Lucca, my three year old son (“free and a half” he would be sure to tell you) is often my greatest teacher. Without even knowing it, which is extra cool. The other day he said to me “I’m inside a good mood right now! I’m so glad.” My first reaction was to be glad, too–thankful that he’s growing an awareness of his emotional states, thankful that he’s developing gratitude, and thankful that, selfishly, I would (perhaps) spend the next hour of my life doing something other than nursing a temper tantrum.
I’ve taken to saying that I’m “inside” a grumpy or bad or sour mood…
My next reaction was to ponder his grammatical error: “inside” a good mood instead of “in.” Usually I simply find these “errors” cute, and find myself smiling–which I did. But my mind went a bit further with this one, as I realized that “inside” is perhaps a better description of what happens with moods. I thought about how to him, it feels really difficult to get “outside” of bad moods, like they’re a room, or house, or hell, a whole town. Then I realized it’s often that hard for my own self, and for most of us “grown-ups.” We aren’t just in our moods but inside them, with the particular characteristics and influences of that mood so enveloping us that we don’t even think of getting out as a real option. We simply let the mood color everything we see, and therefore shape what we put back out into the world (which of course then influences what others give back, and ’round and ’round we go. Good times…)
In the last week I’ve taken to saying that I’m “inside” a grumpy or bad or sour mood, to help me tease myself a bit, in hopes of remembering the power I do have to shift, even if just ever so slightly, away from stuck-ness. Yoga encourages us to practice non-grasping, or aparigraha. Many of us assume this applies to not grasping the good stuff, but so very often we hold on to negativity with the same force. The goal here is not to rid myself of any negative moods, but to recognize that they don’t have to engulf me, and that everything is a passing state, like clouds in the sky: something we practice in our yoga asana practice as we move in and out of poses. I might realize it’s a trivial matter I’m upset about, and move away from unproductive moods or pettiness. Or I might sense an anger or sadness that is more meaningful, and open to the emotions more, allowing them to receive acknowledgement. Yoga teaches me various ways to soften the body, to help me allow such acknowledgement. Yoga teaches me breath techniques which increase my ability to be here now and withstand what is happening (satya). Yoga teaches me to appreciate when I’m inside “good” moods, too (to practice contentment or santosha), which more fully encourages me to share the sunshine with others.
Thanks, little Lucca.