By Myra Lewin
As I write this, I am in Vietnam listening to a beautiful symphony of frogs, crickets, waterfalls and who knows what else.
Listening to this song outside my hotel room is a good reminder of how much I enjoy traveling. But over the past few decades, as I made spiritual growth my main priority, the way I travelled began to change. I still love visiting new places, but I don’t spend my time running from one activity to the next or eating big meals in fine restaurants. These days, I bring my spiritual practices with me (along with a small rice cooker for hotel room kitchadi) and enjoy the wonder of being surrounded by new sights, sounds and experiences. Gone are the days when I ended my vacations so exhausted that the only way I could feel better was by planning the next one. Now, I come home filled with more energy and a deeper connection to my path.
What I have learned as a traveler and a student of Ayurveda and Yoga is that when we chase fun, we never catch it. Chasing something is rajasic, meaning it is activity leading to disturbance. Too much rajas is a sign that you are looking for something on the outside that exists inside. When you slow down, cultivate a daily spiritual practice and experience the sattva, or balance and harmony, that comes with it, you can tap into an endless feeling of joy from within. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world or what you are doing, you can have fun because you see the divine light in each person, place and thing, including yourself.
A more fulfilling kind of fun
Ayurveda is called “the science of life” because it teaches us how to thrive in our bodies. Yet when faced with its wisdom about how to eat and how to live, those who are used to indulging in short-term pleasures often see Ayurveda as a set of rules. All the things they think are fun (like eating a big piece of cake or staying up late) are on the “don’t” side. The “do” side seems shorter and a lot less intriguing.
But, in fact, Ayurveda has no rules. That is a modern interpretation that oversimplifies this vast and intricate science. All Ayurveda suggests is that you to listen to what your body and mind naturally want and do more of those things. When you honor that, you’ll experience a stronger sense of who you really are. This puts you in touch with how you want to experience life with depth and meaning. When you know who you are and what you want, suddenly the “do” list becomes limitless and deeply fulfilling.
Call in joy at any moment
If you’re not able to call in joy at any moment, it may be time to reevaluate how you define fun.
One of the best ways to understand how to have fun in a sattvic way is to watch young children at play. They easily express who they are. The only purpose to their activities is to explore their world. And they don’t care who is watching while they do it.
Your natural way of being is playful and joyous, just like young children. Get in touch with your inner child with our pose of the month, garbhapindasana (embryo pose). As you rock back and forth on your spine, you’ll rebirth yourself anew and rediscover the wonder of being alive.
Maybe when you go within and find out how you truly want to express yourself, you’ll find that fun is simpler than you had previously imagined. It can come from jumping into a river or stepping out into a summer storm to feel the cool rain on your face. Or it can come from getting creative with how you use Ayurvedic spices, or walking barefoot in the mud just to feel it slide between your toes.
What brings fun and joy into your life? For me, it is cooking, teaching, my morning practices and my dogs. But mostly, it’s an attitude I bring to anything I do. Even a simple walk after lunch is fun when I see everything on my path with fresh eyes.
If you’re looking for the kind of fun that brings you closer to your true self, here are some ideas to consider:
No matter what you do -- whether it is on a meditation pillow or in the world beyond -- be playful. If you find that you are taking yourself too seriously, smile to yourself and find the lightness of life.