Rediscovering Pleasure in Summertime

June 26, 2016

Summertime is a time to be fully awake, to let our senses come alive to all the offerings laid out before us.   Our skin glows from the warm bosom of the Sun, driving with windows down we feel Breeze run her fingers through our hair, sweet smells of cut grass and honeysuckle intermingle in an exotic perfume that romances us to drive farther chasing sunsets, the sound of cicadas and midnight peepers lullabying us to sleep. Oh, how I love this time of year.

As I child I lost myself in the endless days and fed my senses well on the bounties of Summer. However as an adult, the grand entrance of Summer causes a stomach curdling mixture of excitement and panic.   The adult understanding of impermanence hangs heavy with responsibilities of work and endless goals and to-do lists.

Even now, it is a Sunday late morning as I write this. The weather is exquisite and whispering to me to come play. My gut is a maelstrom of stressed emotions. The sense of urgency to tackle the necessary items that will propel me in the direction of my dreams calls to me at the same time the presence of Nature raps on my window to come outside before the leaves begin to turn again. This balance of work and play are more challenging than any yoga pose I’ve ever attempted.

I get so jittery as each day passes and I have yet to be in the fragrant woods or baptized myself in warming waters. The quickness of Spring green deepening to the shadowy greens of Summer is a sign that life is passing too quickly by.

I recently returned from training with my teacher and through several days of meditation and self-examination I had the realization that my life was greatly out of balance. According to the yoga tradition, in order for us to live to our highest potential we must find balance in all areas of our lives–in our desires that are inspired by our soul. These four desires are Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha.

To keep the definitions short, dharma is the individual soul’s innate and unique mission and purpose for this life.  Artha, in the most basic sense, refers to the material resources we need in order to fulfill our dharma, including money, food, shelter and health. Kama is pleasure, and not just the common interpretation of sensuality and lust, but the deeper understanding that we need to feel pleasure of all kinds including close friendships, beauty, Nature, art, music, and fun. Moksha is the longing for liberation and true freedom and lasting peace.

Together these desires are what compel us to realize our full potential. And they need to be in balance. Going into the training I was certain I’d be guided more deeply onto my dharmic path, because that has been my focus, Dharma (and Moksha), continuously for years. However, that was not the case. Meditation after meditation I was given clear understanding that Kama needed to be addressed in my life. My first thought when I heard this insight was, “I don’t have time for that!”

I don’t have time for pleasure in my life. Wow, that was indeed an insight. On closer examination I saw how depleted I had let my ‘Kama Cup’ get over the past few years.

So here I stand on the edge of summertime wondering how I accept summers sweet invitation, and allow myself to let go of the ‘must do’ list. Years have past since I’ve taken a vacation and played like a child exploring Summer’s offerings.   It is the knowing that if I continue to ignore this imbalance in my life, that my life will spiral more out of balance and my goals will unlikely be met or met without the richness of health and happiness to accompany it.

Even with a regular asana and meditation practice, life can be out of balance and we must pay attention. I trust this yogic path, and trust my own inner wisdom that spoke so clearly to me when I took the time to be still. In that stillness Kama was whispered to me like the gentlest Summer breeze.   How can I deny my own soul?

There never seems to be enough time. And there never will be. But it is imperative now how I decide to delegate my time that will determine the outcome of my life.   I choose this time not to let Summer pass by without at least a few slow dances under the stars, cools mountain waters running through my toes, and the sticky sweat on my skin that only comes from a long walk through the woods. This is my own Journey to Awakening Balance.

 

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