The Return of the ‘Hokey Pokey’

Most families have the standard stories that get rolled out at birthdays and other occasions about any given family member: the attempt at flying, sticking things up noses and in ears… In my case the most frequently told story was the ‘Hokey Pokey’.

‘Hokey Pokey’ is a children’s song where you stand in a circle and sing, “You put your left foot in… You put your left foot out… You put your left foot in and you shake it all about…” You would include different appendages until it was your whole body that was put into the circle.

The story goes that I was a master of the ‘Hokey Pokey’. I would play with a level of joy that was unrivalled, throwing my whole body into each rendition. However, at some point in my life I stopped. My parents could not work out why my joy and abandon were replaced with caution.

Over the past two years of Universal Medicine retreats, I have discovered not only why I stopped, but also why I loved it so much in the first place.

You see God – that dude that many of us struggle to define and relate to – is actually the ultimate playful being. Connect to this fact and any movement is joyful.

As children this connection is simple, so of course I would “put my whole self in,” because it was what I was truly doing. I was playing with all of me, uncaring about what others thought, simply enjoying the feeling of my own body’s movements.

BUT… people watching this got jealous, and as a child, feeling that jealousy projected towards me I was left with a choice – maybe not a conscious choice, but a choice nonetheless. I decided it was better to tone down the joy than have people reacting to me.

Of course in reality, I wasn’t causing their reaction but it is often common logic to take the responsibility for someone else’s reaction. The result was that I stopped doing the ‘Hokey Pokey’ and in the years that followed I became very shy, especially doing anything that involved ‘standing out’ and being ‘on stage’.

At last year’s Universal Medicine Retreat, we looked at how we change ourselves through not wanting to feel the jealousy of others.

At this year’s retreat, we considered the ways in which we avoid feeling our deep connection to life and others. We explored the potential that each person we meet holds and what it is like to feel this potential. We also looked at what it might be like to move as an adult with the same abandon and joy, without fear of the reactions of others.

Check out these three photos: one from the days of childhood, one from this year’s retreat and one in the middle somewhere.

Universal Medicine Retreat - Joel Levin on Joy Universal Medicine Retreat - Joel Levin (Before Universal Medicine) Universal Medicine Retreat - Joel Levin - After Universal Medicine

In essence, through my own choices, and the learning and inspiration from the retreats, I have learned to ‘Hokey Pokey’ once again (metaphorically speaking), to put my body into life and shake it all about, because that’s what it’s all about…

Joel Levin - 2016 Universal Medicine Retreat
Joel Levin – 2016 Universal Medicine Retreat

By Joel Levin (Western Australia)

Related Reading:
The Livingness before and afters
The Joy and Vitality of Living Life
Born to Sparkle


643 thoughts on “The Return of the ‘Hokey Pokey’

    1. Yes Mary, to see and feel the joy in the photo on the left of Joel , along with a more recent photo from the 2016 retreat, is indeed joyous.

  1. “You see God – that dude that many of us struggle to define and relate to – is actually the ultimate playful being. Connect to this fact and any movement is joyful.” God has been given such a bad rap in some religions and I agree that it couldn’t be further from the truth, as God is the source of the love and joy we come from. When I am touched by the Magic of God in how things play out in life it really shows the playfulness, joy and humour God has, it’s very beautiful.

    1. Joy is a very natural part of life when life is lived in the way that it was intended to be lived. The fact that so many of us not only don’t feel joy but also feel bored, agitated, frustrated, irritated, angry, fed up, annoyed, restless and basically totally brassed off is in itself a clear indication that we’re not living life in the way that it’s intended to be lived.

  2. How true, the reactions of others we make it ours and then we go into shut down mode, and we become someone/something else. If we all were able to keep that joy filled essence, by being nurtured and given the confirmation so we know it is innately within us always and from this knowing of who we are, life would be a different to place to live and be in.

  3. Our essence and the joy we felt as children remains within. However, with all the happens around us, we get to be masters at hiding it to such a point where we forget how to bring it back to life again. However, once we do remember that it was there, then to bring it back does no mean learning a new skill as such nor having to make a huge effort to read and study about joy and essence, but what it is about is to let go and allow it to come back into full expression.

