Although I am not a practicing Buddhist, I have several friends who are and whose example serve as guides for me to live a life in harmony with love and compassion. One such friend is Greg Schultz (a nice Jewish boy who took his Buddhist vows several years ago). He was also the yenta (matchmaker) who opened the door to my interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama back in 2008. For many years, Greg has brought in a group of monks from the Drepung Gomang monastery in India. These men are gifted in the art of chanting and the creation of a circular work of art called a mandala. Each one is embued with prayers for such lofty concepts as healing, love, compassion and enlightenment; but made from matter. They are comprised of tiny grains of colored sand that are meticulously placed in the intricate design. I have witnessed several being constructed. The one pictured above was created this past week at Sun Dog Yoga in Doylestown, PA. The monks spent several days in prayer as they created magic. Once the mandala is complete, it is then deconstructed with the sand pushed into a pile. The once rainbow-hued image becomes a mish mosh of non-descript gray sand. Some of it is placed in a body of water, so to bless it and the rest put in baggies for folks to take home with them. The practical side of me thought to ask how the monks manage to spend days bent over the pattern on the floor. “Don’t their backs hurt?”, I asked my friend Kathy Sweeney who was hosting the monks during their stay in the area this time around. “They get chiropratic work done by Mahan Rishi Singh Khalsa.”, she answered. He is a friend of ours who is an American born Sikh.
The Buddhist concept of impermanence comes into play here, since nothing lasts in the form it was once in. A few years ago, when I was first introduced to the monks and their artistic gifts, it occurred to me that just like that colorless sand at the end, was no less once that gloriously colored medium, so too when we are ‘deconstructed’ at the end of our lives, are we no less the beautiful creations we were born to be. Om Shanti~
http://youtu.be/10084L3Pqsc Construction and Destruction of a Mandala
Most Sunday mornings find me at one of my interfaith communities, called Circle of Miracles. If you have read The Bliss Blog for awhile, you know I speak about it often since it so nourishes my heart and soul. What I love most about it, is that it is a welcoming haven for people who walk diverse spiritual paths. Today was a ‘can’t miss’ because my dear friend Peter Moses was the ‘speaker/spark’ as we refer to the person offering their insights. It occurred to me as I sat mesmerized by what he was sharing that we met 11 years ago around now. Witnessing him today was kind of like watching your child on stage shining brightly. We had co-facilitated workshops together for a time and although he was energetic and engaging, incorporating music and play, he has deepened his presence and his presentation; mellowed and matured. There was a new groundedness to him that I recognized. Part of it, I imagine was becoming a father for the 5th time 2 1/2 years ago to a darling boy named Shane who has become his later in life teacher; having raised his older 4 children to adulthood.
Peter spoke on the idea that we are life itself. He is big on recognizing the idea that we are not our thoughts, our stories, our pain, but they sure can have a field day with us as we move through our days. Galloping thoughts can scoop us up and run away with us before we can even say “Whoa Nellie!” One of the doorways that lead us through the other side of mind chatter, is play and song. Peter is a master of both. He is a kids’ ‘edu-tainer’ and today his audience were all kids in adult bodies. He had us standing up and doing the Banana Song which involved hand movements, becoming various fruits including bananas and oranges. Peals/peels of laughter ensued.
Immediately after the service, I headed to the office of another friend; chiropractor, Dr. Susan Burger. In celebration of World Laughter Day, she led a workshop that incorporated humor, laughter yoga, a movie entitled What’s In A Smile? by Andy DeJohn . One of the coolest experiences came from a workshop she had just attended taught by comedian turned inspirational speaker Kyle Cease. The techique called Kylegoing and came from an ongoing dialogue Kyle had with his friend Diego and so the title combines both their names. I like the sound of it kyle -leggo-ing, because it reminds me of leggos as we put together pieces of our dreams. It is a verbal vision board that has the participants speaking about what it is they desire to manna-fest from the perspective of it already having happened. We stood up in front of the room and waxed enthusiastic about our dreams and visions. I had such a blast speaking about mine which includes writing and speaking internationally and being abundantly compensated, with money to share and donate, spend and save willingly and gracefully, being on the road with my many books, sharing a life of bliss with my Life Partner. I have to tell you that it felt like it indeed had already occurred. I am committing to this excercise daily either with myself or others. I already do it in some form anyway, so let’s up the amps!
As the day is coming to a close, having just come back from the gym, gazing at the Super Moon, plus one night, I am feeling filled to over-flowing with the blessings of love, life and laughter~
Wishing you the same….
http://youtu.be/2EGTETc5oFU Laughter Yoga video
Imagine a healing force that is fat free, calorie free, cholesterol free, portable, ageless, timeless, one size fits all. It doesn’t require a prescription, but IS habit forming, even addictive. Would you want it for the rest of your life? I certainly would and it is an experience I engage in multiple times a day. It’s laughter. It is something that children don’t think twice about and is as natural as breathing.
