Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Wonder of Play

- from my latest newsletter
Dear Yogis,

We've just returned from three great weekends of yoga and play: our annual Trinity River Retreat, a great workshop with Desiree Rumbaugh, and a super fun AcroYoga Intensive.

These events have sparked my intrigue about the spirit of play. What is it that makes an activity playful versus serious? Is it just the outer activity or is it how we approach the activity? I'm espec- ially interested in this now as I head from Summer into my more busy and focused season of Fall. How can I keep that playful spirit alive in these busier times?

I've definitely noticed I'm more likely to have fun when I'm with others, like in these Summer yoga events. It was a huge delight to use our bodies together in partner poses or celebrate each others explorations on the mat or in the river.

In the yoga teachings, play is known as lila, and it refers to the play of divine consciousness. The one big conscious energy (Shakti), freely and spontaneously creates all forms just for the play and the joy of it and ultimately, to know itself more fully. It plays by concealing and revealing itself to us like a cosmic game of hide- and-seek with the idea that each time there is revelation, there is greater knowing and greater wonder and joy.

And this sense of wonder or marvel (adbhuta), is an important ingredient in play. Young children model this perfectly when they get extremely fascinated in seemingly the most mundane things: an ant, a weed, a tire, a cloud. When we're in wonder, we're lighter and more expanded because we're free of attachment. The teachings tell us grown-ups to explore life in a similar way, like a big game; to remember emotions and situations are a play of energy that we can watch come and go with a sense of wonder and curiosity. When we can do this, we feel expanded and lighter, like when we play. It's when we get attached to our story as Me or My body or My beliefs, or My stuff, or how it Should be, that we get stuck in a state of contraction; life gets too serious and the wonder and lightness get lost.

So remembering to be curious, full of wonder, and free of attachments to outcome are keys to keeping life expansive and playful, even in serious times.

May your transition into Fall bring you great wonder and delight

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