Playing…

Play More!

photo credit: Melody Campbell

At the beach in the summer, a glorious hot morning, the sunshine on my shoulders reminds me the universe is benign and warm. The soft crunch of hot sand oozing up through my toes reminds me of the connectedness of everything, bringing me right down to mother earth. Everyone at the beach is always happy, open and playing and right here and now. The dogs running around are happy and saying it. The water is warm, but the initial dive is a cold slap in the chest, and even this feeling is important, this two-second scolding, reminding of the fragility and mortality and brevity of life. I wonder why it is that people like us who never have to worry about food or shelter, are not celebrating every moment of their existence? Why is that? The strong waves are exhilarating. Floating on my back, eyes closed, buoyant and swaying, I can feel warmth of sun and water. The past is surrendered so it’s dim and distant, and the future is abstract. Only the present thoughts and feelings count, and those are mostly quiet, like bubbles in the froth, forming and popping, quickly gone, the calm depths unaffected. In this quiet, gentle, unoccupied, awareness, there is only the sensation of floating and swaying and warmth. This is contentedness. This is playing.

Why don’t we play all the time?

We have forgotten to play because we live unconsciously.

The point of living is to live consciously rather than live from unconscious reaction. Most of us are asleep, living only as a reaction to conditioning and the past. Even the seemingly willful actions we take, such as making decisions or choosing a certain path or adapting a new set of beliefs, rise from confused conditioning.

We feel, think, sense, do and say everything for the “me” and it doesn’t exist except as a story in thought. Most of us are identified with thought so deeply that we are enslaved by the mind. And we find out quickly, that the thinking mind, capricious and tangled, is not a compassionate or effective or wise guide.

This delusional model of reality is guaranteed to cause unhappiness.

There is great freedom in living consciously. It is simply being aware, in this quiet, gentle, unoccupied spaciousness, so that we are no longer limited by any model of reality. It is clear seeing. It is natural and effortless. It is highly intelligent, intuitive, compassionate, paradoxically still and flowing at the same time, but there is nobody here to take credit for it. It just is.

Many of things we do in life are pretty straightforward. We set a goal and we figure out what needs to be done, and we struggle and work until it’s done. Or it’s not done, but we’re sure we understand how the process of achieving and accumulating works.

Awakening is different. We’re not trying to achieve or accumulate. We could say it is more about letting go of what is false in us.

What I try to do here is to give very practical methods of allowing this insight. I stay away from spiritual concepts and fluff and complicated theories.

I recognize that awakening is not easy. My experience was not easy. I came to it from misery, having hit bottom. And since then there have been wild swings between confusion and clarity, high and low energy, detachment and engagement, interest and apathy, recidivism and recovery. It seems to go in a big circle, coming back to where I was, but I am different somehow.

It’s a process. It continues and deepens. At some point, I was able to release the effort, so that it moves along on its own. At another point, I realized it is not about practice or method, it is just living.

Try it. Decide you want to live consciously. The making of this decision is important because the ego resists. Fear comes up.  You might dismiss all of this as mumbo jumbo. Or, you will say I am not ready, I need to understand more, this is self-indulgent, this will be hard work, I don’t have time… We are quite addicted to our miserable patterns.

Develop Awareness. Watching yourself think, without interfering, is a good way to start.

Release pent-up emotions. This is immediately helpful.

You might not be ready and if you believe that, it’s fine. I suggest then that reading is a pretty easy thing to do. Here, there are many free articles and also premium books. If you want external resources, Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Now and Hale Dwoskin’s The Sedona Method are excellent and simple.

Don’t get hung up on any particular method or brand of spirituality or goal. Forget about the big-bang event of enlightenment that many traditions love to talk about. This is simpler than simplicity. This isn’t about Karma or reincarnation or God or what the Universe should do for us. This is about you, right here and right now, being, just being, being free of the burdens you’ve accumulated.

It’s not easy, and it’s not difficult—but it’s a little delicate, because you will think this is an achievement, to be had by knowledge and struggle and self-discipline and beliefs and effort, when really it is just the relaxing of all of that.

And then, more and more, you find yourself playing.

When was the last time you were playing?

34 thoughts on “Playing…

  1. Nadia - Happy Lotus

    Hi Kaushik,

    As someone who lives consciously, I truly find it strange when others do not. I was just thinking about this subject this morning. You are so right…there are those who go through life unconsciously and those who are conscious. I think the conscious ones tend to have more fun for they do not take things too seriously, even though unconscious people accuse of them of being so serious. There is some irony in that…at least, in my eyes.

