Inspiring health and happiness in body, mind and spirit

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 be power to light up the whole world. No matter how sad, how mad, how frustrated you are, when he dances, the world begins to sing.

Most days, it seems, by the time I stumble to my yoga mat, my body feels wound two inches too tight, and my nerves feel singed. I lie down in 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, which of us is more free. A glimmer of wisdom bubbles up from within that tells me that life doesn't actually have to be so complicated, and that I have a choice about how heavily I bear the ingredients of my life. I have a choice about whether to trudge through life as if it were a burden, or whether to sing and dance.

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 life may change from agony to ease, from heaviness to light? My son suggests the answer is yes.

And so maybe the next time you settle onto you mat, you could consider the possibility of lightening up. Perhaps you could dedicate your practice to returning to the basics, to putting it all into perspective, to holding fast to what is truly dear and 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 quiet when you feel ready.

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  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 wind that comes your way? Of course not! You're a bright and beautiful animal, filled with softness and insight and love.

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 life a gift on wings to everyone around you. Maybe even to the whole wide world.