Happy New Year to all! Over the holiday season, my aunt, who is a talented musician and dancer, introduced me to a dance called “The Shim-Sham”. It was so much fun to learn and practice, and it is typically done to a song by Jimmy Lunceford called, “‘Taint What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It)”. The melody and words are super catchy, and it has had me singing along ever since I first heard it. I think there is more to just the catchy tune, though, it’s the sentiment behind the words.
Have you ever looked forward to a big holiday or big event like a wedding, then once it's here, you kind of miss it because you're already on to thinking and planning the next thing? You know when you’re arguing with a loved one, and it suddenly comes to an ugly hault? They say, “what?! What did I say?”. And what automatically comes out of your mouth is, “it’s not what you said, it’s how you said it”. Have you ever watched a toddler put on socks? They’re certainly not putting them on only to put on shoes and leave the house...they are just and only and completely doing that, for the experience of doing it, not to get on to some other task. ‘Taint what you do, it’s the way that you do it. There is chemistry and vibration between every place, every part of nature, every thought, word, look, and touch of every being. Lots can happen in the how, no matter the what. The coolest, most desired, sought after stuff may not be impactful if the way it is delivered doesn’t feel honest or connected. And then the simplest of tasks can become the most profound, if done with a certain attention.
There have been times when I looked forward to studying with or taking class from a well-known, esteemed teacher, who was offering “advanced” methods or modalities...and it was just ‘eh. On the other side, I have had my physical body totally rocked in downward facing dog (for those of you who don’t practice asana, it’s a pretty commonplace posture), or my heart blown wide open from a basic breathing technique...because of the way those things were presented. I myself, have stumbled a time or two, over teaching a complicated sequence or advanced concept. Nerves and expectation and thinking I have to be anything other than exactly what I am, gets my mind running here, there, and everywhere...and it falls totally flat. However, when my feet are grounded firmly, and the offerings come from an honest, pure place, I can teach the ABC’s and it can have more impact than the former. ‘Taint what you do, it’s the way that you do it.
My favorite student to teach is a present one. One who is eager to absorb whatever it is that is being offered. A physically advanced practitioner who only wants to do physically challenging things, I can take or leave. They’ll miss most of what they really need because they’re too busy waiting for the teacher to say handstand. The beginner with no expectations, who is ready to explore and be curious about what they’re experiencing, now that’s exciting. The truly advanced student will always listen and see the same old things in a brand new way, and be willing to discover something new about themselves through whatever is in front of them.
Have you ever done something “perfectly”, and not felt so satisfied afterward? Ever feel like you’re turning the wheels of life, or doing something just to get through it? Me too, and if I’m not careful, too often. Even if it’s something I enjoy, like work or yoga or sex...if I’m thinking about what to make for dinner or what so-and-so said yesterday or what I should be doing instead of this thing I’m doing...I’m stealing the thing right away from myself. Or if I can’t get out of my own way...if I can’t check the ego at the door and just BE...there the experience goes. If we all can’t slow down and realize that we once wished for this moment, then we never really land anywhere, do we? We never really experience anything, do we? ‘Taint what you do, it’s the way that you do it. I am reminded of this all the time during yoga, other forms of movement, at work, in my marriage, parenting, etc. So often the best, most “successful” outcomes in any given situation, come not when I do the right thing, or the most sophisticated or smartest or strongest or most advanced or perfect thing...but when I am fully there in whatever it is. When there is connection, authenticity, and deep intention behind it. Sometimes there is such (self-imposed) pressure to do, say, produce, entertain...when really the greatest gift we can give to others and ourselves is presence.
The next time you’re brushing your teeth or doing a puzzle with your 3 year old or walking your dog or reaching your arms above your head...I invite you to DO IT. In a way that is divinely connected. In a way that feels meaningful. Even if it’s a seemingly mundane activity. There is magic in the mundane. There is beauty in the basics. There is sacredness in the stuff of every day life.
‘Taint what you do, it’s the way that you do it.