I have a love-hate relationship with yoga.  It always feels so good afterwards.  

As the instructor began class last week he asked us to set an “intention.”  They do this often and I usually have something to bring.  But last week I was more concerned about just getting out alive as I had not been to class in a few weeks and I knew I was in for a work-out.  The instructor then graciously offered some suggestions of intentions that we could use; one was “invite joy.” 

Hmmmmm ….. I had never thought about inviting joy.  In the past I have been challenged to choose joy, find joy, be joyful, let joy happen, etc.  You may have your own “joy” saying similar to this, but I was challenged to “invite” joy into my life.   Yes!   It’s there just waiting for me to give a nod and say “Yes, joy, you are welcome today.  You are welcome into the chaos, confusion and messiness of this day.  Let me make room for you.” 

So as the instructor took me into some horrific, painful stretch he reminded us to focus on our intention that we had set.  Painful stretch, invite joy; deep breathing into the painful stretch, invite joy; hold the stretch, breathe, invite joy.  They can co-exist.  It requires a different way of seeing.  

The Spirit again reminded me of how pain is a wonderful opportunity to invite those things into our lives that we, perhaps, have not previously made space.   Pain heightens our awareness and, for lack of a better phrase, makes us sit up and take notice!  Rumi shares a grand thought about pain and sorrow:

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. 

I am gradually learning to find that consistent thread of joy that is waiting for my nod, my acknowledgment, my daily invitation; it is always there through the pain, the sorrow and the hard things.   It’s as easy as a simple whisper of “welcome.”