You can't be serious: what it takes to be lighthearted

I have a new passion: talking about creating a new school of yoga. I tell whoever will listen (students in my classes, because they have no choice) that I’m exploring the potentialities of styles such as: Spa Yoga, Props Are Awesome Yoga, Whatever Yoga and Clapping Yoga.

I get really silly when I teach.  I also get really serious with reminders like “be patient with yourself” and “enjoy everything in moderation”. Moderation is key for me in life – including with the ups and downs and the ins and outs of my job. I’m slowly learning how to be lighthearted with it all.  I don’t want to say I’ve found a sweet little rhythm or groove because whenever I believe or vocalize that I have something down to a hunch, it backfires and blows up in my face.   

Sadly, amidst the search for lightness, I undergo moments of regret at how much fun work is for me. I try to remain impartial to it but this dark voice within cries disbelief at my new pattern of light thinking and being. It wants to dig deep into my damaged psyche and discover what all this humour is really about. “Is this a coping skill so I don’t have to face anxieties and insecurities about not being good enough?” “Can I pretend that I don’t have insecurities to the point that they actually do disappear?” I wonder…

And I pause and listen to my inner rational voice: “this is the work, listen to all the voices and stay with the ones that enhance your relationships. It’s a hard and confusing practice- shifting thoughts and perspectives”. Training the mind is tedious, interesting, surprising and not funny at all. It is indescribable at best, but I will try to get to the bottom of it here.

Pema Chodron lectures that the Buddhist practice of training the mind to be present rests on these key concepts: gentleness, patience and a sense of humour. When I heard her say this a couple weeks ago, a weight lifted from my conscience.  She further emphasizes the stages of practice being: breath awareness, relaxing the body and humour. Phew.

But if a humourous perspective towards oneself is acceptable then why do I question it so thoroughly?  The short of it is – I cannot fake it til I make it.  What comes out of my mouth in class is absolutely a reflection of what lies in my heart at any given time. I do not pretend to be somewhere different than where I am on this winding road. I do not hide or deny my process. Therefore, I must reflect upon why using humour sometimes make me feel uneasy. I must remember that the reason I love my job so dearly is due to the questions it propels and eventually more lighthearted responses. Humour is perhaps my easy way out of various situations.  The words come out before I can even stop myself and I realize where the dis ease arises from: using humour in spite of others has been an unfair tactic I used in the past to make myself feel better, to prevent myself from getting hurt. 

"Keep calm and carry on" does not provide the support or motivation for me to look within. So I go deeper to find out how I can embrace a different kind of humour now.

2 things stand out when I turn the lens on my use of humour:

1 – I don’t like humour that is harsh or aggressive anymore. I aim to put myself in others’ shoes and contemplate what style of humour is appropriate and if it’s from a heart-centered place.  Whenever I speak and think from the heart, it inspires me to keep my whole vessel clearer and purer.

2 – I am having a blast. Not only is teaching a sweet platform to test the results of pieces of my spiritual practice, I see brighter lights all around me, in all the dedicated yogis I get to see often. I see a personal shift with my contemplation and transition towards not taking circumstances too seriously and I feel shifts in others also. There is a presence. There is honesty. It’s all I could ever hope for.

Of course the lows remain and some dark holes are heartbreaking to trudge through (like this one) but that’s just how it is.

We only show a piece of ourselves to the outer world and perhaps part of me wants to justify what you see of me from time to time. It is so strange that you see so much of me. It’s also odd that in the midst of being seen, I gravitate towards more openness and honesty; rather than old tendencies of hiding behind unkindness –because it isn’t in line with my heart anymore. My mind overpowers sometimes to say how odd this new approach is, but my gut is so excited about a new path, a new way to respond.

And perhaps I also want to express deep humility towards everyone in this strange and wonderful little community.

Thank you for meeting me and for supporting me. It is not in doing peak poses that makes you strong or feel mentally stronger – it’s simply in being you, being honest, inquiring into who you are and sharing it with the world. All jokes aside – what are we waiting for? How many times must we go to the place of “Am I okay? Am I good enough? Am I accepted?” until we greet ourselves with a light joke and the impetus to change?

“eventually things get tragic enough and they circle back to comedy” 


Posted on October 22, 2014 and filed under …musings....