Joy’s Book
6 Keys
Blog & News
Email List!
To be notified of Sing* Dance* Drum Events or Creatively Expressive Transformational workshops coming to your area please…
Join Our Mailing List

7 Keys to a Free & Vital Life

The 7 Keys to a Free and Vital Life


Key 1)  Hearing the Inner Essential Being’s Voice – emotions, intuitions, and subtle senses.

Knowing and Honoring your Inner Being


 Hearing your inner being, to know what you truly want or what is right for you starts with being able to feel, honor and express emotions in a safe and healthy way.  Our culture – both at large and personal, i.e., family, religious beliefs, media, peers, etc, has made some emotions not OK, especially those of anger, grief etc – the less than lovely feelings.  It has also made it unacceptable to put our own needs first.  There are many different mandates as to who we “should and should not” be, that has us unable to hear what it is our inner being REALLY feels or wants. Between this and traumas that may have been experienced, the lines of communication begin to shut down.  You could say a part of you becomes frozen in space and time.

It is possible to reawaken these parts, to re-open the lines of communication that then make it possible to know what it is your inner self really wants and needs.  Without this you are always subject to the needs, desires or beliefs of others.  The longer the lines are shut down the farther away you move from a life that looks and feels like the truth of who you are.

On the other hand, when you start to hear and take steps to honor – meaning do what your inner essential Self of you is asking for – regardless if it goes against the rules or “shoulds” that culture, family or friends set out for you, the more you transition from a life of ill health, depression and host of other maladies, to a life that is joyful and feels in alignment with your soul essence.    



What messages have your emotions, intuitions or subtle senses, been trying to convey to you that you have overridden with justifications, over busyness, or reasoning that it is not right to feel these things?

For example, have you been cranky lately, or more depressed, sad, or angry than usual?  Or have you noticed a little nudging towards or away from something?   What messages have been trying to come through that you have basically ignored?

If you don’t have a line of communication running openly, such that you hardly notice what was mentioned above, then how do experience numbness?  Do you do workaholism, exercisaholism, TV or mediaholsim, or substances of any kind.


Key 2)     Transformation of the Inner Critic

Transforming Judgment to Discernment; ultimately to Compassion & Acceptance


This key is about letting go of judgment and blame—both internally and towards others.One very big step in the transformation of the critical voice within is to develop the ability for “tracking”. This means to notice or pay attention to what or how you say things within or without.  It is strengthening “the witness” aspect of the Centered Essential Self.  This is crucial as it begins to separate our Essential Self from the “voices” within.   The inner essential voice, which is often quiet or subtle, is greatly blocked by the pushy power of the critical voice.  You could call it the ego voice verses the voice of soul.   

Did you know that when you judge someone else your psyche takes it as you are judging yourself!  It does not see the difference.  Paying attention to your verbal statements of judgment and blame of others also plays an important role.   As well as recounting mistakes, comparing, complaining, and a  host of other “styles” of expression the critic will assume.

Whether it is discovering old withheld feelings from the past – part of Key 1; or in developing the witness that allows you to see more clearly the full extent of the critic and ultimately be able to stand up to it or transform its ways – Key 2;  both of these involve becoming aware of things most people are not readily aware of and are usually things one might not like to see or feel. Hence they are part of what is called the shadow.

To allow yourself to touch these less than lovely places and then to hold them with compassion, is what opens the lines of communication.  It is also what makes the space for the ultimate transformation of the energy of the inner critic into something more evolved and more useful…. Ultimately we want to replace the voice of the critic with an internal voice that will give us the nurturing, loving and accepting response that our parents may not have been so versed in.  We will ultimately be re-parenting ourselves and creating new tracks of experience in our consciousness.

If you are knocking yourself down every time you make mistakes – ie the harsh judger that wants you to be “great or perfect ” at whatever you do, you will never do anything different than you already know. The saying goes: If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you always got.  Softening of the inner critic is one important key that lets us move out of a life that does not fully work for us, to a place where we can try new things and bring about deep and lasting change.


What are my self judgments holding me back from? (or judgments of others which is really judging myself)

What are those judgments and what is it I would be doing if I did not stop myself?


