Leading With Joy
I just finished leading an Education for Life Music Workshop in which I worked with four music teachers from the Living Wisdom Schools in Portland, Seattle, and Palo Alto. For two and a half days we immersed ourselves in the vibration of music and children: a very powerful and uplifting mix!
Working with groups of children can be one of the most challenging tasks. The hardest two years in my life were as an inexperienced classroom teacher, and my hat is off to all teachers everywhere, who must constantly raise their energy up to and above that of their students.
Children (and anyone, for that matter) can easily tell if the teacher is enthusiastic about what they are teaching, and are much more likely to follow along when they can feel the joy resonating from the teacher, eliciting a sympathetic response in themselves. As teachers we are taught to expand our auras around the children, and the next step of vibrating with joy makes the job so much easier! My worst days are when I stumble in with low energy – not surprisingly, the kids run all over me. But when I can come in not only with high energy, but in a true state of joy, inspirations come that make a great class.
I was just talking with my wife Madhavi this morning about passion, and how that word implies something that burns brightly for a short time, and then burns out. Enthusiasm, however, seems to be a much better word to use, and a much better state to be in!
And how to feel more joy? We can all feel it in different activities which we love – for me it includes anything musically inspiring – but we can also find and cultivate it in our daily meditation and fellowship. Why wait for only those activities which give us joy, when we can cultivate the ability to feel joy spontaneously, on demand?
I also had the wonderful opportunity to teach a class on How to Use Your Voice as a Channel of Divine Grace last Saturday night at the Expanding Light. We worked on infusing our voices with the energies of the different upper chakras, and practiced speaking and singing with our entire energy, feeling, and highest consciousness. What a difference it made! We finished by reading aloud Yogananda’s poem, Samadhi, consciously infusing the words with the deeper meaning and inspiration from which they came. Needless to say, an extremely deep experience for us all!
How to become a better teacher, manager, parent, friend? Practice the presence of joy. And isn’t it funny how we can resist entering into that experience?
I remember years ago I was teaching at a Suzuki Cello Institute, and was silently criticizing and at the same time envying the fact that another teacher was performing with JOY, even though they were much less advanced techically. My critical mind kept on harping, “he’s not aloud to enjoy that – it’s too out of tune!!” I was dumbfounded how someone could simply choose to be joyful, regardless of how people like me were judging them.
My challenge now is to take these inspirations and truly lead myself with joy into those situations where I haven’t yet practiced – cleaning up messes, tackling the less than desirable jobs, and all those things that I’ve subconsciously thought in the past “what a chore”.
I remember when, upon first coming to Ananda, I asked one of our ministers with great expectation, “Are you in joy all the time?”
“Not yet,” he said with complete honesty and steadfast intention, “not yet“.