~ awake in this moment, at home in the world ~

Lighten Up!

January 21, 2013
I am blessed with a five-year-old son who knows he can bring a smile to anyone's face with a little jig and a silly song. When he launches into song-and-dance mode, his eyebrows rise, his blue eyes squint nearly shut, and an impish smile fills his face. He grows light as air, and he bounces right and left, with his arms and legs swinging akimbo in an endearingly awkward dance. If he's really flying high, he'll even add a little operatic aria to the mix.

It's impossible not to smile when you witness this. It's impossible not to feel your heart rise up in sheer joy. Somehow this small antic has the power to light up the whole world. No matter how sad, how mad, how frustrated you are, when he dances the whole world begins to sing.

Most days, it seems, by the time I stumble to my yoga mat, my body feels wound three inches too tight and my nerves feel singed. I lie down with a life that feels shrouded in complexity and trouble, anxiety and fear. Life feels heavy and dark. Rocks abound.

And then the memory of my little entertainer bubbles through my body, and something softens inside. I compare my heaviness to his brightness, and I wonder which of us is more enlightened. A glimmer of wisdom bubbles up from within that tells me that life doesn't have to be so complicated, and that I have a choice about how heavily I bear the ingredients of my being. I have a choice about whether to trudge through life as if it were a burden, or to sing and dance as if the whole thing were nothing more than divine play.

Is it possible that life isn't as complicated as we tend to make it? Is it possible that the knots we find within us are largely of our own making? Is it possible that with a small shift in attitude, our lives may change from agony to ease, and from heaviness to light?
My son suggests the answer is yes.

Perhaps the next time you settle onto your mat, you might consider the possibility of lightening up. Perhaps you could dedicate your practice to returning to the basics, to holding fast to what you love and then letting the rest slip away. In other words, try practicing no-big-deal-asana, or maybe on occasion just get-over-it-asana. Shake up your practice, shake your struggles out. Slip and slide until you feel smoothness returning. Be big when you need to, and be quiet when the urge strikes.

Are there postures that bring a smile? Are there ones that make you laugh? Are there impossible poses - like arm balances - that make you laugh when you fall? Give them a try. Remember that even the poses themselves are no big deal.

Be light. Be free. Drop everything inessential about you. Return to the heart of your life, which of course is always love. Remember who you are and what you want your life to be about. And then let the rest go.

Who are you, in the end? Are you a tired and grumbly soul, bracing yourself against every breeze that comes your way? Of course not! You are a bright and beautiful child of the universe, filled with softness and insight and divine light.

Maybe, like my son, you even have a little song and dance inside of you. Give it a try. Your lightness and freedom, your willingness to let go of what needs to be gone, your own shining soul will bring light and love, like a gift on wings, to everyone around you. And in this way, together we will lighten up the whole wide world.