Friday, June 4, 2010

Thou Child of Joy

My niece with her little Sully, taken by Heather of TendershootZ.

Once again, Meridian Magazine has an article that is well worth the reading, entitled "Thou Child of Joy." Its author, M. Catherine Thomas (formerly of the BYU Ancient Scripture Department), suggests that every one of us inadvertently places an artificially imposed limit upon the amount of joy we are willing and able to experience. Even better, she suggests ways and means of expanding that limit to first claim and then own what she declares to be our "birthright": rapture.

I don't know about you, but I thoroughly enjoy joy. I also enjoy what this woman has to say about it. Especially this:

"But we are an odd species in that we cannot feel good for very long before we try to cut it off with some negative thought to bring us down. Two therapists, a married couple, describe the human tendency to feel bad as the 'Upper Limits Problem.' They suggest that really the only problem we have to solve, whether by ourselves or in a relationship, is to learn how to let our self expand continuously into more positive energy. Due to our past conditioning, they say, we all have a lid on how much positive energy we can tolerate. Go past this limit and an alarm goes off in our unconscious mind...

"When the upper limit is exceeded there can be an 'ashy' feeling inside. Breath and movement help. Even a few minutes of deep breathing or fast physical activity can move the toxic sensation out of the body. Since 70% of the toxins in the body are released through breathing, toxins are most effectively dispersed through activities that stimulate the breath.

"Spiritual development is a holistic venture, employing all aspects of our self."

Having experienced the feeling many times, I know with all my heart that great joy is possible. I am beginning to believe that it is also sustainable, particularly when we remember that its accompanying light and warmth are fueled by divine energy. Such energy, being unlimited in nature, does not burn out (only we do), and neither does it go dim. Our innate tendency to "see through a glass, darkly" doesn't mean we can't increase our ability to access the light on a more regular basis. In fact, with added awareness and deliberate practice, we may even learn to keep our doors and windows open to it all or most of the time.

Of course, any light that comes to us emanates from one Source. Like every positive thing we experience in life, Christ is at the center, and ours is the decision to move closer or farther away.

"Step by step, we come to Thee...
Thy light is a beacon for all to see."

The joy will follow.

I should have included this poem in that happiness talk (part 1 and part 2) I gave in Dallas, but I will share it now:

©2003 Susan Noyes Anderson, His Children, Vantage Point Press

Though some have more and some have less
All have the gifts that He imparts
His children will find happiness

Not in belongings they possess
But in the longings of their hearts
Though some have more and some have less

The measure of a soul’s success
Lies in the sacred, inner parts
His children will find happiness

In days of bliss or deep distress
Each child can learn the Master’s arts
Though some have more and some have less

All have the power to heal and bless
All feel the hope of fresh new starts
His children will find happiness

In every feeling they express
In joy and all its counterparts
Though some have more and some have less
His children will find happiness


Jamie said...

Really fabulous post, Sue! I believe in this concept with all my heart. I think we absolutely have a limit to how good we will let ourselves feel or enjoy before we start looking for ways to counterbalance it. It's amazing how often we-especially women-look for ways to temper our joy with our shortcomings. How many times have I thought to myself "yes, that went well, BUT it's no big deal, anyone could do it," or "I really should have ______ instead." I know I do it every time I speak in public or give a lesson, I just keep feeding that nasty little creature that lives in the dark recesses of my soul.

I love the idea of using a physical force to remove this kind of poison from our minds. The physical and the spiritual do meld together in a powerful way, if we let them.

Thanks for sharing this thought provoking article as well as your thoughts on it.

Completely unrelated---I DVR'd So You Think You Can Dance (at your suggestion)and really enjoyed it. Thanks-a lot! :) I really didn't need to feed the addiction any more!

Jill said...

That is very interesting about the 70% toxins that are released through breathing. Perhaps the way we breath really does matter.

I like the subject of joy. I once gave a talk on this at our stake enrichment meeting and the study of it all fascinated me.

Snarky Belle said...

Beautiful!!! And the poem of yours? One of my favorites. Thanks for sharing the joy!

Snarky Belle said...

Oh, and maybe the breathing part is why many people find yoga so beneficial. Maybe I'll give it a try?

Amy said...

What a profound thought! I have never thought much on it before, but it makes complete sense. And the breathing thing... perhaps that is why when you get upset people say "take a deep breath and count to 10." I am going to have to go read the article now. Thanks for pointing it out to me.

Jackie said...

Oh Sue. You bring me joy!~

Heather Anderson said...


This incredible post left me breathless, which apparently leaves me 70% more toxic than I was before I read it. Oh well, nothing a little Lamaze won't fix.

Respectfully Submitted,

Matthew D. Anderson

Anonymous said...

The poem is beautiful and the pictures are precious. I enjoyed this post. Hugs

Nishant said...

Beautiful!!! And the poem of yours? One of my favorites.
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karen said...

I love that poem. It makes me feel all peaceful and warm. You're right about joy: every time things have been going really well for awhile, I start looking around to see what's going to come crashing down. There's no reason anything should - it just feels like I've had my happiness rest, and now it's time for a trial. But until the trial happens I shouldn't let those thoughts invade my joy.
And yoga is wonderful for helping you to consciously breathe. You can actually feel stress melting away. I hope you've tried that DVD? *stern look* Did I tell you not to do it in front of a mirror? You must *imagine* yourself tall and willowy, and then, suddenly, you ARE. In your head anyway. I love yoga.

jen said...

I read this earlier in the day and I've thought about it a lot.
Thanks for a thought-provoking post. It has fed a post I've been pondering. Maybe sometime next week . . .

Natalie said...

What a beautiful post! What a great concept - it really makes sense and seems so true. We start to wonder what is going to go wrong when things are going well. What an amazing poem. You are a remarkable writer! Thanks so much for your kind comments on my blog!

Just ME the MOM said...

I'm a total believer in deep organized breathing, it is powerful and can over come much and provide strength and renew our bodies. If women can use it to get through the birthing experience, think about how much good it can do all of us if used on a regular basis to overcome stress today. Great post and thoughtful poem.


My name is PJ. said...

Wonderfully thoughtful, Sue!

I totally agree that if we walk in His light, towards His light, with His light, our joy will know no limits.

Your poem summed it up beautifully!

Braden said...

That is fascinating. I have never heard that idea of the upper limit discussed but it tracks so well with my own experience. That is really interesting. Great post!

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

Hmm, that was quite interesting, and so great!
I love it! Now if I could just implement it into my life.
Why are so many things easier said then done?

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