    1. Once we know it is within us, we have to shed the things that don’t belong to us, which for some can be uncomfortable, and understandably so. And you know what? For me, It has simply been worth it. To know who we are, then pretending to be something we are not. It feels when we live from this, then life becomes more joy filled.

    2. True, Henrietta, as we can clearly see and feel Joel has done in his life, equally shown in his before and after photos.

  4. Joel, I love what you have shared and the pictures do say a 1000 words – the joy emanating from you as a child and what has now been brought back to life and expression again.

  5. I love how you describe God
    “You see God – that dude that many of us struggle to define and relate to – is actually the ultimate playful being. Connect to this fact and any movement is joyful.”
    We are sold, told and have been saturated by a belief that God is vengeful, angry, tyrannical, controlling etc., basically it’s all negative and that we have to subjugate ourselves to his will. This has been passed down through the generations by religious people who claim to know him through their religious studies. But what if those religious studies were totally incorrect? What then are we left with?
    Well I feel God is the total opposite of what we have allowed ourselves to believe, we have allowed ourselves to believe what we are told because then it takes away the responsibility to actually find out for ourselves who and what he means to us; we have lost our sense of curiosity to discover something that holds the key to life – how crazy is that!

  6. I love the fact that the serious Joel is sandwiched by the hokey pokey Joel because it illustrates that our playful essence has never gone anywhere, it is us that mask it as we react to life and what it presents.

  7. A very powerful example of how children, our children, feel everything and yet, unless we the adults understand the energetic interplay that is happening, we will not be able to build a bridge for their expression, and so we will have another human who doesn’t feel it is safe to express

    1. That is true cjames2012, if the adults don’t have the expression or relationship with energy in their bodies, then it is harder for them to support their children to express what they are feeling and build a bridge to their expression.

    2. Most of us have shut down to such an extent that we’re simply not able to consciously feel the energetic interplay of anything and so our poor kids, although they do have a choice to stay the delicate and beautiful beings that they are, feel an enormous amount of unseen and unspoken about pressure to twist and contort themselves into ways of being that are simply not in keeping with their true nature and this dreadful sequence of events is what’s deemed as ‘growing up’ for most.

  8. This show that the joy never leaves us, we leave joy. And when you return – as you have done so joyously – it is there waiting to explode from our bodies. To shake it all about.

  9. Playful blog, Joel ! That is true. I find it at times easy to seek for distraction away from being in the present in the moment, but I always feel that always makes you feel shorthanded afterwards.. that is where I am learning that it doesn’t pay to check-out from being in the moment !

  10. A great reflection of the difference between being connected with our innermost and when we are not, beautifully reflected in the three photos and so easy to see when you are holding back from being all that you are.

    1. What’s difficult is that most of us are holding back the enormity of who we are are so we don’t have any true reflections of what it’s like to not hold back. We have taken those who are ‘high achievers’ to be the ones who are not holding back but this isn’t true, ‘High achievers’ are a mis-formed representation of not holding back but because not holding back in truth has nothing to do with what we achieve and everything to do with the quality of who we’re being then those who stand out for their achievements are also those who are holding back the enormity of who they are.

  11. “put my whole self in,” A beautiful invitation to rejoin the circle and put our whole selves in and feel the natural joy of knowing who you are.

    1. So true Mary, “putting my whole self in’ could be used as a saying for life itself – how about if we “put our whole selves” into life with the joy in all its abundance with no fear and no matter for how others reacted? Something we all crave to do (unconsciously perhaps for some) as it is our natural way of being, and yet we do tend to struggle so much with this and find it hard to put into practice. Hence reading a blog such as the one Joel has written is very inspiring as it effortlessly re-ignites the same joy within us all – and then it is a choice for each of us to keep this going or to go back to keeping the lid on life and our expression.

    2. I would say that there are only a handful of adults worldwide who actually put their ‘whole selves in’, most of us offer others a very tiny portion of ourselves and more often than not that small section of us isn’t even the real us, it’s a doctored portion that we’ve manufactured for effect. More and more I am increasingly more able to put the whole lot of me on the table for full viewing and it feels fantastic, not because I am a super polished and perfect person, not at all, more because I’m happy to be seen and that includes what others would deem as my faults. There’s something incredibly freeing about being ok with anyone seeing anything about me, I don’t need to consider what it is that I’m ‘putting forward’ because it’s all on display all of the time.

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