by Kimberlea Chabot
A lump in my throat. Restless, fitful sleep. A pit in my stomach. A month ago, I greeted the news of being asked to be a speaker at a storytelling event with excitement and enthusiasm. Now, as the date approached, I was slightly nauseous and very nervous.
Three days before the event, I realized I had scheduled a lunch date with Miranda Chapman, a master teacher at Copper Beech Institute. I first met Miranda at Copper Beech and was immediately drawn to her energy. During her yoga classes, I felt as if her voice unlocked places deep in my heart, like listening to the dynamic sounds of a Mozart concerto for the first time. I had been looking forward to learning more about Miranda’s upcoming one-day workshop called, “Presence and Play: Meditation in Movement” and to simply catch up. However, at that very moment, I felt like I was on the verge of breaking out in to full-body hives. I wondered if I should cancel. Did I need the time to practice my presentation? Again. Over and over. One more time. I shook off the thought. I decided the best idea was to go to lunch. Miranda had always been an incredible source of both inspiration and grounding—two things I was in desperate need of at the moment.
“It is exciting to be on campus during the summer when it is beautiful and just a magical place,” Miranda said. “My day retreat is about playfulness and how to bring this quality of light-heartedness into practice.”
This is the first summer that Copper Beech is offering events like daylong workshops and concerts.
“The retreat will allow participants to notice when you get into a place where you are really burdening yourself with stories and you become overly attached to what something should look like or how it should be,” said Miranda. “When we find ourselves in this space, we have a very distinct desire to compare ourselves to other people, or to previous versions of ourselves or future version of ourselves. This can become incredibly heavy and starts to build this unhelpful seriousness around us. I know this from my own practice when I was focused on how I can prove myself. It wasn't a light-hearted energy. There was no humility in it. I have always liked looking at playfulness in adult life and how we can find moments of pure joy.”
This one-day retreat will include traditional yoga poses and meditation, but also creative practices to welcome in playfulness and laughter. Miranda is masterful at creating a welcoming space and building a safe environment. I love that she “walks the walk” in her own life, too. Miranda shares her gifts by traveling to the Hartford Correctional Center and other underserved populations in Hartford through the generosity of an Aetna Foundation grant.
Not adverse to hard work or tough situations, Miranda and her husband have spent the last year building their house with their own hands while living in a trailer on their land. She recently returned from a two-week silent meditation retreat.
“The effervescence of being alive that is inherent in play and the quality of presence invites us to find the balance between all of these elements in our lives,” Miranda says.
It reminded me of the quote from Albert Einstein, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Play allows us to find the intersection between these two ways to live by remembering the magnitude of the gift we have been given while inviting curiosity and child-like wonder into our days.
As Miranda’s words sank in, I realized I had been taking myself way too seriously and I had forgotten the element of play! My mind had become rigid by reciting my story over and over for the event. I knew every word, but it wasn't coming from my heart. I had been focusing on how I would perform instead of how to be fully present. Play is a form of doing something with your whole being and being so present that you are unaware that your body, mind and heart are in alignment. The upcoming storytelling event would be filled with an audience that would want to play!
I could feel my excitement again. By taking on this light-hearted approach, my words would be able to be felt, not just heard.
With a hug good-bye, I was thankful for our time together. I realized how easy it is to let my mind create stories that don't serve me. I also realized how a simple conversation while being fully engaged can shift my energy. As each day spills into the next, it is important to take the time to find more ways to welcome play!