A Treasure for Me

I laughed when I saw that today’s Daily Prompt is Chuckles. I also thought of the old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” That is exactly how I feel about dandelions this time of year.

Two days ago, I saw this strip of dandelions near my home. It was at least 50 feet long and maybe more. Throughout the winter, I have been going to the grocery store to pick up lettuce that is going to be discarded. I feed it to the worms in my vermicomposting bins. The worms seem to be losing their enthusiasm for the lettuce, but they love the fresh dandelion greens.

The problem with the dandelions in this field is that it is part of light rail property and is completely fenced in. I have no way to access it, so I have to be satisfied with using the dandelions in my yard and the few that are on the street side of the fence.

Even though I know that it is important for me to focus on what I have, rather than what I don’t have, I have no doubt that I will still look longingly at the treasure that is beyond my grasp whenever I pass this field.

Letting Go of Suffering- Week Seventeen: Lighten Up!

The more we become immersed in suffering, the more difficult it may be to get out of it. Sometimes it may feel as if we are being pulled down into muck. In this course, you have learned many techniques for letting go of suffering. This last lesson will be about consciously working to “Lighten Up!”

One of the ways to lighten up is to do things that will make you laugh. Decades ago, I gave one of my psychotherapy clients a toy frog and encouraged her to carry it around with her when she was suffering. She was irritated with me at the time, but soon thereafter brought clown noses to group and distributed them. She wore hers whenever she realized she was suffering and found that it helped her to lighten her mood. I imagine seeing her also helped lighten the mood of a lot of other people!

Many years ago, I learned a technique from a therapist named Mary Goulding. She instructed us to push our tongues into our cheeks and then talk nonstop about all of the things we were suffering about. When we say those statements that way, they may lead to laughter instead of suffering.

Another way to lighten up is to talk about the problems that are bringing us down in a dramatic and highly exaggerated way. This past December, I was at Amma’s ashram in Amritapuri, India when the the Western residents performed their annual Christmas play. There was a point in that play when an actor portrayed his suffering in a way that resulted in the audience bursting into laughter. To me, the scene and the song that went with it, are a perfect example of this type of lightening up. Listen to the song and see if it might be a useful tool for you to use in the future!

You may also help yourself to lighten by going for a walk, immersing yourself in  nature, going to a movie, reading a book, watching a funny movie, or listening to music.  In the balloons below, write your favorite ways of lightening up.

Every day this week, spend some time practicing ways to lighten your mood. At the end of the day, journal about your experience.

Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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Day 4

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Day 5

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Day 6

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Day 7

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As I mentioned in the beginning, this is the last lesson in the Letting Go of Suffering series. Thanks so much for participating in all or part of it. I hope you find the tools you have learned during the last seventeen weeks helpful in your life journey.

Sometime this week, I will be publishing a post that will provide links to all of the lessons, and will put a widget on the sidebar that will link to that list. I will also be publishing a poll asking some feedback questions.

 

To find all of the lessons in this series click here.

Photo Credits: Pixabay.

Lighten Up!

It has been said that laughter is the best medicine. I believe there is truth in that statement. It certainly helps us in lightening up, if we engage in activities that make us laugh.

There were two scenes in the recent Amritapuri play that made me laugh out loud. The songs that accompanied the scenes were also funny.

In one scene, a group of very young children dressed up as pigs.

During the finale,  one of the “piggies” got so excited that she started jumping very high. The crowd loved it.

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Here is the funny song that went with the scene.

The other scene that brought laughter was very different. It was the scene when Matthew, the prodigal son, reached the lowest part of his despair. He had lost all of his belongings and was working for a man in exchange for food.

While his life situation was in no way funny, the song that went with it, and the way the actor played the role, made it a very funny scene. As a psychotherapist, I know when we are feeling down, if we start talking about the situation in really grandiose, i.e. exaggerated “Poor me” terms, we may start laughing. To me this song and scene are a good example of that. While I can’t show you the video, I can share the “Poor, Poor Me” song in addition to the photos above.

I know that listening to these songs and looking at the pictures will help me lighten up when I am feeling mopey and victimy in the future. I hope they do the same for you.

To see all of the posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.

Finding Peace in the Middle of Chaos

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It is not uncommon for my mind to be chaotic even when I am in a peaceful setting. I long to get to the point where my mind is at peace regardless of how much chaos is around me. I have a long way to go to meet that goal.

I am getting plenty of opportunity to work on that issue in my Amritapuri Tai Chi class. Tai Chi, by its nature, is meditative. It slows down my mind and body more than anything else I have ever done.

