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


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

  1. This blog really allowed me to see how much I have let go of that natural playfulness that I have, but also to feel how even as a young child I was not really that joyful except for the times I was alone immersed in Nature or playing by myself, where it was easier to feel my connection to me and to God. Although, this reaction of withdrawal to the harshness of the world will never bring true joy or contentment, as we need each other to share this joy truthfully.

  2. Love it Joel, put your whole self in, commit in full to life and appreciate how everyday lights up with both new learnings and new beginnings.

  3. There is absolutely nothing like really committing yourself… Whether it be in something simple in your daily life, or for example in singing, or even, in the Hokey Pokey 🙂

  4. Everything in life feels naturally more simple, harmonious and joyful when we put our whole body in and do not hold back our true and playful expression.

  5. Life is all about living with purpose for the full potential of returning to the joy of knowing who we are in step with God.

  6. I just love watching children move with their whole body. The fluidity, the rhythm and vitality all make perfect sense and I can see and feel how at ease they are in their body and the effect this has on themselves and others. Like I am being touched by the magic of God.

  7. Awesome you connected back to ‘God, actually the ultimate playful being’, and are putting your whole body into life again with the ‘risk’ of people being jealous. If we all allow ourselves to feel the God’s we are, there wouldn’t be any jealousy.

  8. I just recently heard some wisdom about life and living in it, instead of withdrawing, shutting down and not committing. The key is to put everything into it i.e. participate and be part of all that life is. This will successfully give all that you need.

  9. Jealousy is a strong force that like Sauron’s eye in ‘The lord of the rings’ becomes very focussed on those who exhibit the pure delight of living their connection with God. It is one of the strongest forces that opposes us continuing to live the joy and fullness of who we are as kids. How inspiring to see the before and after photos and see the inner ‘hokey pokey’ back.

  10. “it is often common logic to take the responsibility for someone else’s reaction.” – I know I do it, I know other people do it. But reading this today didn’t make any sense to me…Why would I take on the responsibility of someone else reacting when that is their choice to do so?

  11. The ‘hokey-pokey’ is such a gorgeous analogy for commitment to life; for when we truly do commitment to life, life is fun.

  12. I find joy is one of the things that causes jealous reactions in adults more than most other things they see in kids. As adults we can see what we abandoned as kids and feel the resentment that a child is able to express it when we have lost this natural joy in life. This setup reminds me of how apprentices can be treated (bullying, initiations, made fun of etc), with the justification being that the older tradesmen went through it, so why shouldn’t the apprentice suffer as they did?

  13. Super cool Joel. You shaking it all about inspires the rest of us to shake off the dust that we can sometimes allow to settle on our shoulders, weighing us down like lead! Gosh, we get so serious and stiff sometimes don’t we? When we really look at it, we’re absolutely wasting time, time to be enjoying life and just having fun with it.

  14. Gorgeous example, gorgeous relevant picture displayed. A profound way of coming back to who you are and bring yourself into life in a way that is your natural expression, as we so dearly lost that! Gosh, every time I see a child I see often a playfulness that I am now thank God coming back to since I chosen for the Way of The Livingness and be a student of its teachings – from inside out. I discovered within myself this joy and playfullness again, that was still there, all I needed was a simple tool to come there.

  15. Jealousy is an ugly energy that paralyzes us when it is directed at us for the mere fact that we are being us and choosing to move with us. For someone who has chosen not to do this, our freedom to feel joy is simply too much. The reflection they get is totally unbearable. So, we are confronted with a choice: whether to continue because we honor us and how we feel or to stop to help them out to continue swimming in their misery with no reflection that disturbs them anymore. The problem with the second option, of course, is that we turn the light off in ourselves.

  16. Isn’t life so much more fun and joyful when we put our whole body in it and not leaving any part of ourselves out? From experience, the answer is, YES.

  17. When we tap into our inner playfulness we not only connect to God, but we also connect to the all. Our connection to joy is found in our movements and then this allows us to express our joy in any moment, so we can “hokey pokey,” to our hearts content.

  18. Jealousy feels horrible on the receiving end, and I’m sure many of us have toned down parts of ourselves so as not to be targeted, but what if the world needs a reflection of another way of living, of us being joyful, powerful, and loving?

  19. I love this sharing and reminder, ‘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’, time to let our playful and fun side come out again.

  20. “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.” Your photos say it all – the contrast is tangible. I love the hokey pokey analogy. Let’s all ‘put our whole selves in.’

