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Kama

by Rebecca Barry

A few days ago I was riding my bike down my street to the coffee shop, and I passed the little parade of children I see every morning. They go to the day care center down the block and every day they go out for a walk—5 or 6 kids on holding hands, two adults pushing strollers. I love them because if I’m walking by someone usually says something interesting, like, “Who are you? How old are you? I have red shoes!” But that day I was riding my bike and as I rode by one of the boys said loudly, “Wow! A Yady on a bicycle!”

This made me so happy. First of all, I love being called a lady, no matter how it’s pronounced. But mostly, what a great phase of life to be in—when a woman in a red shirt riding a blue bicycle down a tree-lined street is a “Wow!”

Actually, I feel that way a lot. And I thought, that’s my intention for this summer—and maybe the rest of my life–to be in that state. “Wow! A back yard full of fireflies! Wow! A 40 mile long blue lake! Wow! A rainfall of cherry blossoms landing on the sidewalk that looks like pink snow!”

I keep thinking about it as we make our way through this season of kama.  Kama is the Lakshmi arm that represents material pleasures: passion, sensuality, beauty, art, music, dance, nature, the enjoyment and delight of the senses. It’s not often discussed–sensuality isn’t something we spend a lot of time on in our culture, as our mainstream cultural mythology is built up around being busy. We really love that. We love to produce, we love growth, we are very happy when we make a lot of things. We equate being busy with being important. How are you? We say to each other. Busy! We say back. Which, I think loosely translated means, “I matter.” But kama is about the enjoyment of our lives: Noticing all of the things in the world that shimmer and sing without even trying. Reveling in the brightness of bumping into someone you’re happy to see. The ability to hear music, and walk in the woods, and taste delicious flavors all day.

It asks you to enjoy your processes, even the challenging ones—they’re all part of what it is to be deeply alive.

This reminds me of one of my favorite yoga class moments, which happened when I was visiting a studio in Ohio. I was feeling very tight for all kinds of reasons—we were traveling, I had two small children under the age of five…actually that’s enough reasons right there. I took a class on my first day was long and difficult and we’d held poses forever so the whole thing felt rigorous and muscle-y, at least to me.So the second day I came in prepared to do that all over again, but this time it was a different teacher. She had a soft belly and bare feet with gold rings on her toes, long curly hair, very tanned skin, and was one of those people who could have been 40 or 65. She also had coral pink nails.

She sauntered around the class, leading us through our poses, sometimes doing them with

us, sometimes just smiling at us. She had a Boston or Maine accent so her r’s weren’t quite pronounced and she just kept calming us down.

“How awuh  you feeling?” she asked in the middle of the class. “Awuh you all tight? All

knotted up? Welax! It’s just yoga. Who cayahs? We could be naked in heyah, (here) so what?”

I loved her.

I still love her, and when I feel myself getting all worked up (which I do a lot) I hear her

voice. “How awuh you feeling? Awuh you all tight? Welax!

It’s just yoga.”

Relax. It’s just a job. It’s just a feeling. It’s just a birthday party. Who cayuhs? We could all be naked.

And then before I know it, I’m noticing other things. The spicy scent of baby sweet corn, or the way warm wind feels on my skin as she makes the leaves dance. How happy my body is when I ride home from my sister’s house beneath the moon. The fact that the people in my family, who I fight with, sometimes simply because I’ve run out of other things to do, are healthy, and still somehow, (somehow!) love me and are alive.

And there is good food and coffee and tea and company and music everywhere in this world, even on the days we are lonely. And if we are lonely, can you enjoy that? Because sometimes being lonely is the most rich and inspiring place to be.

How can you enjoy your kama? If you let go of caring, or judgment on your process, what comes flooding in?

If you’re following along, we’d love to hear from you about your Kama experiences/reflections. Email us at info@LakshmiLivingArts.org