The first Sunday in May is celebrated as World Laughter Day and folks are invited to join with other ha-ha-ing humans in gatherings near and far. According to the official website:
“World Laughter Day was created in 1998 by Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of the worldwide Laughter Yoga movement. The celebration of World Laughter Day is a positive manifestation for world peace and is intended to build up a global consciousness of brotherhood and friendship through laughter. Its popularity has grown exponentially with that of the Laughter Yoga movement now counting over 6000 Laughter Clubs in more than 65 countries.”
I grew up in a goofy family who would make up silly names for things, offering terms of endearment for each other, and other family memebers and friends. Laughter in the Weinstein household flowed as freely as the water through a running river valley. It is part of what sustained us through challenges and is a loving legacy my parents left me. My friends are funny people too; sometimes even punny people whose comments cause groans and eye rolls. I work in an environment in which humor is essential to keep me ‘sane and vertical’. When I teach workshops and classes, I give out purple feathers to remind people to lighten up and “tickle your fancy, or whatever else you have in mind.” I have an alter ego named Feather who is a faerie-clown who was given birth during a particularly challenging time in my life about 15 years ago. Laughter was a healing balm for my emotional wounds.
My initial experience with Laughter Yoga came when I was introduced to Jeffrey Briar who had been practicing and teaching yoga for years and had made his living from acting. Now he makes his life out of laughter. He came to the Delaware Valley to teach a workshop that would train other folks in this mahvelous modality. I was only able to attend the Friday night intro, but my friend Peggy Tileston completed the training and now offers classes in the Philadelphia area for silly souls who want to think and play outside the box. I have attended a few Laughter Yoga sessions and have felt the residual effects for days afterward.
According to The American Journal of Medical Sciences, Alternative Therapies, Psychology Today,The Scientist of the University of Maryland Medical Center (as cited in The Orange County Register)
Enhances the immune system
Reduces blood pressure
Increases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers
Improves lung capacity and oxygen levels
Provides a massage for internal organs
Is contagious, like yawning
May help prevent heart disease
I can vouch for many of these benefits and I’m sure you can as well. What tickles you? Comedy shows and movies? Comic strips? Humorous books? Jovial jokes? You can tell when you are around people for whom laughter is their life blood. They just glow from the inside out.
Take a look at the websites listed below and find some time on Sunday to join with other merry-making, chuckling, guffawing, mirth-filled, tee-hee-ing, peals of laughter people. Imagine a world in which laughter brought us all together.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOMqqI-kzHY I Love To Laugh from Mary Poppins
A few weeks ago, I saw this photo of these two darlings and couldn’t help but smile at the juxtaposition of expression. The little girl actually reminds me of my friend Georgetta who views the world with heart and eyes wide open as she takes it all in and then scatters the love back out. Now, keep in mind that she is a grandmother, therapist, addictions counselor, who in close succession completed her under grad, grad and doctoral studies while holding down a full time job in a psychiatric hospital and caring for her elderly and quite delightful mother who recently passed. She would regale us with “Lola stories” that kept us smiling broadly too. Georgetta lives her bliss. The little boy is no less blissfilled, just experiencing it perhaps in a quieter more introspective manner.
We are taught that bliss looks a certain way, with a yahhoooooo-jumping-up-and-down-like-a-kid-on-a-pogo-stick energy, when it can also be still and silent. Some of my most bliss-filled experiences have come when sitting in meditation, walking in Nature, engaged in yoga practice or eye gazing with a Beloved. I invite you to take a moment and recall a blissful experience; perhaps in the presence of someone else, or solo. Make it full sensory, as you touch, taste, smell, hear and see everything around you. Drink it in….sluuuurrrpp…. Where are you feeling the sensations connected with your full immersion? Allow the physical and emotional to merge so that you don’t know where each begins and ends. Now carry that with you throughout your day. Any time you are tempted to find yourself (or lose yourself) becoming distracted, overwrought or frustrated, tap into the well you have just filled to overflowing with refreshment.
Make a Bliss List. What items, experiences and people are on it?
Dancing, drumming, singing, reading, writing, yoga, working out,listening to music, meditation, chanting (kirtan), time with loved ones, exploring nature, chocolate, travel, massage, attending and teaching transformational workshops, connecting with kindred spirits, learning new things about life, the universe and everything.
Joseph Campbell encouraged all to “Follow your bliss.” I invite you to BYOB-Be Your Own Bliss…your style, your way, ever evolving in exquisite spirals of light and color, out into the cosmos~
http://youtu.be/LF-HquxImgg Follow Your Bliss by Bryan Rason