Spirit, Soul and Body!
~Dr. Dawn Karima

    Genocide. Pandemics. Systemic Racism. Sadly,

Indigenous individuals and Tribal communities all

know and recognize these tragic forces. No longer

relegated to historical grief and trauma, the effects

of damaging political divisions, a vicious plague

and a resurgence of racism all menace modern

Native Americans. 
   As we mourn the casualties of Covid 19 amidst

daily negative news headlines, there is a spiritual

force that will help us.  As we emerge from

quarantine and attempt to move forward, we realize

that Trouble comes to every life, regardless of age,

stage of life, gender, nationality, personality, education or economic situation. Yet, our Indigenous culture offers us the antidote to Trouble...JOY!

    Yes, I said JOY! No, not happiness, that’s different. Happiness is based on circumstances, situation and who’s around us in our lives. Let’s look at it like this: If you are only happy when you are eating ice cream, what happens when your ice cream melts or runs out? Right! You’re no longer happy. 

    Now, Joy…that’s something different. Joy is the calm delight that fills our souls and sustains us no matter what is happening around us, no matter what we do or do not have.  Joy is our strength.  Joy helps us to survive some of the deepest depths of despair and come out stronger on the other side. 

    Joy strengthens our souls so that we can withstand the storms of life and learn lessons during them.  Happiness is conditional, yet Joy is unconditional. Happiness is rooted in external circumstances, yet Joy is a part of our internal environment. 

    Happiness is based on favorable situations, yet Joy can be part of our mindset in any situation.  Happiness is an emotional feeling, yet Joy is a spiritual force. Our ancestors understood this principle and created a unique Native humor that empowers us to endure by infusing smiles into any situation. Giving thanks in the form of feasts, dances, songs, prayers and art also inspire Natives to focus on joy. Our core values of generosity and hospitality also instill joy into our hearts during seasons of scarcity or abundance. Joy sustained our elders during terrible times and joy will strengthen us, too.

     So, how can we tap into the spiritual force of Joy? In my book, WHAT TO DO IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO, which you can find on Kindle, I share some shortcuts to seeing Joy, unspeakable and full of glory. One of the very best is simple…gratitude. 

     Gratitude is the only attitude worth having. Being thankful raises you to a higher spiritual level, one where the Trouble you’re facing has less impact. Yet, in the midst of Trouble, how can you help Spirit to preserve your life and elevate your energy? Be Grateful!

      Counting your blessings is a rapid way to release Trouble and to realize that more things in your life are working for you and in your favor than you might think at the moment. Make a list of everything good in your life, even if it seems hard to do at first. Trouble has been the biggest issue in your conversation and thought life for a while, so it may feel strange to magnify the good things you enjoy. Do it anyway!

     Pause and calmly think about each blessing. Fill your heart, your mind, your spirit with thanksgiving.  The more you are thankful, the more you will realize that you have even more things to be thankful for and that you have many more good things in your life than bad ones.
Gratitude is a traditional tribal value.  Start with the tiny things, the little things and as your list grows, you are increasing your spiritual force of Joy and you’re elevating your perspective. Give thanks and let joy be your strength!

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