we can make more balanced choices and develop more balanced mental habits. And this is not an "always look on the bright side of life" kind of thing... It's a clear-eyed acknowledgement of the functional place of negativity in our lives combined with the rich enjoyment of pleasurable moments and harnessing the motive power of positivity to take actions that can lead to more successes in this challenging world.
For some of you this may be a simple adjustment in lifestyle habits, or it may involve therapy or medications. I even offer a course of my own HERE in which I share my recommended playlist of analytical and practical tools for rebalancing your positivity/negativity index... but whatever you end up doing, I hope you find your path to a more pleasant space for living and breathing in.
Towards your highest possibilities--
Part of the joyomancy motto is "...in the direction of your highest possibilities--"
But why not the usual "Manifest your maximum potential !" ?
Because though I am not here to encourage you to wallow in your difficulties, neither am I here to push you into some life of success and happiness that I think may be best for you. In fact, I don't really have personal thoughts on what is best for you... I am leaving that up to you. Deep within, you already know what you want to achieve, and you eventually will achieve it. It's inevitable. And if not in this life, then in some other... I'm not really worrying about it, and I think neither should you. But when you are ready to advance the timetable on your purpose, I am here ready to help you clarify it and begin charting the course--
♬ Nothing Heals Me Like You Do ♬
Last week I had some dental worries that got me down and a little anxious (I've always felt kind of weird and anxious about my teeth: are these little rocks in my mouth really a part of me? and why do they seem so willing to leave early?). Luckily they got resolved this Monday with just a normal filling, but the whole thing got me in a very thoughtful mood, and I was very happy to be able to lean on my partner for a little comfort... In that overdramatic mental space this song surfaced in my memory from more than 20 years ago and I've been listening to it a lot the past few days...
And then this morning I heard of the very sudden passing of an old high school friend. I saw his wife's final message to him on social media... It was simple and heartbreakingly earnest grief.
I'm not suggesting that you make this song your anthem, because you should ideally ground your happiness and health in your self. But we humans simply are not solitary creatures, and if you are lucky to have a truly great life-partner please take the time to be thankful for it and to celebrate it. And if you don't, that's fine too. Do the work on yourself to be your own best partner, and be grateful for the friends that give you an extra boost when that's still not quite enough for life's sometimes overwhelming events...
London Rain (Nothing Heals Me Like You Do) by Heather Nova
♪ a very lovely acoustic version
♫ original version backed with some moving rock guitar
World Mental Health Day 2020
World Mental Health Day is here and more important than ever. We need more chances to talk freely together about our mental health because it's the foundation of not only a healthy, happy individual life, but also the health of our families, communities, and societies. And mental health is unfortunately something that is not guaranteed to us... so many of us suffer silently with a wide variety of mental health issues. Not everyone does, but it's hardly unusual. In fact it's actually quite normal to be carrying around underlying mental issues that eventually impact our physical health, lower our quality of life, and damage our relationships.
Even though I have always been pretty high-functioning, I have suffered from anxiety since my earliest childhood memories and depression since mid-elementary school... I don't talk about it a lot (except in my bad poetry...), but I feel no shame in it. And neither should you. Like everyone else, I power through my daily life as best I can, and try to find ways of dealing with it. And thankfully, there ARE ways of dealing with it. a wide variety of ways to help our wide variety of issues and personalities...
If you are currently in the self-medicating stage (as I was with alcohol for many years), this era of social distancing is a great chance to change tactics and start some kind of formal therapy. There are many different options such as medication-based psychiatry, talk-therapy based psychology, group-based counselling, and alternatives like hypnotherapy, etc. For me it ended up being hypnotherapy, but really, just pick one that resonates with your general world-view / personality-type and go for it. Now. Unfortunately, I don't really know anyone who saw life-changing improvements without taking this step, and some of them tried a few different types before seeing those results, but it does seem to create a necessary turning point.
And if you are currently in this formal therapy stage, please do realize that even though it is a necessary step, it probably isn't going to be sufficient or enough to bring you long-term stability. You've got to get some new habits to expand and extend whatever positive results you have gained. And again, this current era of social distancing is actually a prime opportunity to do so. For me it has been a daily 15-minute reiki meditation, making sure I get enough sleep, and trying to schedule some regular light exercise. When I keep these simple habits up fairly regularly (not religiously), I'm pretty golden. When I let them slip for weeks at a time, my mind starts slipping back too. For you this might be medication, a support group, some spiritual practice, a significant hobby, or just a focus on healthy exercise/diet/sleep routines. Again, just find something that resonates with you and actually makes you feel good sustainably and commit yourself to it.
Commit yourself to you. and accept your commitment to you.
You totally deserve it.
Whenever they hold or direct our intentions, all symbols are magical--
Symbols help us focus our will. And that helps us create and manifest our reality--
Basically anything can be a symbol. Anything that focuses your will can become a personal symbol, and anything that holds the image of an idea can become a social, cultural, or religious symbol.
Many of the symbols that dominate us and create our reality for us have been inherited from our societies through family, teachers, and stories.
But you can also create symbols for yourself. Or let go of ones you no longer need...
You just have to manage the process with a little more intentionality.