    I do think people have to have some type of experience which causes them to look for another way of being. For many, people have to hit rock bottom in order to be ready to see the light. However, the beauty of life is that there are no set methods. So to each their own.

    Thank you for a great post. And, btw, I am ALL for playing. :)
    .-= Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog ..The Power of Redemption =-.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Nadia,

      All sorts of fears come up in trying to be conscious. One of the fears is that being conscious is a lot of effort. Ironically, it is so much easier to live consciously, than to live according to ego and conditioning. This open space is gentle and intuitive.

      Yes, it does seem that people have to have an experience which allows them the insight that there is a higher possibility. Often, suffering will do that. Of course, it’s not the suffering itself; suffering just allows a softening of the ego, an opening in the resistance.

      At the end of the day, the only essential question in life is, Is there enough lightness and joy and compassion in my life? Is there enough play?

      Thanks for wisdom!
      k

      Reply
  2. Masi

    I am thankful that there’s always been play in my life, almost everyday :) even in my darkest hours in the midst of heavy load of releasing I had learnt to allow myself play time; to enjoy a walk barefoot by the ocean, to lay on the bench by the lake enjoying the sun’s healing rays and surrounded by ducks and a swan, to go to the park and play on the swing sets swinging as high as I can under the rain… except for most my life I’ve been without a playmate and it’s starting to really sadden me :( and I can’t help wondering why?

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Masi,

      You’ve expressed yourself very well. You’re open and playful, and yet right now you are saddened by an absence.

      Our desires come from many things, including genetics and biology and conditioning. Our desires and emotions come from wanting. If you look, you may find that desires (and fears) always come from wanting power or from the fear of being powerless. If you look more, you may find it is from wanting control, approval, security, or completeness. Strangely, sometimes we want the opposites–sometimes we actively seek disapproval or we give up control or we want to separate.

      The wanting of completeness is a big one. This is why we are particularly saddened at the times we are not in a relationship or when a relationship is over or gone bad, or in unrequited love. And this is also why these are our best opportunities to awaken. As the Dalai Lama says, and I’m paraphrasing, when you don’t get what you want, it’s a wonderful stroke of luck!

      Of course at the time it does not feel like a wonderful stroke of luck.

      A powerful release technique is to see what our drivers are. We can use relationships and their absence and the emotions around them as powerful magnets to pull up and release deep seated conditioning. Make a list of your desires and goals and fears. For each item, ask yourself whether it comes from wanting approval, control, security or completeness, or their opposites. Can you bring up these wants and simply let them go?

      The fear comes up that if I let go of my wants, I will never have. I don’t have an intellectual response to this. All I can say is that when we can let go of all the conditioning and fears and desperate movements, we are lighter and easier and intuitive. We then naturally attract the good things in life.

      Sorry about the long response. It’s good to hear from you!
      k

      Reply
  3. Bob Weisenberg

    Well put. I’m with you all the way. It so interesting to see another way of expressing this present focus.

    You and I are both expressing the very same idea from different angles. I’ve chosen to stay within the framework of Yoga. But we’re both trying to express timeless truths in plain English.

    Well done.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com
    .-= Bob Weisenberg´s last blog ..First It Was “Yobo”, Now There is Ratra (Radical Traditional) Yoga =-.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Bob,

      Thanks very much!

      I like that you used the word “framework.” Spirituality, Yoga, Non-dualism, Inquiry, meditation (and suffering)–all provide great frameworks. Different things resonate with different people.

      Hatha Yoga has been a great help to me. I plan to write about it more in the future.

      That’s a funny article on Ratra. My vote is for Neo-Ratra which allows the use of cell phones during asanas.

      k

      Reply
  4. Bob Weisenberg

    Kaushik. If you like the word “framework” you’ll love this language right out of Big Idea #5 on my site:

    “Yoga assumes itself to have discovered universal truths. If you look at almost any moment of pure joy it usually has this character of total absorption in the present moment, where all other concerns and preoccupations fade into insignificance.

    So it’s not surprising that one can come up with countless examples of Yoga-type present-focused joy in every aspect of human life. Yoga is just a powerful way of discovering and exploring this aspect of our existence. Yoga didn’t invent it.”

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com
    .-= Bob Weisenberg´s last blog ..First It Was “Yobo”, Now There is Ratra (Radical Traditional) Yoga =-.

