“The glory of God is man fully alive” – St. Irenaeus
What is the nature of passion, vitality, joy and aliveness? How can we cultivate these qualities in our lives?
Passion can be understood as a strong liking, desire or devotion to a particular activity, object or concept (Merriam-Webster). Vitality is the quality of being strong and active, energetic and enthusiastic. We have all experienced these states in our minds but how do we make these more stable fixtures in the architecture of the self? Is it possible to have passion and vitality as the baseline or set-point from which we meet life?
The key to aliveness is the willingness to fully experience what is happening in each moment. Vitality is dulled when we deny, suppress or push away any experience. Passion is born in a radical openness to life, a willingness to experience and embrace, to give an unreserved ‘yes’ to what is arising moment by moment.
We come alive through engagement, when we are deeply involved in whatever we are doing. We are engaged when we hold a deep interest in what is happening. Interest and curiosity, or an ‘exploratory’ and discovery-orientated mindset are therefore the basic attitudes of mind that facilitate aliveness and associated states like joy, exuberance, excitement, and enthusiasm.
Choose what resonates from the following passion practices:
Reflect on times when you felt deeply alive, joyful, passionate or engaged. What was the quality of this experience? How did it feel in the body? The mind? Can you call up that state simply by remembering or reflecting on it?
What kinds of experiences bring you alive? For example: people, activities, places, ideas etc. How can you make more time for these experiences in your life?
See if you can connect with the feeling of aliveness in each moment simply by tuning into what is happening inside and around you. What am I in touch with right now? What am I noticing? What am I aware of? Pay particular attention to your bodily experience – What sensations are there? See if you can unreservedly open to the full range of your experience, both pleasant and unpleasant, in this moment. What would it be like not to resist anything, but to say yes and fully embrace reality as it is?
Try breathing deeper and more fully into the body and see if this alters the energy in any way. Alter your posture and investigate how this affects your vitality. Try moving and observe the same. Yawn and stretch.
Ultimately, aliveness is an attitude, and orientation of curiosity, joy and excitement towards life itself. What would it be like to approach every activity, even mundane tasks with a sense of interest and enthusiasm? Notice novelty and bring fresh eyes to everything, as if you were experiencing that thing for the first time. Experiment with doing things in different ways and see how that alters your experience.
Ask yourself from time to time: What is most alive, most vital in this moment? How can I connect with the most passionate part of me? What excites me? What do I love? What makes me laugh and brings me joy? What can I do to energise or enliven this moment? How can I live this moment more fully?