Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lila, Divine Play

This is (late) Essay #30 of The 52 Essay Challenge, a series in which I write a new (unpolished, totally messy!) essay each week during 2017.

Play. This is what she, my teacher, offered. Lila, in the yoga world.

I’ve been having trouble lately, struggling with grounding myself. There are a lot of things going on. If you know me, you know that I tend to put too many things on my plate. I try to do it all because I want to do it all – not because there’s an expectation, but because there’s just so much I want to do! A friend once told me, “You really live life to the fullest.” If she meant that with regard to the number of crazy things I put on my plate, then yes, I do. But what about living life to the fullest in a way that you are present and fully engaged with what is happening in your life? What about being full in quiet moments, when nothing is happening at all?

I am too serious more often than I’d like to admit.

Also, I feel myself not wanting to write this essay. For what might be revealed about myself to myself. And to whomever is reading.

Which, of course, means that I must write it. Despite the fact that I really don’t know what it’s about… other than play. And my unconscious resistance to it.

Too often I forget to play. Too often I get caught up in dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s. Too often I draw lines and boxes and charts and try to manage life in this way. Organized. Orderly. Scheduled. I have control. And when I don’t have control, I tend to respond in dramatic ways. Forgetting that really, I never had control of anything to begin with.

There’s a man named Mahan Rishi – my soon-to-be Kundalini yoga teacher—who has said on more than one occasion: “Suffering is optional”. I take that to mean I should be less serious, that there are ways in which we can respond to our lives that do not create unnecessary and unbearable suffering. Which is not to say we can avoid suffering entirely, but maybe we can choose different ways to look at it.

Oh, that word: suffering.

There’s a lot of different ways I look at that word and I could go on and expound upon the various meanings and interpretations that range from the Buddhist understanding of the word to the Catholic one and the responses to how suffering shows up in my life, BUT! I will not. I will not go down that rabbit hole. Not today anyway.

I will say this much though: in all of my seriousness, I am hard on myself. About everything. My teacher gently pointed this out to me again today. I am trying to work on being friends with myself – to be more kind, more generous, more loving. It’s slow-going. The way I treat myself is definitely not the way I treat my friends. Why is that? Why do I think it’s okay to be harder on myself? I know the answer. I also know I’m not alone in this. And this is why I want to work on being friends with myself. To work on extending unconditional love for my very flawed self, insecurities and all.

And to play more often.

My teacher suggested that maybe sometimes it’s not about searching for meaning in every little thing. Maybe it’s just about being. Being in the present moment. To just be in it. To not attach meanings or story lines or opinions. To not push away feelings or ignore them or act on them or listen to whatever those feelings are saying. To just be.

And to play.

So, the real question is: how do I do that? How do I let go? At least enough to just play, to lighten up, to have fun with life?

In the yogic sense, lila is divine play. And so, in following Hindu traditions, to play means to create.

What shall I create today?

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