    Reply
  5. Liara Covert

    The real you does play constantly. Consciousness is expanding and enabling you to be in many more places that is comprehended by the physical body and human mind. The “I am” in you is clearing up your misplaced thought patterns. Release discordance. Embrace love.
    .-= Liara Covert´s last blog ..What is difference? =-.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Liara, yes. “Release discordance. Embrace Love.” In my experience when fear is let go of, what is left is Love. It is the love of being alive, right here and right now.
      k

      Reply
  6. Evita

    Beautiful Kaushik – just beautiful.

    Like Nadia said, as someone who lives consciously, it is sometimes mind bending to me to see the things that people do or say. It generates them pain, and they complain about the pain, but they don’t realize that they are creating that pain for themselves.

    And I want to help, so much! But I have realized quickly enough that we cannot help everyone. In fact we cannot help anyone who is not ready to awaken. To them our words will sound unrealistic, if not even hostile in some way.

    We do get so caught up in illusion that we call life and all for what? Like you said, when did we last play, I mean really play???

    For me, I am happy to have kept my childhood innocence for the most part in how I live each day. Life is fun and beautiful and I love being inquisitive and believing (like children) in the so called “not real”. I have a feeling that children understand reality much better than adults do ;)
    .-= Evita´s last blog ..Evolving Being In Action: Marcomé =-.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Evita,

      Thanks!

      To live consciously, or not, is a choice. Of course most of us don’t realize this–I didn’t for many years. When we do, it’s quite amazing, and we feel how is it possible that I didn’t realize this before, and that many people don’t see that they create enormous pain for themselves.

      It’s interesting you say that some people can be hostile when they are not ready. I have had that experience. Often, though, the hostility is just resistance that the person is trying to overcome–which he or she must do on their own in their own time. The tug of war going in the mind becomes very apparent.

      Yes, like children. Awareness is innocent and playful.

      Thanks for you wisdom!
      k

      Reply
  7. Brenda

    I don’t go to church, but if I did I would want to hear messages like this one. The fact that you “stay away from spiritual concepts and fluff and complicated theories” makes what you say so much easier to digest, and I am all about ease! Do you speak as easily as you write?

    How do you define “spirituality”? Because there is something here that lightens my spirit. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know your age either, but I sense that you may be past fifty like me. Do you find, as I do, that once you’ve walked across the coals of half a century, the path is generally easier after that? I’m picturing shade trees and a cool, smooth, grassy path. . . .

    Where’s the audio, Kaushik? Where’s the video? Not that you’re not doing enough here already. Your book store looks really good. Eight books. Wow. I should quit playing around so much!
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..Jay at eCOMM =-.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Brenda,

      A trick to writing well is to write from relaxed awareness, as if you were talking to someone. So I write as I speak and speak as I write, except perhaps since writing can be edited, it is probably a little more formal and stylistic than I speak.

      Good point about the word “spirituality.” It’s a very broad term. To the extent that it means “having to do with spirit” I like it. It’s just that creating a “spiritualized ego” is an easy to trap to fall into, and then it’s not about ease or simplicity, but it is about accumulation of beliefs. At the same time, I recognize that spirituality provides a benign framework for many.

      Yup, just turned fifty. Yes, you’re right, we’re lucky to be living in these times. It feels like a turning point in wisdom, and yet we’re young.

      Oh, the audio and video. Yes I want to do those. I’m writing two books now, I’d like to get them published, so that’s where the time goes…but audio and video–thanks for reminding me. If you or other readers have suggestions on how to get audio and video made, I’d love to hear them!

      k

      Reply
  8. Masi

    Dear Kaushik,

    You say: “The fear comes up that if I let go of my wants, I will never have.”

    I’ve always been aware that this is a fear, and so for the most part it’s easy for me to release it when it does arise BUT it still comes back.

    Yes, it is conditioning!

    I’ll work on the list you mentioned.

    thank you, again and again and again….

    with much love,

    M.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Dear Masi,

      Yes, some these fears and emotions are deep-seated. Releasing works by peeling off layers, and so sometimes old stuff comes up, and sometimes it surprises us. You’ll notice releasing soon becomes natural, and in fact, the holding on is what takes active effort.

      You’ve inspired a new article–I haven’t written yet about releasing around relationships. All our relationships are a mirror in which we can see ourselves. I will write soon about it.

