by Megha Nancy Buttenheim
Like many of you, I have become increasingly horrified by the news and by the labeling of respectable media outlets as fake news. When we are lied to again and again, over time, we stop trusting what we see right before our eyes. Some people I know are knuckling under, burying their head under a pillow. Wintertime is certainly a tempting time to hide, but we must do the opposite: We must stay vigilant, powerful, and strong.
How, you might wonder? We can start by walking tall. For me, it helps to truly live in and respect the body. The body never lies (so said modern dance pioneer Martha Graham). The body is never fake. I’m passionate about helping everyone to live—and dance—in their bodies, to truly understand that our body is so intelligent it can make your head spin!
The great cartoonist Charles Schulz, who created the long-lived and long-loved Peanuts, beginning on October 2, 1950, was way ahead of his time. One reason that Schulz’s beloved Charlie Brown was so depressed was that he walked (and continues to walk) with a perennial slouch. In yoga, we call this “slump-asana.” As Charlie Brown slumps along, his poor rib cage is caved in, his diaphragm is unable to work properly, and he cannot take a deep breath.
On the other hand, his pal Snoopy, the mascot of Let Your Yoga Dance, leaps and prances on his hind legs, whooping, “To live is to dance, to dance is to live!” Remarkable posture for a beagle! Research backs up the idea that good posture has a lot to do with our mental state, bringing us more confidence, elevation, and joy.
So does a good book! The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World—inspiring interviews with the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, compiled by Douglas Carlton Abrams—is a profoundly simple and simply profound read. In the first chapter, “The Nature of True Joy,” the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop speak of joy in terms of pillars. Their assessment is right in line with Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research. The three top pillars of joy are:
• Reframing a tough situation in a more positive light
• Experiencing gratitude
• Being kind and generous.
When we practice those three pillars, regardless of whatever is going on in the world, we have some surefire ways to live in, heal through, and expand our joy.
Megha Nancy Buttenheim, MA, M.A., E-RYT 1000, is CEO and founding director of Let Your Yoga Dance® LLC, and author of “Expanding Joy: Let Your Yoga Dance, Embodying Positive Psychology”. An expert in experiential education, Megha is a long-time teacher-trainer at Kripalu Center, where she has trained thousands of people in yoga, health, movement, and meditation. letyouryogadance.com