Have you ever looked at how little boys rough house? They decide that a placid current of energy in the air is toxic, and they start pilling onto each other, growling, and after a bit of a tussle they are off playing again as gentlemen, just like (the Hindu deity) Durga and her mighty sword. She took the obstacles that were in her way and loved them to death or slashed their heads off.
A couple of years ago, I ran a play group once a week out of my home. A little boy with a French background and who was the same age as my daughter joined us every week. His full name translated was “Throws a Rock.” This boy was raw, raw Durga. My daughter was raw as well but raw with two feet still in the clouds. Quite quickly this boy taught my daughter how to plant her feet and be a Durga.
They would play, he would get mad, she would get upset, he would plant his two feet in the ground bend his knees, growl, put his hands in front of his body, and plow and push. She reciprocated and learned quickly how to move obstacles out of her way. Both would get up happy after working out their tussles and keep sharing the sandbox.
I am not advocating teaching our kids to fight in the sandbox, but sometimes when we let our bodies and minds move obstacles we can learn and find our inner truth. That is one of the things I like so much about the ease that boys can get over a disagreement.
Today at yoga class the teacher asked us to do a dancing practice. We were to freely play within our sun salutations. At one point she said that all our bodies ever want to do is play.
That exercise made me ask myself: when did I start using my body in a systematic way instead of letting myself play and explore?
My daughter can ski well. When she goes down a steep hill, we might ask her how did you do that? She says, “I just did it, I got to the top of the hill and I knew what to do.”
Yet we start teaching young children how to use their bodies – this is where you put your foot to kick the ball, this is what you do when you are frustrated, your arm goes here when you do the breast stroke, and slowly we teach them to stop playing and start doing actions that are linked to their thinking minds.
We end up modeling thinking that leads to moving, rather than teaching moving towards freedom and understanding the way fiery Durga moves through barriers – towards pure knowledge.
Our children are born with an innate understanding based in play, let’s not forget to support that.