Theme of the Month: Playfulness
by Kevin Sahaj
At the end of the year, we asked our students to share their intentions, questions, and needs for the upcoming year with us. Out of these intentions, we shaped 12 themes to guide our community throughout 2021. We invite you to join our online Monthly Satsang and online Ayurveda Sangha for more inspiration, connection, and spiritual direction.
“Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.”
Have you ever noticed something very interesting: when we are full of humour and not taking things seriously, life seems to flow with ease and problems are no longer problems? Have you also noticed when everything seems serious and we take ourselves seriously, then life feels claustrophobic and small and we feel contracted and miserable? So the big question is: why do we take life so seriously, and why do we take ourselves so seriously when it is so obviously painful to do so?
If you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans
In our modern world, we are taught that we need to succeed, we need to accomplish, we need to get it all right, and hopefully, everything will be perfect and secure. And yet, as we know, this never happens for very long. Life has its own way of tripping us so that we always end up splatting face down in the mud and wondering why our lives are not going the way planned. There is a saying that if you want to make God laugh tell her your plans! And yet we stubbornly persist in trying to bend the entire universe to our small desires and hope our dislikes will disappear. When the universe fails to meet our expectations, then we suffer. Life has its own idea of how to flow in freedom - with or without our approval. In a sense, our obsession with security has taken away our freedom, which is just another word for playfulness.
We also often take our yoga practice seriously, thinking that we are getting somewhere or that we are somebody special. We even meditate thinking, "One day, if I practice hard enough, I will become enlightened like the Buddha." We have fallen into the spiritual seriousness trap, and from this trap, there is only one way out - playfulness.
In most spiritual traditions around the world, there exists a divine character known as “the Trickster”. His job is to turn everything upside down and play a joke on all of us. In some Native American traditions, he is a coyote, sometimes a rabbit, or a raven, and wherever he shows up things are bound to fall apart in a playful way. So there is a divine Trickster in operation all the time in our lives. Just when we think we have it together, along he comes and makes the whole thing absurd!
The Trickster is the fool to topple the serious, the joker, the destroyer of programs to refresh fixations of the mind into the unknowable mystery and the divine madness free from all constraints. This force is alive in the world and in each one of us. We can connect to it in every moment. One modern example of the trickster is the cartoon character Bugs Bunny.
What happened to our playfulness, and when did we lose it? Is it possible to be playful with life and not take things so seriously? Can we laugh at ourselves and release the tension of seriousness that binds us to suffering? Yes, it is possible to treat everything lightly, playfully and with a sense of humour. All it takes is a willingness to let go of our fixations, false pride and just laugh at the absurdity of taking things seriously.
History is full of people who took themselves very seriously, and where are they now? What in this world is so important if it is all passing so quickly, and in the end, nobody remembers our accomplishments or our failures? Life is a celebration and a joy, even suffering has its place and can be seen with a light heart and humour. Lightheartedness, humour, and playfulness are what I believe is at the heart of spiritual practice.
How we can be more playful in our lives?
It really is just a very simple shift of attitude, no huge effort is needed - and in fact, effort will get in the way. All we need to do when we notice we are taking things or ourselves really seriously is stop for a moment and ask the simple question to our heart: “Is it really so serious that the whole universe needs to stop and listen? How can I see the humour in this?”
There is humour and light in EVERY situation, even in the worst circumstances, you can be light hearted. It is just a question of the willingness to let go of the heavy fixation and grasping. If you do this practice of having a light-heart, life will become much more fun and magical. We will become more childlike and playful. Just let go and have a laugh!
May your life become a big joke!
“It is just a way of living! Take laughing as a way of living. Exist as laughter, You will be absolutely nonserious. It may be that you will not be able to achieve anything, but what is the meaning of achievement? Even one who achieves—what does he achieve? Even when achieving, nothing is achieved…. This I call a religious mind: nonserious, playful, innocent—without any struggle.”
“EEEH….whats up doc?”
Theme of the Month Special Classes
In addition to the Theme of the Month article we also bring the theme to our Monthly Satsang for Delight Sangha Special Class guided by Satya & Sahaj and our Monthly Ayurveda for Delight Sangha Special Class Guided by Victoria Raven Hyndman. A spiritual community (sangha) is very important to feel connected and supported, particularly when we are going through more challenging times, individually and collectively.
Coming up this Month:
Thursday 1 April 16:00 - 17:00 Ayurveda for Delight Sangha
Friday 11 April 16:00 - 17:00 Satsang for Delight Sangha
Kevin Sahaj is a dedicated yoga practitioner who has been studying and practicing yoga for 30 years. His approach to teaching is eclectic and draws from many different methods and teachings to help students align their lives towards awakening.