Key 3)    Learning to Actively Love Ourselves

From Critic to Loving Presence    From Judgment to Compassion & Acceptance


This key involves learning how to make “loving ourselves”  more than a nice idea.  There are many tools and active practices that can be involved in “loving yourself.”  One is the idea of treating your inner child as you would an outer child who has been abused.  The extra care, kindness, gentleness and listening that would obviously be given to someone outside of ourselves should be given to ourselves.

So though there are many different ways to practice loving ourselves one of the most important shifts is to go from hearing the judging voice inside to being able to respond back to it with a voice of acceptance and compassion.

All the practices and efforts to looking at our less than positive patterns of thought and behavior is part of the all important path to soul.  And that is what assists you in doing what you are here to do.  Because if you don’t know all of you, and then be able to hold all of that with compassion and love, then you can’t really know your uniqueness.  You need this honoring for your lines of communication to open: to guide you where to go and where not to go, what to say yes to and what to say no to.  Otherwise you end up wasting your energies in places where you could be focusing on what leads you to a life that fits your true essence.

To practice self love could be seen as an act of re-parenting ourselves, since most in this culture have never truly experienced being parented in a truly healthy way with both loving boundaries and deep compassion.  With the increase in patriarchal or yang values, there has been a minimizing of yin values. One of the most important of these is the essential art of “connection” which has been lost and requires relearning.



If you were given a battered or ignored child to care for what would be the main steps you would take?

How can you translate those steps to re-parenting yourself?


Key 4) Learning the Fine Art of Surrender:

Being in the Unknown and Letting Go of Control


This key you could say is the more spiritual aspect of these 7 keys, which make up a whole path to our fully expressed, authentic and soul centered life.

There are two categories of surrender:

1) Being in the unknown.

This being OK with not knowing for however long you are required to not know – letting that empty space be there. That is where true creativity is born – out of the unknown. If it is always filled with something known then how can the new come in. This is about learning to allow that emptiness. That might also encompass not knowing an answer to something – to a problem, not only our own but especially for someone else. Don’t you just want to fix those problems for your friends! But we need to allow the process, their process. When we don’t, then they either get mad at us because we are not just being with their feelings, or we do something for them that only ends up sending them in a another direction and missing out on something they needed to experience. And then it all ends up costing you something – time, money, energy or even the friendship! Allowing that unknown space for them or ourselves is crucial.

2) Letting go of control.

This involves letting go of outcomes; such as demanding a person responds the way we want them to when we say something – that they should do or say what we want them to.  It is also about allowing life to do what it will do and learning how to flow when life throws a curve ball.  I know this is hard.  But when we “get” surrender, be it in our own lives or in relationship – this is when the struggle calms down.  It’s like a bullet goes through you instead of getting stuck in you.  The bullet that is the challenge in our life, can pass right through and not throw us, make us sick or crazed… as we often get when someone deeply pushes our buttons because they are not going our way with something, or not hearing us, or when life does something unexpected.  When we become permeable, that is, learn to surrender, then we can be less and less touched by these things.

Please understand, I am not saying it means don’t take action where some is due.  It is saying that the action will be taken in an entirely different and more effective manner when you are in a calm surrendered state.


How do you do “control” most often in your life?

Where or around what issue do you need to let go more in your life?


Key 5: Right Brain Integration

What the Nature Based Cultures Know


Being in all the details of survival, business and all the day to day tends to have us in our left brain.  As a culture on the whole, we spend most of our time there.

The indigenous or nature based cultures know a secret.  For centuries they have integrated into their daily life, movement/dance, voice/song, music, and other creatively expressive activities.

They understand how it balances the challenges of daily living, opens the mind to creative problem solving, fosters connections within the community, as well as brings health to the body and aliveness to the soul. And one of the distinguishing features is that these right brain activities were for all – regardless of skill level – all participated.  Some may be more talented than others but they all engage, and usually with the whole community.

Sadly, in our culture most fall into the category of either Performer or Spectator, which leaves most of the population considered only “good enough” to sit around and watch.  But the magic is that…The Healing and transformation is in the Participating! … whatever your skill level happens to be.

Stan Groff a well known neuroscience researcher and the creator of holotrophic breath work said “The being will gravitate toward healing and balance naturally when in an altered state.  This key talks about what can create that altered state naturally.

