Growing from this understanding of right/left brain stuff is a practice that Sam walked me through. It’s been this practice which has helped me return to joy, to do so consistently and with staying power. I was familiar with the basic structure of the practice, but there were a couple of twists new to me.
The summary is: ask Jesus to reveal a memory of when you experienced joy; a time when you felt his delight in you (because God is bigger and stronger than you and he delights in you because you’re weaker). When you have the memory, try to recall how you felt physically. Where in your body did you feel joy? What did joy feel like? Now, hold that feeling in your body right now. You can return to joy.
Because this memory is connected to your body, and your body is connected to your right brain, and because your right brain is where attachments occur, you can reconnect with God deeply, rather than just trying to think, reason or “will” your way back into an attachment…which just doesn’t work.
Along with a couple of other breathing and posture practices, I’ve been finding lasting relief from the effects of all those losses. It’s not that they are gone or that I don’t feel them (some of them are very present and relatively intense) but I can actively return to a state of joy even in the midst of those feelings.
It’s trippy. It’s not an act of will. I haven’t reasoned my way into joy or out of sadness and anger. It’s not like there were a couple of pages stuck together in my Bible all these years concealing knowledge I previously missed. It’s not like my will power got a shot of steroids and now it can move my heavy feelings around with ease. That’s all left-brain stuff and I’ve been feeding it and nurturing it for 59 years. I’m simply allowing God access to the other half of my brain: the place where young Dan (who is brave and curious; largely unaffected by what other people think of him and deeply attached to Jesus) lives.
Two quick examples of how this presents itself. The other day, I was about to get in the shower and “noticed” (not consciously) that there was no bathmat on the floor. In a split second, wordlessly, this enormous internal transaction took place in me (apart from my will or really conscious thought) that went something like this:
“I want to feel that nice mat on my feet when I get out of the shower.”
“It’s not there. You don’t have *time* or *resources* to spend looking for it and laying it down. It’s not necessary, don’t be a pansy. Just get in the fucking shower.“
“No. That’s a stupid lie. You CAN enjoy the feeling of a nice bath mat on your feet. It’s Good! And while you’re at it, take the extra *time* and *resources* to move the pile of towels, choose the one that you like (that feels like a good SCRATCH on your back) and put that on the hook. That’ll be really nice when you get out.”
Without thinking, I was already reaching for the nice towel and caught myself smiling…
Again, I’ve put into words what happened wordlessly in less than one second. In the past, the second voice would win every time…because I was deaf to the first voice…that part of me which is deeply attached to Jesus.
The second example was just a few days later during band practice at church. I was standing in the auditorium as the band played and I listened (most weeks my role is just to “direct”). I don’t recall the song they were playing, but it was good. They hit a groove and the lyrics caught me and I could feel the kick drum in my chest, the vocals were tight and it was just….good. Before I knew what was happening, I caught myself sort of…dancing…