The pleasure of pleasure. And yoga.

I totally get it. You have this idea that fun should be limited. That you should work yourself hard to prove your worth. You should be hard, a toughie, a person who can handle it all. An authoritative voice in your head demands that you be someone who can surmount, endure, conquer: a rock. The worst part? You totally don’t enjoy being a rock.

I call that voice Mr. Miller. He was the retired cop who lived across the street when I was a kid. He did things like sweep the street and yell at us for dropping our popsicles. In other words, he was a dick.

So okay. He kept the street tidy. But at the cost of a friendship with every kid on the block. We all feared and despised him. We waited like statues until he stopped hollering at whomever let snot run down his chin. And when he was gone, we resumed with whatever chaos released the joy kracken.

Because we were kids.

Kids know without knowing that happiness is a priority. To us, it was the number one reason to get outside as quickly as possible after school. Sure, our actions were skewed in other ways. We probably smelled. Our nails were caked with black mold, listeria and fecal matter. We definitely didn’t concern ourselves with laundry. And chances are we had no idea whether the rent was paid. But still. Happiness. We yearned for it and we instinctively knew how to find it.

And then the world shifted. We all started to heed Mr. Miller. We blew our noses discretely. We even mistook his voice as our own. We started saying things like, ‘I just don’t have time for fun anymore.’

What a bunch of fuckwits we are. No time for fun?

It’s an absurdity. Fun isn’t something you’re supposed to schedule. It’s something that accompanies the stuff you do, like a hot flight attendant in a cool hat. Fun is sort of a diminished, white label, less esoteric brand of joy. We can say we don’t have time for fun because it’s already devalued as diversion. But would you say you have no time for joy? If you did, you’d sound pretty damn rigid. (And women named Joy would think you suck.) You’d seem like a sad renunciate. No one would want to follow your path.

Which is where yoga comes in. However you pursue your yoga—whether you’re bending into knots, gardening okra or developing better paper airplanes—you’ve surely experienced that burble and pop of deeply buried joy rising. Or you felt it as a geyser. Maybe it didn’t last, but you caught a glimpse. And in that messy moment, you may have acknowledged that this was an old friend, indeed. Someone you hadn’t seen but definitely missed. And, also, you were having fun.

So how about you allow for that? How about you even give a little thought to the fact that these things you do—your yoga—that bring you happiness are the things that make you alive? And even closer to the fullness of life that demonstrates to you your higher purpose. It may not be that your higher purpose is to build the best paper airplane. It may actually be that your higher purpose is to feel the joy that the process brings you.

That’s what yoga does. Yoga is whatever process helps you stop the fluctuations of your mind so you can find clarity. And the joy that clarity brings.

Which is sort of funny, right? Because in my town, there’s a yoga studio on every block and most of them have a bunch of classes that make no mention of anything other than ‘go ahead and melt from the heart’ and ‘let yourself spill from your hamstrings while you feel your roots in the ground.’ Which are weird metaphors that do little to guide you toward understanding just what the heck is the purpose of whatever funky pose you’re doing.

You want to know the purpose of the pose? It might engage your muscles, focus your attention on the breath, and maybe let you glimpse your ego at work. Ta-da. More importantly, it should prepare you for real yoga. That’s right. Real yoga. Raja yoga. The yoga that houses your favorite yoga poses with lots of extra space for other fine furnishings. And not just poses but the whole kit-n-kaboodle of living well among others and with yourself with the aim of finding freedom. Freedom to feel happy without hearing Mr. Miller’s voice. Freedom to find joy as the very essence of your being.

Now. Go out and do some yoga. Wherever it takes you, listen in, sense that space that comes up between your thoughts when you experience a moment of fun and allow yourself the pleasure of your own happiness.

Step two: see if you can surrender it. Wait, what?? More on that in the next post!