Playing in Costa Rica

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Patrick and I have been in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica for the last ten days.  Our intention in coming was to take a retreat together:  to rest, rejuvenate and connect with each other.  We felt the need to get out of our daily routine in order to deepen our connection while also taking a break from the Humboldt winter.  We love the tropics and it has been at least ten years since we’ve had a proper vacation, so even though the timing was tricky, we’re so glad we made this happen.

It’s about 80 degrees all the time.  We so love getting to wear such light clothing- or none at all!  We are practicing our morning meditation and yoga outside on our patio, taking daily beach walks and swims and relishing regular surfing.  We cook for ourselves and without much technology, are enjoying evening games of cards, music and reading a sweet book out loud before bed.

We’ve recently made some new acquaintances with local ex-pats: our neighbor and his local yoga buddies, among others.  Yesterday I enjoyed teaching a celebratory end of 2017 class to them on one of their outside decks and we look forward to several more practices with them.

One of the many things I’m appreciating about this trip is my intention and commitment to having fun.  I have a daily mantra: how can I play today?  Whether it’s on the yoga mat, in the waves, with a deck of cards, or on the dance floor, I am enjoying many daily doses of play.  Hanging out with retired and vacationing people and enjoying “island” life, is a great reminder that so often, I take my life much too seriously.  Here, I’m letting myself sleep more, relax a lot, enjoy tropical foods and nature, explore new places, and play in silly ways with Patrick.

At the local restaurant hang-out up the road, they have a concrete ping-pong table outside which works quite well.  We’ve been there many times:  for the weekly Friday night dance party, New Years eve and other occasions, and each time we’ve laughed  our way through a rambunctious game.  What I especially appreciate is our commitment to a good rally and to not keeping score.  We’re making the game about fun and not about winning or proving anything to each other.  And when one of us does get a little competitive and slams the ball or tries to trick the other, we do it with zest and a spirit of play, usually causing a big uproar of laughter from us both.  We laugh at our egos’ desire to win and outsmart the other and we end up having even more fun.

In yoga, the word bhoga means enjoyment and refers to enjoying the sense pleasures.  In Tantra, bhoga is welcomed and is as important as moksha, which means liberation.  In fact, Tantrikas say life should be enjoyable and that bhoga can be a means to moksha (unlike earlier yogis who focused on discipline and hard work as a means to awakening).  The Tantrikas also emphasize disciple as a means, but they say you need both bhoga and moksha.  However, moksha must not be overshadowed by bhoga, since for most of us, it’s so easy to get lost in pleasure that we might forget the bigger picture: liberation is paramount.

So as I contemplate this, and with several days left to our time here, I find myself wondering:  “Hmmmm…how can I have more fun at home?  How can we play more together?”

I notice that when I’m feeling playful and enjoying myself, I don’t take things or myself as seriously.  I’m more relaxed.  And I’m also more open to others, more receptive to different points of view and ways of being.

So I think that the more I can bring this playful and light-hearted attitude back into my daily working life, the more life will feel like play and the more fun I can have!

I’d love to hear your ideas about play and how you bring play into daily life.


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