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.

Letting Go and Lightening Up

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For years, I taught a workshop that included a guided imagery experience where participants, in their mind’s eye, emptied every room in their house and placed the contents of those rooms outside onto an ever-growing pile of belongings. I also had them visualize how big a nomad’s pile might be if he did the same thing.

Can you imagine creating that kind of a pile for yourself, i.e. removing every item from your living room, bedrooms, kitchen, bathrooms, dining room, basement, garage and every other room in your house and turning it into a mountain of belongings?  How big would your pile be?  Do the same process for a nomad. How does your pile compare to the nomad’s?

Next, I had the participants add all of the earth’s resources they believe they use in a year’s time to their piles, and asked them to “see” the nomad doing the same.

What would your pile look like if you added all the food you eat, the trash you discard, as well as all of the water, oil, natural gas, gasoline, wood and other resources you use in a year to your other belongings? See the nomad doing the same thing. How does your pile compare to the nomad’s?

Through that guided imagery, I hoped to give the workshop participants a sense of the “weight” belongings may add to their lives. I also wanted to give them a taste of the difference between wants and needs. Many attendees left that workshop with plans to organize a garage sale as soon as possible!

Does seeing your mountain of belongings give you a sense of being burdened or weighed down? How many of your belongings are wants and how many are needs? How many of your wants are very important to you?

I have lived in the same house in Seattle since 1973. You can imagine how much “stuff” I could have accumulated in 42 years. I have always valued experiences over material belongings though, so have used my financial resources to take trips to India rather than buying a lot of material possessions.

Even so, over the years my shelves, drawers, and closets filled.  Around eight years ago, I decided I was going to give away anything I hadn’t used in the last five years, unless I planned to use the item in the near future. One of the articles I gave away at that point was a loom I had purchased in 1974. I hadn’t used the loom since my children were born. For decades, I told myself I would start using it once my son and daughter grew up and left home. They both moved out in the 90’s and I still hadn’t use the loom, so in 2007, I added it to my “to go” pile. I did a major purging of stuff that year.

Several years later, I felt compelled to go through my belongings again. This time I wanted to create an empty shelf every place in the house where shelves were located. I loved the sense of relaxation and peace I felt when I gazed at those open spaces. The shelves stayed empty until I decided to take in a roommate; at that time the empty shelves were needed for the roommate’s possessions.

Last year, I again felt pulled to reduce my belongings. The desire was so strong I wondered if something was about to happen.  Was I going to be moving? Was I preparing for my impending death? (I have no terminal disease but fantasies can take any form!) I still don’t know the “why” but even as I write this post, my yearning to further decrease my possessions is stronger than ever.

Now I am giving away anything that I haven’t used in the last two years unless I have a strong desire to keep it.  Once again, I have become a regular at the Goodwill drop off station!

I am loving the sense of lightening-up I am experiencing as I continue to let go of personal belongings I no longer need or want!

A Favorite Prayer

Many years ago, I was given a handout at a workshop that contained this prayer.  I laughed when I read it then and I laugh when I think of it now.  I can so relate.

I believe finding humor even in a dark or frustrating situation can help us lighten up.

 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

 

Oh Lord,

Please help me make it through

this self imposed

and totally unnecessary challenge.

(Author Unknown)

 

 

Written for Dungeon Prompts: Using Our Words for Spreading Joy