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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

One Way Sign

In the past week, I have noticed a recurring theme that harkens back from the past 20- some years in  my life. I have had the opportunity to take a stand, rock the boat, order off the menu and in general, speak up about controversial subjects. Back then, I would have timidly kept my thoughts to myself for fear of rejection or disapproval. These days, I am bolder and more confident. It doesn’t mean I am always right, just in integrity with my values and belief systems. The first one came after I posted something about Laughter Yoga which was created by Dr. Madan Kataria from Mumbai, India who found that by laughing, we use the same muscles that are engaged when practicing yoga and meditating.

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“Hasyayoga is a form of yoga employing self-triggered laughter. The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on the scientific observation that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter, and that both provide the same physiological and psychological benefits. Laughter Yoga combines unconditional laughter with pranayama(yogic breathing). Laughter is simulated as a body exercise in a group; with eye contact and childlike playfulness, initially forced laughter soon turns into real and contagious laughter. The “laughter” is physical in nature, and does not necessarily involve humor or comedy.” (from Wikipedia)

The benefits of laughing are multi-fold and well documented and although this modality doesn’t include asanas (traditional yoga poses), he used the term ‘yoga’ to describe it since it was part of his life path. Friends of mine facilitate Laughter Yoga workshops and had done so at a conference last weekend that I had attended. A facebook friend commented that it wasn’t truly yoga and that by referring to it as such, it diluted the meaning. I responded in explanation and he persisted in indicating that proponents of the practice were misguided and somehow disrespectful of true adherents. Without feeling defensive, I once again offered what I thought was an open minded perspective. After a ping-pong volleying session, I just let it go, agreeing to disagree.

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Last night, I posted an article I had seen about ‘unfriending’ those whose political beliefs would act to restrict other people’s rights. What I added was ” I have such conflicted feelings about wondering if people in my immediate circles would vote for a candidate whose policies would restrict anyone’s civil rights. Would I still want to be their friend?”  It set off a flurry of responses, some saying that it would be small minded to cut people off just because we disagree with their personal beliefs.  Although the majority of those in my life reflect my own socio-political perspective, not all do, including my 25 year old son. Is it challenging to have conversations with them about the state of the world and what might be done to repair it?  Yup. Does it mean that I shut them out of my heart and life?  Nope. Do I express my opinion in ways that might help them see a different perspective, rather than bashing theirs?  I would like to think I do. Am I non-judgemental?  I have to admit that I do sometimes hold “how could you think that?” judgements when it seems that someone wants to dictate who someone gets to love, what gender roles we play, how much money people make depending upon their genetic make-up, skin color and ‘plumbing’  and how a woman takes care of her body.

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What was so telling about my reaction to these two opportunities was that even as my heart was beating a bit faster and my ‘uh oh, what will people think about me now?’ tangent, I was able to feel a strength that I never would have known in my ever more active chameleon-like co-dependent days. Being in the public eye as I have come to be, involves personal responsibility and being true to myself even as I express disagreement respectfully.

For me it is a matter of speaking up if I see what I perceive as injustice (which is a whole ‘nother Bliss Blog entry). As the facebook thread continued, I was reminded of this poem by theologian Martin Niemuller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

 

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Ecstatic Dancer

We are meant to be moving creatures, becoming one with the music of life that dances us. This week, an ecstatic dancer made her way to her next dance floor. Gabrielle Roth, creator of 5Rhythms, took wing and soared beyond this realm, leaving an amazing legacy among her family, friends, colleagues and students. An ‘urban shaman’, Gabrielle had made the world her home, although she was based in the metropolis of NYC.

I had the joy of two encounters with Gabrielle; one in 1995 and one in 1996. The first was when I had attended a weekend in the city that was sponsored by Omega Institute and New Age Journal. Gabrielle was one of the teachers and I eagerly anticipated being in the class and shaking it for all I was worth. On the day of the workshop, I awoke with a pulsating, throbbing, almost blinding headache. In retrospect, I now recognize that it was a reflection of the deep and intense emotional pain I was ignoring. The headache didn’t respond to medication, meditation or massage and I wondered how I would manage the drum beat/heart beat rhythms that I knew would be in the room. Not only did I make it through, dripping with sweat from head to toe, but absolutely headache free and euphoric by the time it was over. I had moved through the 5Rhythms,  from ‘flowing’ to ‘staccato’, into ‘chaos’, past ‘lyrical’ and finally resting in ‘stillness’. Each had its own flavor and qualities. It went beyond words. Under her masterful guidance, I was able to safely traverse each paradigm without thinking my way through anything.I got out of my own way and was able to open and listen with the ears of the heart. I was able to simply BE, which was (and still is at times) a challenge for me.

