Becoming aware of and addressing the unconscious patterns we hold is one of the most important ways we can contribute to, and make significant strides in, our personal growth and evolution. While there are endless areas for potential growth and change, I have been bringing particular awareness lately to the idea of empowerment and paying attention to how empowered I feel in my everyday life. As I have done so, I have seen many places I tend to give up my power, and also felt the incredible possibility for change that exists in being able to shift some of these habits. I have had a felt-sense of how, when we step into empowerment, we completely reorient to our experience, connect with our inner strength, capability and creativity, and step forward in life with a sense of trust and confidence.
Often, we are unconscious of the many ways we give up our power. It generally takes a lot less energy to become a victim than to feel empowered, so we often habitualize our helplessness. When we are stressed, we become victims of time, when we are sick, we become victims of illness, and when things aren’t going our way, we become victims of circumstances. In so doing, we give up not only our power, but our ability to create, influence or manifest the future. As a victim, life happens to us and we are no longer agents or creators in our experience.
To be clear, being empowered is not about control. We often can’t and don’t control what’s going on in our lives, regardless of how empowered we feel. Empowerment is more like a practice or a mindset: the mindset of approaching things with trust, knowing that you can handle what comes your way. It’s also about emotional sovereignty – understanding that you are in control of your emotions and reactions, regardless of what is happening around you or to you. It’s about maintaining a feeling of grounded-ness and inner strength in the face of challenge, of connecting to the warrior that says “I got this!”. When we meet life with this perspective, we remain in our power – not in control of everything that happens, but in control of our experience of what happens. This is what empowerment is all about.
It takes practice to bring yourself back to this place again and again as challenges come up. For me, it causes a shift in mind, emotions and body, providing a sense of strength and groundedness. It changes how I feel about what’s happening and influences what I see as possible in the future. Based on these shifts, and also what I know about energy and physiology, this feeling-state will cause very real changes in my body, mind and future. Feeling this way will upregulate my immune system, increasing it’s function and my defenses. It will make me energetically less vulnerable to outside influence. It will decrease my stress level, turning on healing and repair mechanisms in my body. It will increase my ability to magnetize and manifest what I desire, as I feel confident about creating the future I want. And, perhaps most altering, is that it will replace fear, worry and overwhelm with confidence and trust. It’s amazing how much energy is wasted with worry and fear, how much mental space these emotions occupy, and how much possibility is narrowed based on what we are afraid might happen. As you move into an empowered state-of-mind, you can reclaim all the space these old habits are using, and redirect it into positive movement and change. In so doing, you leave the victim behind, open up the range of possibility, shift the trajectory of your life, and become a proactive participant and creator of your own life.
Stepping into empowerment changes not only our daily experience, but contributes to an important evolutionary shift that is sorely needed at this time. We are being called to make change, to heal our inner wounds and approach life with a consciousness freed from the traumas of generations past. The places where we are disempowered show us where where work needs to be done, and where there is a powerful possibility for change. Shifting your relationship to your own power will invite you into a space of healing, transformation and life-altering change that has the potential to radically alter your life. I invite you to explore what is possible.
I don’t know about you, but for me, these late winter days can seem awfully dreary. Layer on the stresses of life, and too much time inside staring at my computer, and it’s clear that this is an important time to consciously bring more lightness and spontaneity into life. In order to maintain positivity, motivation and inspiration, I’ve recently confirmed (for myself, at least), that we need to not only take breaks, but also, find time for fun, joy and pleasure. The implications of making a practice out of experiencing joy are vast, and, in case you’ve never really thought about it, here are some of the reasons why.
We often hear about the importance of taking time to de-stress, which is certainly an important thing to do. Why stop there, though, when you can go three steps further? Making time for not only relaxing, but also intentionally experiencing joy, we step past simply supporting the body and mind, and move into nourishing the heart and inspiring the soul. Feeling joy and pleasure opens us up, energetically, physically and emotionally, connecting us to the energy of our heart and allowing us to effortlessly align with the present moment and what we are here to do and be. It takes mentalism out of the equation and reminds us what it is like to just be and feel.
We humans are blessed with the ability to use our senses to experience pleasure in the body. How often do we think of our senses in this way or leverage the power they hold to bring us joy? Think of how blissful it can be to hear a beautiful song, experience the touch of a loved one, admire a soul-inspiring piece of art, or eat a sumptuous meal. Our senses are here, not just to serve us with information, but also to nourish us with joy, to bring us into presence and to give us pleasure! Our senses are wired into the brain, triggering emotional responses, memories, and signals to our nervous and hormonal systems. Sensual enjoyment and pleasure, very literally changes our nervous system tone, gives us a dose of happy hormones, and uplifts our emotions, heart and soul.
Of course, there are many other ways to experience joy other than through our senses. Maybe you’re an exercise person or a crafter. Maybe you love to cook or dance or sing or write. Whatever it is, the things that bring us a feeling of joy inevitably connect us to who we are at our core, and offer an invitation into relationship with the soul. We tend to get so attached to roles and labels, our work and our list of accomplishments. It is important to regularly challenge these classifications, expanding beyond the confines of who we think we are, and tapping into the remembrance of our full-spectrum beingness. Each of us is uniquely inspired to express and experience life through many avenues – we are the dancer, the singer, the runner, the artist, the cook; the infinite, the unity, and the one – we are the soul expressing, and joy is a for-sure signal that we are tapping into what is personally meaningful, not just as a human, but as an infinite soul.
I have also recently been reminded of the importance of play in human life, a practice that also can bring a lot of joy. Culturally this is so under-appreciated, for both children and adults, as work is generally seen as the only way to learn or achieve anything of meaning. A look at both human history and modern research tells a different story, however, confirming that we actually learn best through play. When we occupy the body, mind and heart, are excited about and engaged in what we are doing, and participating with a sense of openness and joy, it makes sense that learning would take place effortlessly, often without even any awareness, and be integrated into the body immediately and deeply. In contrast, purely mental work is like tucking something superficially into the brain, with no meaning attached. It’s no wonder this kind of knowledge can be quickly lost.
Play is also a key way we process experiences, work with difficult emotions and decompress from stress, as any parent of a young child knows. Similar to how dreams or creative projects allow us to work-through, process and express, play takes us into the realm of imagination and fantasy, allowing a spaciousness and fluidity to explore a situation, play out troubling reactions or emotions and even feel out different possible outcomes. All of this “work” may be done without conscious awareness or in seemingly illogical ways, as the mind at play is freed from the rigidity and analysis that we often apply when thinking about our problems. Play, in addition to being useful as a processing tool, is, of course, often joyful and fun! I would love to see us all learn more and grow more through joy, pleasure, play and fun rather than suffering, struggle, challenge and adversity! If we could embrace this idea, it would be an amazing paradigm shift, for us as individuals, as well as for our culture as a whole.
Though we all vary a great deal in our relationship to joy, it is clear that there are many benefits in connecting with this emotion regularly. The true pursuit and experience of joy is one that inspires and motivates us to live life more fully: it lights up our heart and reinvigorates our passion for life, it reorients us to the present and helps free us from the limitations of our stories. As we tap into this emotion and begin to use it as a tool to augment our life, we can start to truly appreciate how integral it is in bringing a sense of wholeness, happiness and peace, and understand that, far from being a hedonistic habit, the pursuit of joy is actually a very valuable, and even necessary, element of our health and well-being. Here’s to more joy!
Hi! My name is Ashley and I'm a transformational healer, writer and artist. Here you will find articles on a variety of topics related to health and healing, conscious living and self-growth. Hope you enjoy!