I am Pure Joy – Transforming a negative experience into Joy

By: Alanna Zabel – Yoga Instructor
Contributor’s website: aziam

I had the honor of attending Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation annual celebration last week. This organization that Mariska started works to heal, educate and empower victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. They also have a strong focus to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues.

I had an even greater honor in that my company, Aziam, partnered with Joyful Heart, by creating a “Wife Lover” tank with the words, “I Am Pure Joy” printed center front. AZIAM is donating 10% of all sales of this Wife Lover to the Joyful Heart Foundation.

The evening was divine, it was powerful and it was real. Three assault survivors shared their story in a live reading. Their stories were mixed with the voices of other survivors, read by Joyful Heart supporting actors, including Hilary Swank and Blair Underwood.

I felt stillness in the air during the readings. I heard and saw tears roll down many faces (including my own), and I watched several men drop their heads in discomfort.

It is the exposure and revelation of experience that lends to the healing process and transformation of such travesty. Having a witness is necessary in the processing and release of any such pain, and it is extremely difficult to heal without a compassionate witness. Unfortunately, our society is not currently compassion dominant; it is sadly more dominated by judgment, pre-judgment, clique and gossip; all of which isolates a victim of abuse.

After the live readings, Mayor Villaraigosa stood and spoke about ending the rape kit “back log” problem in Los Angeles. I was not aware of this national problem. According to www.endofthebacklog, sexual assault evidence kits (referred to here as a “rape kit”) is the collection of DNA evidence from a rape victim’s body. If the victim decides to report the crime to the police, the rape kit is booked into police evidence. Not every one of these booked rape kits will get tested and they become part of what is referred to as the rape kit backlog–untested rape kits in both police storage and crime lab facilities.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of law enforcement jurisdictions do not require that every rape kit be tested. Experts in the federal government estimate that there are hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in police and crime lab storage facilities throughout the United States. Mayor Villaraigosa made a verbal pledge to progress the processing of rape kits in Los Angeles and to help end the back log.

When designing our Wife Lover, my business partner and I really wanted to express the Joyful aspect of transformation. We wanted our shirt to not only stand for female empowerment and self-respect, but also to be a daily reminder to transform back to our natural, childlike states of joy.

This blog, and this partnership with Joyful Heart, is about being new, about the transformation and restoring of joys to the tired and broken. It is about the process of change. It’s about moving along a trajectory away from the dark and towards the light. It is about knowing where you’re heading while you are present with your process, somewhere in the middle.

These concepts remind me of the essence of Kabbalah, the ancient Hebrew discipline and esoteric teachings of Judaism. It is in these teachings that I have learned the power of alchemy, where pure, clean water remaining pure, clean water is wonderful and light, but it does not hold transformative power in its naturally pure state. The alchemic power central to the laws of Kabbalah explain that water that became dark and muddy; then transformed back into pure water is able to access the infinite power of transformation. According to the law of Kabbalah, it is in that moment of transformation that one makes contact with the 99 percent realm of Light, where power sources.

The clearer you become, the less reactive you are, the more powerful you will be, as you release subconscious darkness from past experiences. These lighter, transformative behaviors dissolve the obstacles and past, negative experiences that keep you from being fully you.

Below are some exercises to assist in your transformation, instead of allowing any unexpressed pain to ferment inside of you:

1)    Write your experience in a factual memoir AND/OR
2)    Share your experience with a TRUSTED friend, counselor or support group; someone who can hold time and space with you; someone who can mirror compassion and love back to you, unconditionally.
3)    After your expressive exercise, sit and observe nature for a few minutes. Observe the beautiful aspects of life and nature, allowing yourself to let go of the negative experience that was weighing on you while you take in the magic of being alive.
4)    Practice the yoga pose, Standing Bow (see picture below). It may be helpful to hold onto the edge of a sturdy chair or a wall for added balance and support. Repeat in your mind, “I Am Pure Joy”. Smile. Beam. Be Joy. Be Love. Be New. Repeat on the other side.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anaïs Nin

Contributor’s website: Aziam
images: Mariska Hargitay and Debra Messing; photo courtesy of LaForce+Stevens. Alanna Zabel is Standing Bow pose; photo courtesy of AZIAM 
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