When Crap Happens: Play with it!


Creative Commons License photo credit: twm1340

Yoga Modern is spotlighting the 2nd Annual Divine Play AcroYoga Festival,

October 7-11, 2011!  

Picture this: a young man on a beach, in a headstand, for about five minutes. Sounds fun, playful, right? Now, re-create that image. See him right at the shoreline, the waves are breaking. He is facing the ocean. Each time the waves come in, they cover his head, it is completely subsumed, water up the nostrils and all.

This was my first exposure to Acroyoga, on the beach at Maya Tulum. My response was muddled. I was delighted, but having nearly drowned in an undertow when I was a little girl, it also triggered some fear. Whoa, fear. Wait…fun! I couldn’t make sense of feeling delight and playfulness in something that terrified me.

Fortunately, I was there with my teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker. I recalled a time he deftly maneuvered a class into a bound balancing pose, holding us there a long time. A really long time. As he stood on his own two feet, he told us not to worry, that any challenge we were sensing was “just a game.” It was all “a divine play of the universe,” what is known in yoga as “lila.”

From holding a particularly intense yoga pose, all the way up to the “really big questions of life and death, creation and evolution,” I’m going to take a bite into this lila stuff.

Beth Lapides, Photo credit: The Desert Sun

“With people like Michele Bachmann in the world, can you really figure anything out?”

Kelly Carlin posed this rhetorical question about the sublimely conservative Republican presidential candidate during her weekly radio program recently. In the course of her chitta-chat with Beth Lapides, they answer that devil (her word, not mine!) of a question oh, so divinely. Make that, playfully. Make that divinely-playfully.

Righhhht… it’s only a game. Maybe the game comes into our worldview when we allow ourselves to be content with being 100% Happy, 88% of the time, muses Lapides. No matter what the pain, she says, find a way to make it funny. Laugh about it. Sure, easy for a professional spiritual comedienne to say, “it’s about the fact [the lila] that most of us don’t like change, but you have to change to be happy.”

How does Lapides cope with the things that scare her? She turns them into material for her performance. It becomes her “play,” so to speak. She sees things like being evicted (yes, she was, it’s a long and humorous story coming out of her mouth) as cosmic signs, signs that come into our life to tell us (the hell with) something. Beth presents, on stage, the things that try to scare the crap out of her.

“It may be scary, but you don’t want to lose the momentum.  You do the performance that your head will explode if you don’t do it. The things that make you say, ‘I’ve got to do this.’”

Yes, we can find the laugh in Michele Bachmann. But how can we see the divine play of the universe in being evicted? In being fired?

Pssst… here is a trick for starring in your divine play, rather than waiting in the wings:

When you step onto the stage of lila, you have a choice. You can drag yourself across the stage like you have been mixing Quaaludes with alcohol, or you can step into the universal spotlight like a great diva.

Darren Main

Creative Commons License photo credit: obscure allusion

So, there you are, standing toe-to-toe with “God playing dice with the universe.” I suspect, seeing as how you are alive and reading this right now, that something has harshed your mellow a time or two. 

What does divine play mean to you?

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Barbra Brady is the Art Editor at Yoga Modern. She holds an MA in Museum Exhibition Theory & Cultural Studies, which she has exercised as a museum curator of contemporary art, nationally published writer, leader of a venerated nonprofit yoga retreat foundation, and now, yoga with a slant on channeling creative energy. When not practicing or teaching yoga in the tradition of her teacher, Yogarupa Rod Stryker (as a Certified Level IParaYoga teacher) or as an iRest Yoga Nidra practitioner, Barbra practices the yoga of “curiosity.” The curiosity that fuels her imagination may be through writing, curating, a turn of leaf or phrase, cinema, a century ride on her road bike… She’ll be sharing her curatorial picks and original musings, as she whispers in the ear of the Yoga Modern community: “Hey, look at this!” She lives in Sonoma, California, an Eden which naturally prompts her reflections on nature, food, and yes, wine (in meaningful moderation).

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