  21. Jealousy is such an awful thing to feel, particularly as a child. However, discovering through Universal Medicine that our learnt protection from it is to suppress our true nature and connection with God is even more horrible. Realising this the hurt from the jealousy no longer has the power

  22. I sit here reading this and am amazed at how life has changed from my first experience of Universal Medicine at the retreat in 2011. Life is amazing and I’ve learnt that theres no need to hold back and not ‘shake it all about’ – shake off the misery and seriousness and feel the joy thats there underneath!

  23. Joel I look at you photos (not the one in the middle) but all I see and feel is joy and that committing to putting your whole whole body in and shaking it all about, brings that very joy.

  24. When we disconnect from ourselves and our inner joy we learn to adapt and live at the mercy of life being ever more cautious the more we allow ourselves to be affected by it. Returning to the natural joy and wholeness that we lived as children is possible the more we connect with our essence and express ourselves from our true quality of being.

  25. Joel, I love your pictures, and the smile from the retreat matches the same joy you were expressing as a child. I don’t see the same joy from the photo in the middle.

  26. What jealousy can do to our lives if we choose to let us effect us, is indeed profound. I have seen it as well in my life, where iI also was this “Hokey Pokey” boy, who chose to withdraw from life.

  27. A lovely playful blog full of wisdom – there is indeed true joy when we commit to life and express our all.

  28. What a gorgeous story of returning to the joy you had as a child. When you talked about God being so playful and how kids naturally have that same playfulness as they are literally living in union with God, it made me realise how natural religion (our relationship with God) is. Kids don’t get embarrassed, deny or hide the fact that they are in the sandpit with God. Why would you when this is our nature? It’s only when we feel the false versions of religions and judgment from others that we question or doubt this.

  29. Oh the pure joy of it all!!!Thank you for sharing Joel I can feel the joy dripping off the page and the photos say it all!

  30. Yes great inspiration Joel. I am throwing myself into life more and more as I did as a child. I was throwing myself into life for a long time, but that was more based on missions, ideals and dreams, with no true playfulness leading to pursued peeks and holes where I came tumbling down in.

  31. I am feeling the joy Joel, what a blessing. I love being playful and have noticed that even in my own home it presses buttons because at school you simply do not make a ‘fool’ of yourself. School squashes so much of our playfulness. I can see it is my duty to keep that playfulness rolling though now! Thanks for the reminder Joel.

  32. I realised recently how after moving to Europe the spark of joy and ease and openness towards simply laughing and having a bit of fun was somewhat reduced and it actually feels less ease here to naturally express this way! I did not realise just how much I have adjusted my expression to what I feel from others around which was a lot more than in New Zealand. The choice to dull may be subconscious but it is definitely a choice nonetheless. A choice we can change at any moment.

  33. Love it Joel, you certainly do put your body into life and ‘shake it all about’. The freedom of movement and joy just in your photos (young and most recent) captures exactly that.

  34. Jealousy is a veritable kill joy and destroyer, especially of children’s innocence and very natural exuberance and boundless vitality and playfulness.

  35. Wow Joel, your photo’s say it all. You have the same joy-full radiance now as you did as a child. An incredible inspiration to see that throwing our whole body joy-fully back into life is true medicine.

    1. I agree Kim, the most recent adult photo is very like the photo of Joel as a boy. This is something we give up on living as adults, the joy and exuberance we felt as children. As Joel shows, it’s actually very possible with the support of Universal Medicine.

  36. It’s amazing how we abandon our natural selves in order to not rock the boat. But understandable too, for jealously from others can be very difficult to withstand, especially when it comes from people we think or expect should love us unconditionally. So, mastering being OK with what triggers others into a jealous reaction needs to be high on the personal development agenda!

  37. In this most recent photo of you Joel you can feel your joy and lightness shining through – how powerful is it to live in the world unaffected by the jealousy and attack from others and to reflect true love and brotherhood with our every movement.

  38. You can feel your re-commitment to life Joel. All in for whatever the universe has to offer. Like with children its a beautiful quality that is hard to resist. We know from our friends, colleagues, and those around us who is still up for it, and who has withdrawn to a safe place and tempered their expression of who they naturally are. Yet we always carry it with us, and the choice to reconnect is never lost – always just a step away (be that the left foot in or the right foot in!).

  39. Thanks Joel… It is possible to have that sense of fun and innate joy in our movement even as we get older… It is possible to restore that innocence, that sense of just simply enjoying ourselves move… And when we do it is the most wonderful feeling

  40. It is too easy and comfortable to stay in one place – put life in the old body and shake that grace out for all to see.

