Happiness alights upon us when we stop chasing it – isn’t that what people say about joy and butterflies?
I left the pursuit of goals behind for a few days, and instead just indulged in activities that light me up. Singing, dancing, yoga, meditation, and communities of like-minded people: It was a weekend full of all kinds of joy!
It was a weekend full of all kinds of joy!
It was a glorious 48 hours during which I danced blues and lindy hop, two dance styles I’ve studied for more than a decade, to a live jazz and blues band; practiced Bhangra and Bollywood Indian dance styles in an energized, free-flowing dance workshop; sang along with Hindu mantras about the divine creator in a kirtan concert; and practiced yoga “kriyas” (in Kundalini Yoga, a kriya is a series of postures, breathing exercises, and/or mantras with a specific theme or goal, similar to a series of asanas in other types of yoga).
This past weekend, I let myself take a break from all the planning work I’ve been doing on my yearly dream goals to enjoy some favorite activities, spend time with friends, and relax. No matter how much we wish to accomplish in the world, or how big our goals are, we all need to give ourselves a break sometimes and to take the time to just enjoy life.
I had the opportunity to see some beloved friends, and to do some of my favorite things: yoga, dancing, and enjoying live music!
All of these fun and joyful activities brought me a renewed sense of dream purpose as I launched my week. Sometimes when I am focused on moving forward with dream goals, I feel like I need to be working 24/7 towards making it all happen, yet it is when I stop and take a break that I generally emerge with the newest creative ideas and more energy to fuel all of my passions.
By just going out there and taking part in activities that are fun for me, I am rejuvenated. Sometimes the best creative ideas rise up after we give ourselves some space to breathe, take a break and enjoy all the beauty and wonder of life, even for a little while.
If you’ve ever taken kundalini yoga, you may be familiar with the phrase “Sat Nam” which translates more or less to “I am the truth.” It captures the essence of the divine in each of us.
The Sat Nam Yoga Festival is held in the Berkshires. It is a five-day event, and I was able to attend for the whole day on Saturday, which means that I took part in four different workshops, blissed out during a live concert, and shared delicious vegetarian meals with friends.
I started my day with a yoga workshop with the beautiful and luminous Snatam Kaur, whose music I have enjoyed for a few years now. If you’ve ever taken a kundalini yoga class, you know that they end with the song “Long Time Sun” and I’ve never heard a more beautiful recorded version of this song than the one created by Snatam.
She apparently grew up in a family of yogis and began practicing yoga and meditation at an early age. She is one of those souls who seems to be lit from within, with a purity and sweetness to her that makes you feel an innate sense of goodness.
It was such a treat to hear her perform this beautiful song live that has closed out all the kundalini yoga classes and workshops I have attended. This was the kundalini yoga equivalent of seeing Prince or Michael Jackson live (okay, I realize it’s too late to see them live now, so let’s say the equivalent of seeing Sting or Bono if that resonates with you).
What a beautiful start to a day: Snatam Kaur’s morning Kundalini yoga workshop and performance.
My dear friend and kundalini yoga teacher Sat Kriya Kaur, who teaches yoga in Albany and Troy, NY, in my home community, had told me that I’d love Jai’s workshop, both her dancing style and her exuberant and joyful spirit. Sat Kriya was right!
I fell in love with Jai’s bright, uplifting energy and spirit, her belief in the joy of movement, and her commitment to helping everyone embrace that they are already perfect as they are. Jai teaches that you can’t “get it wrong” when you are dancing or singing.
Your unique voice, she emphasized, your unique signature moves, lifting that voice, and finding joy in the movement are what matters. Jai very powerfully dispelled the notion that there’s one right way to dance or sing, or that you shouldn’t dance or sing unless you are trained professionally in movement or song.
I love it that she based a whole 1.5-hour workshop on the pure joy of movement! Jai taught us some Bollywood dance moves, but she also just encouraged everyone to move and flow and experience where their bodies want to move to the music.
I find that freedom of expression is a core part of finding happiness because we all have a unique voice and unique gifts to share with the world! Let’s face it: No one else on earth can express the essence of YOU the way only you can.
Back to My Swing Dance Roots!
On Sunday, I headed out to see a live jazz and blues band and to dance with some dear longtime friends, who are favorite dance partners of mine. For those who don’t know this already, I was a professional swing dance performer and instructor with my ex-husband from 1999 to 2004.
It’s always a joy to get back out there on the dance floor and to joyfully interpret the music with a partner. Swing and blues dancing is groovy, sexy and playful dance styles, and there’s so much room for connection, interpretation, and improvisation.
I reconnected with old friends I’ve known on the dance scene since around the year 2000 (and by the way, I can’t believe I’ve been dancing lindy hop for more than 16 years now!). I hope I will always dance, at all ages.
Sometimes when I am focused on achieving new goals, I feel like I have to push, push, push and work constantly. Paradoxically, however, the opposite is usually true: by taking a break, and focusing on pure joy and the happy experience of simply living, I return to my dream work refreshed, renewed, and feeling more creative and inspired.
The Moral Of The Story?
Make time to enjoy yourself and to have more adventures with family and friends! Don’t miss a minute of all this goodness.
At the end of our lives, I doubt any of us will wish that we had worked more. The top regrets of the dying tend to include wishing we had spent more time with those we love and allowed ourselves to be happier.
Choose to give yourself a break from pushing so hard to achieve those dreams! Find happiness in loving this life, right now, and in enjoying all the beautiful moments. Sometimes dream breakthroughs happen when we allow ourselves time to take a much-needed break.
Lisa Graham is an inspirational writer, life coach, motivational speaker, and globe-trotter whose passion is to help others to find happiness and meaning their daily lives. A political activist at heart, Lisa would like to empower more women to run for political office as a way to create positive change in the world. You can find her on the Madam President Project.