What fits into this category are activities that access your right brain.  It can be most anything singing, dancing, music making, writing creatively, gardening, theater, nature immersion, etc.

There are three distinguishing features to these acts.  1) You need to be participating, (watching has some benefit but not to the degree that participating does); 2) You are doing it for the shear enjoyment of it – not for some other goal, like you have to become great at this to prove something, (though you might in the process), or you have to make money from it (and you might  but the have to is not there), or lose weight from it…

3) You are totally immersed in the moment in it – ie lose track of time doing it… meaning you are totally present in it – and in the moment.

Another great benefit of adding these kinds of things to your life is that you find answers to challenging life questions with so much more clarity and assuredness.  Einstein said, “Solutions to our problems cannot come from the same mind that created them.”  This helps you access a different aspect or part of your brain, so that you can come forth with entirely different solutions than you might otherwise choose.

As I said you do not have to be “good”.  Just start, just find something – anything that interests you and begin it now – take a class, or return to it if you used to do it.  It is not necessary to have had any experience in it, only that it piques your interest.


When or how was I silenced… ie did someone cut off my expression of creativity?

What art form or right brain activity calls to me, speaks to me that I have not made time for?

What have I not returned to or never started because I thought I did not know how to do?


Key 6) Practices – Committing to physically or emotionally Healthy Routines

Regarding the Body, Mind, Psyche, or Behavior  

This key is about committing to some healthy practices: that are not over ambitious – that is, where the benefits outweigh the efforts.  Such as, walking in lovely places (nature trails, beach or park) biking, time spent  “just being” in nature, breathing exercises, meditation, yoga of a proper level of strenuousness;  changes in eating habits – eliminating those items one by one, that are commonly known to be detrimental to your health;  dropping life habits discovered in counseling like over caretaking.; Committing to specific Soul Craft practices chosen in Key 5.

It is this commitment to Practices, of the persons choosing (and they can change over time), that truly sets the ground for deep transformative change. Each person will choose and make some commitments in creatively expressive ways.  (and thereby more deeply anchoring their statement of commitment)  A practice can be regarding the body such as diet changes or exercise, the psyche, such as developing the witness to internal conversation or habit patterns, or making specific behavioral changes.


Key 7) Taking Risks

End Result – Developing a Foundation of Strength from Relationship of Trust with Self


The final outcome of integrating these keys is that you end up developing a relationship of trust with self.  This gives you a foundation, that gives you the strength, to develop the courage to take the Risk’s necessary to go for the changes your  inner self tells you to make.  That could be speaking your truth to someone, making a  major shift in how you live your life, letting something or someone go, going for a new form of creative expression, or taking a major leap of faith to go for a new lively hood or passion.   It is true, a person will not be able to take the risks necessary if they don’t have this inner strength and relationship of trust with self and spirit.


Once you have opened those lines of communication by; being willing to feel your feelings and emotions, and  have honored them by paying attention to them or perhaps taken an action motivated by them; have stood up to and transformed the critical voice; have extended love and acceptance to yourself in the place of harsh judgment; have let go of the need to control life by experimenting with trusting the flow of life more and allowing others to be who they are or do what they do even when it displeases you; have made a priority of spending time in nature or engaging in a creative endeavor on a more regular basis; once you have begun this process, in almost any order, something magical begins to happen.

The magic of more ease, more inner peace, ability to take risks—the risks necessary to bring about real life changes, and the magic of more authentic and satisfying relationships with people, as well as the incredible magic of health issues clearing up without even knowing what you did,  all of this magic begins to happen when you take the time, energy and focus to work on these previous keys.

You then feel that you cannot not do the thing, what ever it happens to be.  And now you have a platform from which to take your leaps of faith.  When you engage in this last key of actually taking the risks, that are now possible to take, you are magically transported to a new life; one that is healthier, more authentic, richer, more meaningful, vital and passionate.  It is not to say that life suddenly becomes pain free or with out its challenges, but feeling it all fully, and moving through life undefended or at least way less defended opens one to more joy, ease and fulfillment than could ever be believed possible.


What is my longing?….  What am I longing for that if I had the courage and inner trust I would take a risk and make a first step toward that?

Which of these 7 Keys would be best at this time for me to focus on first?