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Playful Engagement with Life

One of the basic foundations of Sri Anand Yoga (SAY) is the attitude of playfulness  towards life. 

Playful Engagement with Life

One of the basic foundations of Sri Anand Yoga (SAY) is the attitude of playfulness  towards life. 

Conventionally we have one or more of the following approaches towards our life on Earth

1 This life is an illusion. This world is an illusion

2 This life is full of miseries. The only solution is to get out of it in some afterlife state of Nirvana or Heaven.

3 We should live this life in a sense of duty towards our family members, community, nation, humanity etc.

4 This life is full of sacrifices which we are bound to make in order to earn some virtue in the afterlife.

5 I am the sinner. The only salvation is through repentance and prayer. 

6 This life is full of hard work and suffering which we have to endure as per the dictates of our Dharma.

 

In SAY, we rise above all such concepts and notions about our life. We consider our life on Earth as a Play. There may be hard work and disappointments etc during our process of living. But they are not viewed in a negative sense of suffering. We can best explain the position of SAY with the example of the game of Soccer or Cricket. We may lose some games and win some. We may have a hard time playing. We may get tired during the long play. We may even get injured during the play. At times, we may feel disappointed with our own play or that of our teammates or the decision of the Umpire. But in spite of all that, we eagerly look forward to having another match. This is because we don’t consider our game as some sort of punishment or suffering. Our hardships and difficult times during the game are all part of the play and we have willingly, happily accepted it. We take it as a challenge. At the bottom of it all, we enjoy the game, even when we lose it. 

 

The SAY attitude towards life of ‘playful engagement’ is similar to the game of football or cricket (or rugby, basketball etc). This playful attitude towards life nourishes our life field and makes it more stronger, vibrant and deeper. Any negative sense of suffering depletes the life field. The life field in turn maintains our physical body in a healthy and vibrant state. We will explain it in a separate note with the support of the latest findings of medical science. 

In order to have a right understanding of the ‘Playful Engagement with Life’ (PEL) we need to know which activities are NOT necessarily a PEL

1 Engagement on Social Media like Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram etc reading and sharing forwards, motivational messages, videos, music, discussion and debates. 

2 Any type of entertainment in any form

3 Playing of any games

4 Social events

5 Trips

These activities may be at superficial level engagement in a playful manner. But they are NOT PEL in a real SAY way. These activities may give us comfort and relaxation. But they won’t result in strengthening our Life Field. They won’t make our LF vibrant. They won’t nourish our LF. Strong, vibrant, deep, energetic LF are the source of our good health, youthfulness and cheerfulness. 

The key point is that of our ATTITUDE in considering any activity in which we engage as a part of PLAY. When we are stuck in a traffic jam causing us delay in attending a very important meeting, this attitude of playfulness comes into force in a more direct manner. Instead of cursing the traffic system, lamenting, getting irritated, frustrated - we take it in a more balanced and calm manner, full of mindfulness, being aware in the present situation without any judgment and most importantly exploring possibility of beating the traffic jam, engaging our time in a more fruitful way if that is possible and otherwise remaining playfully observant of the surroundings - other cars, drivers, passengers, pedestrians, traffic police, street vendors etc and may be getting amused with the odd/weird/crazy/funny expressions and activity. 

 

To explain it in a Newtonian way - there is an adverse force of circumstances (say traffic jam) and there is our counter force of ‘Playfulness’. In the process of interaction of these two forces (like the generation of electrical energy  with the connection of north and south poles of the magnet), we harness the energy contained in the adverse force of circumstance to nourish our LF. If, on the other hand, we get irritated and frustrated due to adverse circumstances, the energy flow is exactly reversed and our LF gets depleted of energy. It also gets off the equilibrium. In a way, the adverse circumstances in our life give us an opportunity to harness the energy contained therein. Like a surfer in the high tides, with a playful attitude, we enjoy the high tide by skillfully riding on the tide, instead of getting drowned inside it. In a calm sea, there is no fun in surfing. 

 

In order to have the PEL, we need to continuously practice other systems of SAY - rhythmic breathing, mindfulness and Vipassana (explained elsewhere in SAY). Without these systems, it won’t be possible to effectively practice PEL as we are likely to get swayed by the strong currents of emotions generated with the adverse circumstances and lose our balance. 

It is to be particularly noted that we are not using here the phrase ‘Joyful Engagement with Life’, which is the most common phrase we hear in all motivational and religious discourses. It is not possible to feel ‘Joy’ in every situation in a natural way. There will be stressful situations in life and as per SAY it is OK to feel pain instead of joy. It is natural that way. By ‘simulating’ joy through programmed mindset in stressful situations will only lead to living away from the reality of life. This programmed mindset can be developed through psychedelic drugs, religious and spiritually induced altered state of consciousness, motivational conditioning of mind and such other measures. SAY discourages such methods of altered perception of reality and feeling joy where the external stimulus is that of pain. In SAY, we accept the reality AS IT IS. If it is stressful, be it that way. We acknowledge the stress. We even feel the feeling of stress. But we do not get stressed. We remain playfully aware of stress. For us the stressor is like the ball in the football game which we skillfully place through the footwork. We are fully mindful of stress. We deal with stress in a balanced state of mind through a deeper level of consciousness and do not get swayed away on the stormy sea with high tides of stress. To put it in other words, our playfulness with life may or may not produce joy in a particular situation by itself. We may be the captain of the losing team in a football match. When we lose the game and get showered with brickbats and harsh criticisms, we do not adopt a stoic attitude or become immune to it or artificially feel joy in it in some misguided spiritual or religious or psychological notions. We genuinely feel disappointed and sad in such situations. In SAY we accept it as a natural way of living. What we don’t accept however is getting immersed in this state of mind and remaining that way. Like a true player, we soon get over such feelings and get ready for a new play. In fact we look forward to it. This playful engagement with life brings us joy in a larger canvas of our living in this world. It is a stable and permanent state underlying the temporary ups and downs of circumstances. 

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