I would guess that most Tai Chi classes are held in peaceful settings with soft music playing or silence in the background. The place where our class meets in Amritapuri is gorgeous. There are palm trees, views of the beach and the Arabian Sea, eagles flying overhead, etc. As I’ve mentioned before, though, there are also trucks, bicycles, buses and cars that occasionally go through the space where we meet.

With most of life’s lessons, it seems like once you have adjusted to one level, another dimension is added. This year has definitely demonstrated that process. During my first class, I was stung by a red ant. It is amazing how much a bite by a tiny ant can hurt. In fact, the bite was still stinging hours after the class finished.

Soon thereafter, a red ant hill showed up at the perimeter of the space we use for the class, so it has been important for me to stay conscious of that danger, and to make sure new students are made aware of it. (I have stepped on a red ant nest twice in the 27 years I’ve been coming to India, once in the daylight and once at night. It is an unforgettable experience; one I hope never to repeat.)

Starting with our second class, students taking a silent meditation retreat have done a walking meditation in front of us during part of our class. They don’t disturb us but I’m tempted to watch them instead of staying focused on my own work.

In last week’s post Be Like a Bird Perched on a Dry Twig, I talked about the third class when there were even more vehicles in the area than normal. Midway through the class, a truck pulled into “our” space and parked. The workers got out of the truck and started carrying their supplies to the nearby construction site. Since their work had priority, we had  to move to a smaller area, one that was bordered by 8 ashram cows lounging in the shade!

Tai Chi is so powerful that it was reasonably easy for me to find that place of peace and contentment even in these circumstances, although I certainly didn’t have single minded focus.

On my fourth class, another set of challenges were added to those that I have already described. (BTW, the cows have not returned to the beach, at least a that time of day, since the third class.) The fourth class was held on a weekend, the first weekend since Amma returned from her European and U.S. tour. The crowds coming for darshan (hugs) were very big that day. At one point, there were 14 vehicles parked on the beach.

Then something new happened. At first, one or two village men started removing carts of sand from the beach to somewhere in the village. Next, two women started a chain. One woman would carry a big pan of sand on her head and walk to a spot next to our class. She would then shift the pan to the head of a second woman who would carry it out to the main road. We often had to divert our path to stay out of their way.

Fifteen minutes before that class was over, a cement mixer started making its piercing noise in the construction area near to us. By that time, the whole situation had become funny.

During the fifth class, a third woman was added to the chain of sand carriers. On the sixth, there were all of the previous challenges, except the cows. In addition, a new layer of sand had been added to our area 0f the beach. The sand was beautiful and felt good on my feet, but it hadn’t been compacted yet, so there was no smooth or level ground to walk on. That made doing the Tai Chi moves much more difficult.

As you can see, doing Tai Chi on the beach in Amritapuri is definitely an opportunity for me to find peace in the midst of chaos. It is also an opportunity to see the humor in the situations that arise in life.

To look at previous posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.

 

Pen Pineapple Apple Pen

Yesterday, I discovered a blog that was new to me, GarimaShares. The blogger and I have several interests in common so today I returned to her blog to read some of her posts. One was about a song that was posted on YouTube on September 24th. The video was watched by more than 8 million people on the first day. As of today almost 116 million people have seen the original video.

Within a day there were other videos of people lip syncing the song. Some that were uploaded on the three days following the original release have more than a million views of their own.

At this point, there are more than 25 pages of YouTube videos. I’m not giving an exact number because I gave up trying to find the end of the list.

I don’t know why this song has become famous, but I’ve just spent 45 minutes looking at videos of it, so beware, it is addicting! 🙂

Be sure to check out GarimaShares too. She is a 20 year old who is going to college in Delhi and writes prose and poetry about travel, art, and life. Her photography is beautiful.

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Shared on Song Lyric Sunday

 

 

Don’t Wait Until…

This post by my friend Arati makes an important point in an unusual way. Enjoy!

Dancing to the Words

To all the familiar voices expounding
I should
I have to
I gotta
I don’t have time
It’s gotta be done today
If I don’t no one else will
If I don’t do this it won’t happen…

Pause

Breathe

Watch a sunset or sunrise
through the branches of your favorite trees
or on the horizon beyond ocean
lake or desert
or reflected in the windows of tall buildings.

Have a cup of tea, herbal or black
decaf coffee, or enjoy the caffeine.
A glass of wine … or not.
Take a moment to sit
to stroll barefoot at the edge of the ocean
river or lake
in a meadow or city park.

Chill, as someone I love would say.

Don’t wait until ….

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