      Thanks, Masi. Please keep in touch!
      k

      Reply
  9. Lisa

    Yes, nice post. I agree with you in awareness and consciousness of the moment. Life is. In play we let go and enjoy and live the moment at hand, this is also the gift of children and animals.
    I feel for your journey, as I am also in mine. And true, as in all journeys, you somehow do come back to the place you began, but by having taken that journey you have changed and it can never be as it was.
    Such is the sign of growth.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..The Dark of the Night =-.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Lisa,
      Yes, very well said. It’s as they say, chop wood and carry water, before and after, the difference is that we’re unstuck and light and easy.

      Great comment!
      k

      Reply
  10. Jodi at Joy Discovered

    Hi Kaushik,
    This article is so peaceful. There is a melody carrying through it, if that makes any sense. When I first started living consciously, I “attacked” it like a goal just as you described. It took several months before I realized that that’s not what this is about. Gosh, being able to exhale that out and just relax felt so good! I love your line here, “It’s not easy, and it’s not difficult—but it’s a little delicate, because you will think this is an achievement, to be had by knowledge and struggle and self-discipline and beliefs and effort, when really it is just the relaxing of all of that.” You are so right, awakening and living consciously is something we handle in a delicate way. What a perfect description.
    Thanks for your insights! Jodi
    .-= Jodi at Joy Discovered´s last blog ..A Gardening Tale =-.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Jodi,

      I like you description, “attacked.” I did the same in the beginning, I think I was miserable and anxious to see where this would lead. It felt like every week I had some great revelation. It was a glorious day when effort was released.

      Thanks!

      k

      Reply
  11. Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord

    I liked Adyashanti’s description of abiding versus non-abiding awakening. Non-abiding meaning the kind that comes for a moment, ten, or more, but doesn’t stick around. We fall unconscious again. That’s what I feel happened to me. I have moments of absolute clarity – absolute “play,” awareness, a sense of the eternal, even – but then they leave. Or I leave them.

    As I started reading this post, I can humorously admit that I was eating ice cream mindlessly. I had a DVD playing on my laptop (which is now paused so I could concentrate on your words), a mouthful of ice cream that I sort of tasted, and then it struck me: duh, Megan, you’re not engaged with what you’re doing.

    I’m still working on this, and working, subsequently, on playing more. (Wow, bad word to use: “working.” How does one work at play?!!)

    Be well!
    .-= Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last blog ..Love Leaves Again =-.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi JoyGirl,

      Ah, multi-tasking!

      I love Adyashanti’s wisdom. He’s always compassionately direct. Possibly, the difference between non-abiding awareness and abiding awareness is trust. We may be in playful awareness, and the ego jumps in and tells us we should be looking to the next moment, securing our future, seeking approval, seeking happiness.

      And that is perfectly okay. At some point, I think after about year, I was able to release the effort behind the practice, and then it works on its own.

      Thanks for your joyful wisdom!

      k

      Reply
  12. Wilma Ham

    Play, who decided to give play the meaning it currently has?
    Something children do and some adults can only do when all duties are done?
    As you say most of our concerns about survival are taken care of.
    That leaves us to concentrate on playing with what is in front of us, playing as in experiencing it with all our senses, why otherwise do we have them?
    Play is – if you want to give it an adult meaning – something serious, it is how children learn, how children experience the world full on, how they make sense of the world, it is via play that children taste different realities, how children keep their creative thinking.
    I do not think that play deserves the derogitave meaning it has, play is actually going above the survival level and allows us to become a dignified human being instead of a slave.
    And weird as it sounds, I too have to learn to bring all that I do up to play level, to play as intense as I could as a child with full concentration on what is in front of me, knowing that all my needs are taken care of.
    Let’s keep playing Kaushik.
    .-= Wilma Ham´s last blog ..Intimacy and sponsorship happen through listening; how well do we listen? =-.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Beautifully said, Wilma.

      When we learn to let go, we can live consciously, instead of in continual reaction to stuck patterns. This is liberation. This is play

      Indeed, Wilma, let’s play!

      k

      Reply
  13. Paul Maurice Martin

    I think in a way, you can play at everything, if that makes sense. Even having an incurable degenerative disease. This might sound crazy but I do actually make little games out of my various, uh, “feats of strength” like getting out of bed in the morning or shuffling to and from the bathroom without falling.

    Reply
    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Paul,

      That’s a great point. You have personal experience with making a game out of living even in difficult circumstances. I’m honored to receive your wisdom.

      k

      Reply
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