It was a typical weekday morning and my 9-year-old son and I were killing time before he needed to catch the school bus. He was on the floor playing with a toy, and I was checking my email. But then he came in for a hug – a nice juicy squeeze. He is still a big hugger, for which I am very grateful. As we snuggled, he said, “Mom, you always have the same smell.”
“Must be morning breath,” I thought to myself, “or body odor,” since I was still in my pajamas, had not showered or even thought about brushing my teeth yet. Or, worse yet, maybe it was the lingering stink of my Bikram Yoga classes? I know my yoga clothes always carry a hint of the smell even after several washings. Maybe I do too! With trepidation, I asked him what the smell was.
He was quiet for a moment as if really thinking about it and said, “Happiness. You smell like happiness.” At which point, he grabbed his Rubik’s cube and backpack and ran off to meet the bus. “Bye Mom, love you,” he called as he raced for the door.
I didn’t reply. I was literally struck dumb. Tears welled up in my eyes. Happiness. To my son, I smelled like happiness. To him, I was happiness. What a definitive statement of love. What a privilege. What a responsibility.
Maybe I was overreacting, but even so, I sat motionless for several minutes. I don’t think I had ever felt more loved. Or more relieved that I was not walking around smelling like Bikram Yoga class all the time!
Now, I am a good mom, but no better than anyone else. I love my children, I treat them fairly, but I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Just ask them — they will tell you. But that is irrelevant. Children come into the world loving and open to happiness.
We can learn a lot from them. Each time we walk into the yoga room, we can be open, forgiving, and loving to ourselves. We can breathe calmly in the face of hardship, smile and try again when we fall out of a posture, and allow ourselves to fully enjoy the fruits of our hard work during savasna — quieting the mind as well as the body. Because in the end, isn’t that how happiness smells?
Fellow yogis, do you smell like happiness?