Friday, October 2, 2009

The Joy Diet - Getting to the Truth

I think I’m getting the hang of nothing! The fifteen minutes of nothingness has now become a practice of twenty minutes each day, and I stuck to it this week. Of course they don’t call it “practice” for nothing – my mind is ever busy wandering from obsession to preoccupation and back again. But it seems I’m a bit less discouraged now, and looking forward to sitting in meditation rather than dutifully forcing myself to. And I’m able to be more relaxed about noticing thoughts and letting them go.

Joy, however, still seems like a reward being withheld until I’ve satisfied a few prerequisite chores. Don’t get me wrong, I am beginning to find the process satisfying and comforting, but I’m wondering where the joy is in this Joy Diet. Nothing? Truth? It seems like the first couple of menu items are not as obviously joyful as what’s coming: Desire, Creativity, Risk, Treats, Play, Laughter, Connection, Feasting.

The week of Truth has revealed some of my monsters lurking in the deep. While I appreciate that being honest with ourselves is a necessity, why do the questions in this “menu item #2” focus on hurt and pain? I hope the next chapter will address the positive side of our truth, rather than only what we’re unhappy about. Some of the monsters revealed this week? I’m not good enough, I can’t live up to the hype, I’m feeling overwhelmed, I should have learned to play the piano, I am scattered and can’t focus, I am lazy and unmotivated. I get it when Martha Beck says, “If you make a habit of this, you’ll find that your ‘bad’ feelings are exactly the ones that you most need to explore. The feeling you think is bad beyond belief may be the only teacher in the universe from whom you can learn genuine goodness.” If my “pains” are coming more from my stories than about reality, I can more easily realize that I’m free to leave suffering behind. Sounds good to me. Martha Beck suggests we flip the pain-story, “trying permutations and explanations for it until you feel the open, satisfying sense that you’ve stumbled upon a story more true than the one you’ve been using to hurt yourself.” Again, this seems like sensible and good medicine, getting us to a greater truth than the original pain-story. But joy?

I did feel a little soothed by offering compassion to myself with the phrases: “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be free from suffering.” But beyond that I’m not quite sure how to care for my “inner lying scumbag.” As suggested I also tried thinking of things I could do to bring more love into the world. Unfortunately, while I can think of a good number of actions that fit that description, I don’t comprehend how this would heal my wounds and pains. Maybe, like last week’s Nothing, I need to practice more and try to remember what Martha says:

“It is the truth that offers us this freedom, the freedom to test what we are taught, to accept what we feel in our hearts, to believe what we know in our bones, and to love ourselves – including the worst aspects of ourselves – until we see through enough of our illusions to discover who we were really meant to be. At this point, we will have dismantled the biggest lie, the most profound denial of all: the denial of our own inestimable power and value.”


  1. I thought the same - about focusing on the negative and the pain. I'm normally a rather optimistic person. However, we all feel some pain that we'd rather hide than face and more often than not, it is better faced.

  2. I found it difficult to be aware of any pain also. My answer to the question of" What hurts? was: nothing hurts, at least I am not aware of any pain. So that question became a stopping point for me. The book does seem to imply that all truth is painful, or maybe Martha is saying that we only avoid painful truths and that's why the focus is on pain.

  3. I think though too sometimes we can say "nothing hurts" because we hide our feelings or hide from them...we become NUMB to them and honestly do NOT feel any hurt anymore. Weird...

  4. Thank you - very thoughtful and I agree I am looking forward to the less painful side of truth.

  5. I had the same initial reaction to the questions at first... until I realized that it's only in uncovering what hurts that we can heal it and re-write the story... and there's nothing like realizing that the negative self-talk is not the truth at all.

  6. Your heartfelt post has added so much dimension to my search for the truth...thank you!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with truth. I am also looking forward to the softer less painful side of truth as well.

  8. Thanks for sharing your week of truth. I also found I could take some painful truths and turn them around with compassion for yourself and others.

  9. Wow! So awesome that you're really digging in on nothing! 20 minutes is huge!! congrats! <3 see you next week!!

  10. I did not like to think of negatives either. I find feeding your self positives works well. And you do find happiness and joy.

  11. I can understand so well, all you have written, Helen.
    I had the same thought: where is the joy in the joy diet and why must I focus on hurt? (I have done this sosososososo often before...)
    (In fact this was, why I started dancing, dancing is nothing AND joy- and truth)
    Looking forward to see you in the realms of DESIRE! Take care!
    (Thanks for becoming a follower!)

  12. It's me again ;)

    Invitation to my new blog project

    It would be nice to have you in there!

    Please check out:

    If you want to be in, please leave a comment on my blog, to make sure you won’t be forgotten. Thanks.

    See you!

  13. it was definitely a challenging week and I'm with you on the pain focus - I don't always want to 'dwell' and 'wallow' in pain - perhaps on occasion, but I'm also really forward to the Joy chapters - it's about time!

    Sparkly Blessings,
    Kathy C.