We all (or at least most of those who would be reading this blog) have heard the Buddhist-inspired saying: before enlightenment, the laundry. After enlightenment, the laundry. The question is whether after the moments of enlightenment can we infuse doing the laundry with more joy, acceptance, and peace. A young adult acquaintance asked me the other day whether I was readjusting ok. I did not know to what he was referring, and he had to explain that he was asking how I was doing on my return from my India trip. “It was just a vacation–albeit an extraordinary one,” I replied. “Life continues.”
“The good experiences just slip away like dry sand through my fingers,” he made a motion of letting something slip away.
“When you practice and when you get older, it will be easier to bring the temporary, good experiences into your life without feeling they are lost when you have moved onto the next thing,” I said with hope that would actually be true for him, he seemed so bereft.
The yoga teaches us neither to be out searching for the highs nor actively avoiding the lows; the dance of grasping and avoiding is what makes us suffer. That does not mean that the highs, the times of wild abandoned joy, the experiences of utter fulfillment, of exquisite understanding are of no value. What brings joy is a thing of wonder and an opportunity to deepen our ability to love and be generous. They are only a problem if we ruin our time by vainly clinging to or trying to repeat the sensation. As our practice (and our understanding of a life well-lived and loved) matures, we understand that there is no readjusting in the return to the day to day. We welcome what we have had, try to remember what we have learned, including how much joy and delight we are able to drink in, and approach each day as another opportunity to seek and share connection.