There is a huge difference between going deep and going in. Deeply understanding and knowing something is not the same level of experience as ingesting or taking something in and transforming because of it.
This time of year, the oranges are so bright, fragrant and appealing. There is a satisfaction in just looking at them that is second only to biting into a slice, sweet and tangy, cool juice drippy and overflowing.
How do we know to peel it first? What makes us crave what is inside - deeper than the beautiful bright orange skin that made us notice it in the first place? Perhaps we tasted the outside once and it was bitter or maybe we were just raised that way? Do we peel an orange before biting it because adults in our lives made it a point to teach us?
Why not teach kids to apply this to everything in life? That yes, there is beauty on the surface and yet so much more goodness the deeper you go.
For example, this Thanksgiving week, kids are told to be thankful. Let’s use a more meaningful word - Gratitude. We are easily grateful for friends and all the good things in life. Showing appreciation, “Say Thank You, “ is something most parents naturally teach their little ones. How natural is it to be open and talk to our kids about the hard times in life, our mistakes and heartbreaks? Yet, those experiences are priceless and how we respond can make us or break us. Get into the details of how you became who you are. Also, let’s be grateful for our foes, for those who have hurt or disappointed us because they show you your character. Choosing to recognize and value their role in your life, especially if it is to point out exactly how you do not want to be, is empowering. In this way, we are full of greatness.
Going deep is actually a movement toward the center, absorption rather than saturation. Transformation occurs when we do more than understand something as it is presented. We get deeper and grow when we digest life, nourish our true selves, generate new ideas and from there express it all back into the world with a new twist. We offer something unique because it is flavored with our individual personality, viewpoints and experiences. We can actually translate personal growth into changing the world!
The surface of life is an invitation. When we say yes, we awaken our senses and agree to go in.
In yoga, we physically and energetically draw in toward our center and from within that deep place extend out to fully express our divine nature in all that we do. We want to go deep and yet the goal is not to stay stuck there, but emerge with something authentic and new to share. Conversely, we should show and share ourselves fully and transparently without getting caught in the allure of attention.
Freedom lies within this rhythm, not in one place or both, but in the rhythm.
One pose to use as a way of teaching this concept to kids is Laughter Milkshake. Simply put, knowing the ingredients of a milkshake is one thing, drinking it is another. Both are valuable but stopping at the surface robs you of the richness and fullness of all it has to offer.
Practice this pose as a symbol of your freedom to drink in the sweetness of life and express deep joy.
From Mountain pose, lift your arms out to either side and step our feet out wide with your ankles under your wrists. Turn your toes out at an angle. Inhale and feel your gravitational pull as you hug into your basement. Exhale and shine back out like the brightest star in the sky. Reach out from your armpits to your fingertips and from your hips to your eels. Press the crown of your head up toward the sky. Feel your body expand out in five directions. Hold and imaginary glass in each hand. Pour from one glass into the other with an overhead motion while chanting “AAEEEPP! ” Then pour back into the first glass with an overhead stretch while chanting “AAEEPP!” Burst into laughter while drinking your milkshake.