When a symbol comes up and introduces itself to you, first ask your heart what that symbol means to you...
Start by trying to understand what your subconscious already attaches to that symbol. Then consciously decide what you really want the symbol to mean. and why. Maybe it matches, maybe it's new... That's up to you.
Next, get your subconscious to support how you will be using the symbol. Visualize the symbol and imagine its feeling during these 4 natural convergence times: waking, showering, driving, falling asleep--
When you feel like your subconscious has aligned with your intentions, then you can start to make the magic happen--
How to begin--
Notice synchronicities and let them amaze you.
Recognize unfoldings and let them fill your heart with awe.
like a chance meeting with an old acquaintance,
or this rare water lily tea
--light, sweet, and magical
Making peace with "small-talk"
It's the holidays-- Yay! Many of us will be visiting with family and friends we haven't seen in a while. This time of reconnections is a wonderful thing, and after we've shared a nice feast of food and drink, things usually go pretty smoothly. But those opening lines of conversation leading up to that... Well, they can actually be quite stressful for some of us.
For a surprising number of people, the "small talk" that helps get conversations going between strangers, occasional acquaintances, and distant relatives can be unbearably awkward and dissatisfying.
Some people offer strategies for overcoming this such as asking lots of questions about the other person and just listening to them carefully. This is not bad advice. But if you implement these strategies the wrong way, things could get even more awkward as you subject your unsuspecting uncle to an accidental interrogation...
I used to hate small talk too (even as a child), but now that I'm here living in Japan I find that small-talk is everything... and I have come to realize that it's just the process of building the temporary emotional connection between people in order to have a better talk about something more important, or even just to have a more connected experience of something that will not be primarily verbal (eating a meal, playing a game, or a watching a movie).
So whatever side of the awkwardness you are on, don't get too wrapped up in the content of it (how unimportant or uninteresting it might be) and just focus on the safe, caring connection that is being built by the seemingly trivial surface speech.
As a Gemini-Cancer cusper, I am both blessed with the gift of gab and yet deeply concerned with serious authenticity. So I am very aware of the struggle between wanting to communicate but being less interested in discussing the weather, the latest sports scores, or the tea we are having... and I don't want to fake it because that makes me feel unsatisfied, dishonest, and guilty.
But I also came to understand that small-talk isn't really primarily a content-based form of communication. It's really much more like animal calls, purrs, and tail-wagging. With this realization, we can be more committed to the authenticity of the underlying emotional experience than to the details of the surface statements... Commit to the connection rather than the meaning of the words.
I'm not suggesting to lie about stuff, but just let the surface flow lightly while you engage authentically at the deeper level of the emotional connection.
This change of mindset really freed me to heartfully meet anyone engaging me and connect with them where they were at, without feeling like I might be faking something...
...after that, the conversations themselves simply fell right into place without any effort at all--
I hope this helps you smooth out your enjoyment of the holidays and joyfully reconnect with your family and far-flung friends! Happy Holidays!
elegy to my poetic engine
Last night I went to a local poetry reading for the first time in almost twenty years. I felt wonderfully outclassed and it was so pleasant to have that chance to be swimming in the spoken words and emotional currents of such skillful artists. An enthusiastic ¡Thank you! to those poets who shared their hearts with us--
I was also confronted with the reality that while my literary critical sense has grown richer and more nuanced than ever, through my personal reiki and hypnotherapy work I have successfully therapied my internal complexity and tension right out. I'm still a fun and interesting person, but I have released the layers where the engine that drives powerful poetry is moored. Along with all those wonderful books I ended up shedding through Marie Kondo, I have no regrets --I'm surprisingly happy being deeply happy-- but I suddenly realize that I am now doomed to sketching out well-crafted but simply pleasant moments in haiku.
Oh, yes, and then expressing my surplus poetics through densely complex prose in these blog posts... sorry!
Photo evidence of me smoothly rolling out one of my English haiku just after fumbling through my Japanese tanka version of the same ...all gracefully wrapped up "saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry" sharing my favorite Robert Hass poem 'Meditation at Lagunitas'
What does 'joyomancy' mean?
Long ago, a very dear friend told me over a midnight bottle of red wine that romantics like me always end up as drunken cynics. She was passing on a piece of wisdom from Joni Mitchell, and she was mostly right.*
So how did I end up with such a ridiculous name as 'joyomancy' to represent my healing work? Yes, the "joy-" means joy as in joyful and is certainly not a word to ever escape the lips of the cynic without a sneer. While "-mancy" means divination magic and invites skepticism from just about anyone...
Well, Joni Mitchell ends her song insisting that those inevitable dark days are just a phase before the possibility of transformation. And there she was right on. I eventually moved through and past that end. Because as they so commonly say, "It ain't over till it's over." And depending on the scale of your outlook there may not even be any point at which it is truly "over."
Let that thought bring you hope. and yes, eventually joy--
* 'The Last Time I Saw Richard' --Joni Mitchell
Very Good Omens
'Good Omens' finally came to Amazon Japan. So lightly delightful and charming even with its brilliantly keen satirical edge-- just like its two main angelic and demonic characters. Such ineffable fun! And I love how a story about the Armageddon end of the world becomes a story of friendship--