  41. The key to our relationship with God is this: ‘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.’
    And a killer of a sentence of truth is: ‘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’
    You just offered us the keys to change our lives forever.

  42. Joel the photos really highlight what you have shared. The same cheeky ‘Im all in’ smile is evident in the photo of you as a child and the one now. The one somewhere in between is completely different – withdrawn from life, hiding and not offering you. Learning about jealousy and what it is and what it means for us as people and how to deal with it when we feel it has been one of the best things that I have learned in this life.

  43. I realise the more people on earth that are living and feeling joyful, it becomes easier for everyone else to reconnect to it too. This shows how interconnected we are and how we affect each other through our choices and movements much more than we realise.

  44. It is quite shocking to consider how much we deform ourselves in order to not feel jealousy. Jealousy is an evil force that serves only to diminish the brilliance of our connection to our divinity, and how our appreciation of this in ourselves and others confirms our purpose here to grow, learn, flourish and inspire each-other to evolve so we can live the joy of being all that are, in true Brotherhood.

  45. Having got back from this year’s retreat in the UK it was cool to get a reminder of the past two. Whereby there were presentations based around the fact that eventually jealousy will not be the terror that it can be/is today that we all try to avoid. And that we are supported by many ways in life to do the Hokey Pokey, to be light and playful without hesitation. This future can be lived today and I feel this occurs when we take that ‘risk’ and re-introduce playful, silly, light-hearted moments into our lives.

  46. Enjoying and engaging in life with our whole body is possible the more we let go of the caution and seriousness we take on in calculating how much of our expression is ok to be seen and openly express from our inner heart.

  47. And what an evolution to see the beautiful and tender man that writes so playfully and so elegantly, building bridges that anyone can simple walk over on the way back to their own hearts.

    1. Love it Chris, such a profound statement that hold water and can keep us all afloat. Could it be we forget about the bridges and life saving buoys because in the current of life we either sink or swim under our own way of play Hokey-Pokey. So as Joel has so simply shared by producing photos in which it is plainly apparent he is swimming again within the divine Light of his Inner-Most Heart.

  48. Very cute Joel – this is a really lovely sharing of what it is to be our full selves. SO many times I have held back my fulness because I am scared of what others think – but the truth is – I am just playing a game with myself to not be all of me and find an excuse in others to justify this.

  49. I drop into the pattern of taking the responsibility of other people’s actions as well, but when I truly stop and ask myself, why would I question myself before I question others? Having a level of appreciation, trust and love for myself, I know where I come from and what my essence is, and therefore when I sense another’s reactions and responses now, it is much easier to be light hearted, observe and ask why they are having this reaction, knowing we are actually all equal in playfulness as God, and why wouldn’t we want to show this with each other?

  50. It feels simply amazing to re-connect to our body in every movement and feel the absolute joy, lightness and freedom to simply be ourselves in full. Very cool indeed thank you Joel.

  51. Wow. The guy in the middle looks and feels so different. I would not recognise him as you, Joel. I kind of don’t really want to say say ‘joy has always been there within and never lost’ because that feels like it is a given (although it is in truth) that you re-connected to your true essence, but it is a miracle, not by luck – but by choice.

  52. I have to be truly grateful to my daughter as she makes me realise how serious and lacking in the joy of life I can be sometimes, getting caught up in life. Sometimes when I see her laugh so open and unrestricted and be so excited about things or events coming up it just brings up the hokey pokey in me as well something I also lost but is on the come back.

  53. Joel the way you write is so up lifting and joyful, thank you reminding us that the joy lies within us, its up to us to play the hokey pokey and put our whole body in, shake it all about and express with full joy.

  54. Much the way you returned to the Hokey Pokey, I very much enjoy returning to this blog. It is a very joyful piece to feel.

  55. Your writing always puts a smile on my face… whilst also highlighting a truth… in how we have all chosen to not do the hokey pokey in life and have settled for a much more measured version of putting our whole self in according to how much of ourselves we are willing to express and be seen doing so. It’s a great analogy and a great reminder of the joy we are missing out on from choosing this.

  56. Joel love the 2016 photo of you – gives me joy just looking at it… even though I don’t need any reason to feel joy because it is who and what I am.