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A year later, I was thrilled to interview Gabrielle for my magazine called Visions. I will share some of that now. She spoke of how dance had healed her “a million times. Movement causes all healing, whether it’s physical, emotional or spiritual. That’s because God is the dance. You can take refuge there. Just go inside your own energy and move with it. Know and trust that it’s true and real. The fastest way is to still your mind and move your body.”  She described the 5Rhythms as “perspective; a way of looking at life, a map to the creative process. Birth to toddlerhood is a very flowing part of our lives, childhood is staccato, everything is in lines and boundaries, whether we’re writing or throwing a ball, we’re in a staccato period of life. Puberty is very chaotic. Maturity is very lyrical, we hope. The death cycle from 60 and beyond is very still.” She is in ultimate embodied stillness now.

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As I was writing this entry and was on a facebook page honoring Gabrielle,  I came across this article about the idea of Virtual Shiva (sitting shiva is something done in the Jewish religion for 3-7 days, depending on which branch of Judaism you practice. If you are Orthodox, it is a longer period). It is way of both mourning the death of and celebrating the life of a loved one in community. Certain prayers are said and rituals are done. The woman who posted this link, was expressing that even if we don’t personally know people via social media, we can still reach out.

When my parents died (dad in 2008 and mom in 2010), I felt embraced and supported by cyber family, some of whom I may never meet face to face. We are all so interwoven into each others’ lives~  http://www.amotherinisrael.com/social-media-facebook-shiva-mourning/

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Her son and husband had indicated, prior to her death that her favorite mantra was Om Namah Shivaya which translates to:  “I bow to Shiva.” Shiva is the supreme reality, the inner Self. It  is the name given to consciousness that dwells in all. Shiva is the name of your true identity- your self. ” So by chanting this mantra, we are honoring the Divine within. And we honor Gabrielle and her eternal dance.

5Rhythms Gabrielle Roth http://youtu.be/qApDyOZKNbk

 

Photo: Gabrielle Roth 1941-2012<br /><br /><br /><br />
"Our Mama Raven's wings have lifted her spirit from this lifetime and she is in flight to her next journey, where she will dance in our hearts forever."   Jonathan<br /><br /><br /><br />
Fly angel fly!  You shall truly dance in my heart forever  <3

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Gabrielle Roth -Embodiment  http://eomega.org/omega/faculty/viewProfile/1e94b5493579eabbee085e283e4b2352/?so…urce=UTB

 

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When Words Aren’t Enough

We human beings are more than our minds, thoughts and feelings. Our bodies are repositories for our pasts; both pain and pleasure reside as cellular memory. For some, talk therapy is sufficient to work out challenges and traumas. For others, a mutlti-modal approach that includes somatic therapy or body psychotherapy is even more effective. Enter the world of Matthew Cohen, who refers to himself as a ‘somatic educator'; in simple terms, someone whose work is in the second category. A career psychotherapist whose work spans several decades, Cohen is also the author of When Words Aren’t Enough.

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I initially met him when he founded The Body Synergy Institute in the 1980’s and have watched his career blossom and have heard stories of healing that has taken place in the lives of those who have worked with him. A few of his clients graciously allowed for their stories to be shared in this book that is both for the professional who wants to learn more about integrating these concepts into their practice and the lay person who desires to explore more about what makes them tick.

Cohen spreads out a foundation by speaking about professional boundaries, since some of this work involves close physical (but not sexual) contact. He also delves into the idea that spirituality and psychotherapy need not exist as separate realms and that combined, can enhance the recovery process. His own spiritual journey fed his therapeutic strategies as is discussed early on.

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Transcripts of the sessions he did with Jeff and Emily, a couple who unlike many who enter into therapy, were not in major crisis mode, but wanted to enhance what they had already created for themselves, with Cohen as their trusted guide, are placed throughout the first section. Each had physical challenges, such as migraines and back pain that are addressed in both verbal and embodied form. They came to recognize the roots of their relational friction that showed up from time to time.

Randall is an abuse survivor who experienced many years of the trauma of sexual assault perpetrated my several family members. With him, Cohen used what he calls Emotionally Focused Touch. Many who have PTSD, tend to dissociate and even feel as if they have left their bodies. This is a survival mechanism that enables them to make it through the horrors they endured. He was diagnosed with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder that used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder)  In his sessions, Randall came to find that non-sexual, professionally offered touch was not only safe, but body and soul nourishing. He literally came back into his body and felt present in it.

