Smile, It's Just Spirituality / by Sophia Chang

Photo by Megan Pangan

Photo by Megan Pangan

Ten years ago I took a ballet class in West L.A. I was still a night owl and the class was on a weekend, in the morning, much too early to be doing tendus.

The instructor called out the counts, looked at the frown knitting my brow, and said cheerfully, "Relevè, and then smile - It's just ballet!"

We burst into laughter.

As humans we can make ANYTHING a life or death matter if we tried - even pliès. But frowning and furrowing our way through isn't a comfortable method - or an efficient one, whether we're dealing with dance steps or religion.

Yes, spiritual wholeness is a serious concern (my main one, in fact), but we're not going to convince anyone of that by going red in the face. And you certainly won't get there yourself by stodgily refusing to have a sense of humor about it.

When my ballet teacher reminded us we weren't performing brain surgery, he did more than break the class tension. He shook us out of rigidity and into ease. He took our pressures and expectations off the dance, and let us release our bodies to do what they were perfectly capable of doing all along. 

Plus he let us have fun while doing it.

I don't discount the power of a single smile to turn a day around. Or the lightness of a heart to touch another heart - and possibly turn someone's life around. 

In the very least, it can make the ride go just a bit smoother. And isn't that one step closer to the very peace we seek?