  57. I too allowed myself to let go of my joy and become less and less due to the jealousy of others and then wondered why I was depressed for so much of my teenage and twenties. Thanks to the immensely joyful and loving reflection of Serge Benhayon I have regained my joy and thanks to Serge’s teachings on jealousy I have grown to understand the mechanism of jealousy and when it is expressed towards me I take it as a confirmation of my awesomeness!

  58. In absolute honesty I feel that I still have a way to go with putting my whole body into the Livingness. Maybe as a child I held back playing the hokey pokey? Anyway I enjoy life and to the best of my ability so that as a student of The Livingness I always put my best foot forward and shake it all about.

    1. ha ha Greg that is gorgeous and knowing you I certainly agree you put your best foot forward and bring a lot of joy to many, many people. Great point you make because although I feel a lot of joy, there is still further I can go with allowing it to be a whole body expression.

  59. I can feel the joy and playfulness in your blog Joel. I absolutely love what you’ve shared, it reminds me to let go of the worries of what people might think or how they might react and to simply move with absolute joy that is busting to be expressed.

  60. The most powerful way to heal jealousy is to stand in its wrath and fury with your heart open and beaming. When we do that, jealousy has nowhere to turn but in towards itself.

    1. Love what you share here Katerina. In the past I have often lessened myself and my activities because of other peoples jealousy, this way no one gets that amazing expansive feeling nor feels the power and glory that we can bring. Standing tall, even when others may be resenting one for it, is to keep up the shining and magic in life.

      1. Elaine yes we need to keep bringing all of us shining our light and amazing-ness, Sure others may react or get jealous but soon our love and light would be felt, the magic and the glory we bring will melt them.

  61. This is a very relatable blog Joel as I am sure many of us abandoned our ‘hokey pokey’ in the past to fit in and to avoid reactions from others. Thanks to the Universal Medicine retreats and courses on offer yourself and many others are also learning to re-connect back to this playfulness and joy we once felt as children and are celebrating and making this our new ‘normal’.

  62. I have certainly felt I am responsible for other peoples reactions in the past – but Joel you bring such simplicity here in saying that it isn’t the case – we can only live and present who we are and if people react then they have a responsibility to look at why that is the case. Otherwise we get into this self inflicted cycle of playing small just in case. And what is the point in that?

  63. ‘uncaring about what others thought” this is something I, and I feel many people need to work on.I tone down my movements around people. I see this start from a very young age at school. When kids start school, for the vast majority it is not there, I would say around p4 ( age 8 or 9) this begins to start, when many kids, I would say 99% become cautious, and actually change.

  64. ‘But life is SERIOUS right? Isn’t that the reality? I mean it’s everything I see around and about me’. For anyone who’s ever experimented with letting this view go and doing a jig of delight, flashing a brilliant smile or just walking jauntily along, they will know that as you show Joel that life is actually big fun and made for us to know joy in every step. The rest is just a bunch of junk, distracting noise not worth consideration. The fact is we are sons of God, not tortured, faulty and flawed. All we need to do is live the playful way we should.

  65. ‘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…’ Which is quite symbolic of putting in our whole self in our commitment to everyday life to shake up the status quo and clear away any mess we have created. Great blog Joel.

  66. Its great that Universal Medicine has exposed jealousy for how evil it actually is and that so many of us shut down because of it without actually being aware of why. Thank you Joel for sharing this as well so we can be more aware and get back to the playfulness that we are naturally meant to be from.

  67. How many of us have toned down our natural joy and appreciation of ourselves simply because we have chosen to cringe when we have felt anothers jealousy or reaction to us. What is worse is how much do we ourselves and others miss out on because of this dulling?

  68. Previously, I have taken responsibility in my life for everything that happened in and around me. If I felt something change in a relationship where a person separated from me e.g because of jealousy, envy or competition etc, I immediately accepted that I had done something wrong and so I then held back (I stopped doing the Hokey Pokey and putting my whole body in) in order to make it better or easier for the other person to return to relationship or connection with me. These behaviours impact life and put a lid on the joyful, playful and Divine beings we are. It feels amazing to be uncovering these sinister patterns and opening to our innate Divinity

  69. What a great and vibrant boy you where Joel and to see it all pouring out of you again is a double joy to see and feel.

  70. I hate feeling jealousy – I’ve not let myself feel it in full, but it’s definitely something I am working on, to not react and not need to be liked by people, to accept the fact that people especially women are jealous not of me, but the choices I am making in my life to love myself. This is key, to learn to not take it personally. But I definitely hold back and drop my joy to not stand out.

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