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Gordon arrived on Cohen’s doorstep with a rotator cuff injury. He is an attorney who once upon a time had aspirations of becoming a Jesuit priest, which made it easier for Cohen to make inroads with him, because of his own deep spirituality, even as he had approached it from a different angle. Some of his process involved integrating his relationship with his controlling, alcoholic father whose expectations for his son felt restrictive, a portion of which was symbolized by the ways in which Gordon viewed his journey, not giving himself credit for how far he had come.

At the end of the book, Cohen reviews and summarizes the progress these four courageous souls have made. He has a high degree of respect for them that is evident in this book that in all ways ‘touches on’ the resilience of the human spirit.

www.matthewcohen.us

 

 

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The Miracle of Love

 

I saw this video, called The Miracle of Love this morning by one of my favorite musical divas; Annie Lennox. When I get my hair cut, I often ask for it be styled like hers, since it has a wild woman, punky, faerie-esque look to it and I wonder if I can experience that feeling vicariously even if I am not always quite there in my daily life.  Her voice beckoned me into the day. As I am typing these words, sweet aromas are wafting from the kitchen and sweet sounds from the living room. The first is emanating from the pancakes that my son Adam is making and the second from a two year munchkin who has captured my heart. He is the son of Adam’s girlfriend. Both of them danced into our lives a few months ago. A bright young woman, she has led my sometimes self doubting son into a greater sense of confidence and responsibility. I have never witnessed him being happier than he is with her. Ironically, although over the years, he has balked at some of the values and beliefs of his ‘hippie mother’, Rochelle and I have much in common. She initiates hugs when she comes into the house to visit and when she is on her way out the door. She is studying psychology and we have had many conversations about all kinds of related topics. She is the first young woman he has dated that he actually invites me to spend time with, although, to tweak me, he still refers to me as ‘weird’. Her son, an adorable  brown haired munchkin, delights in Elmo and Mickey, dancing, clapping, hugging, counting (he can count up to 20)  and BUBBLES!  My kind of kid.  He seems never to tire of having one of us blow bubbles and then cavorting in the midst of them, calling them to play, as he pops them.  Last night I did the first of what I imagine will be many babysitting gigs, when they went out for her birthday. He and I hung out a bit before the porta-crib was set up and filled with his stuffed buddies and fleece blankets. Flannel footie pj’s with monkeys decocrating them were his sleeping attire. A sound sleeper, thank goodness; I checked on him a few times throughout the night; it’s been a long time since I have needed to do that, since my son is 25. Whenever Adam or Rochelle point to me and ask “Who’s that?”, he will call out “Mom-Mom!” exuberantly. Not sure I’m ready to be a grandmother, but if this little one want to refer to me with that honorific, I am indeed honored.

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Adam and I had a sometimes tough road to hoe, since being widowed at 40 ( he was 11), I have raised him solo. With all the hub-bub about single parenting since last week’s debate, I can assure you that guns and violence have no place in our home, Adam doesn’t smoke,  has never had a problem with drugs and alcohol, he graduated high school, has been in the working world since he was 18, has aspirations of culinary school, is a self taught cook (and he does it well, I can attest to that, as can family and friends who have indulged in his creations)  and first and foremost, has a good heart. We still butt heads occasionally, since some of our socio-political views are a bit at odds; although I wonder if he sometimes says what he does to bait his left of center, tree hugging, flower child, enviro-conscious mother. Our housekeeping standards are s0metimes polar opposite…how hard is it, I wonder, to put dishes in the dishwasher, rather than leave them on the counter or in the sink, when both are a mere inches from their target destination? Is it too much to ask that cabinet doors are closed once opened or the toilet seat be put down when not in use?  I think not. Humor helps in almost all cases. And when in doubt, I will remember the words to this song~

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The Miracle of Love

How many sorrows

Do you try to hide

In a world of illusions

That’s covering your mind ?

I’ll show you something good

Oh I’ll show you something good.

When you open your mind

You’ll discover the sign

That there’s something

You’re longing to find…

The miracle of love

Will take away your pain

When the miracle of love

Comes your way again.

Cruel is the night

That covers up your fears.

Tender is the one

Who wipes away your tears.

There must be a bitter breeze

To make you sting so viciously-

They say the greatest coward

Can hurt the most ferociously.

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But I’ll show you something good

Oh I’ll show you something good.

If you open your heart

You can make a new start

When your crumbling world falls apart.

The miracle of love

Will take away your pain

When the miracle of love Comes your way again.

The miracle of love

Will take away your pain

When the miracle of love

Comes your way again.

http://youtu.be/yOGD1WkJJok  The Miracle of Love-Eurythmics

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