In my last post I was reflecting on the phrase ‘follow your bliss’ and how humour and joy are part of what supports us in our practice. Someone sent me a link to a video recently which made me laugh a lot. I’m reminded how important humour is and how easily in the ‘spiritual life’ one can take on a rather serious demeanour.
A friend of mine is a Sufi and leads laughter workshops. He’s always so happy! And if I think about it the people I know who seem most deeply connected to their practice are also the happiest people I know. My Abbot Ajahn Sumedho would always have a smile and a laugh bubbling not far beneath the surface, likewise other friends in the monastery both monk and lay practitioners. A friend of mine said to me recently he wonders if I need to laugh more. He has a point that my first Abbot who gave me my monastic name might agree with! My monastic name was Bodhinando – the Bliss of Awakening/Enlightenment. I always took it as a reminder that with liberation comes bliss – not a dull annihilation. So perhaps opening to joy and bliss now is a little window into the bliss of perfect freedom.
The video below is great in that it is both a spoof of a spiritual delivery and message and yet also works as a meditation! It’s a great reminder how not to take the rituals and routines of spiritual teachings too seriously. And perhaps at times such humour and language might even be more effective than ‘spiritual’ instructions! If you are offended by mild swearing do not watch!
Today I’ve attached a talk by Ruby Wax. I went to see her show when she was in London recently and this is an earlier version of it. She is a fantastic proponent of mindfulness as she does not fit the stereotype at all! I was at a mindfulness conference a few years ago where she was the final speaker. All of the previous speakers had had an appropriate tone, demeanour and register – calm, softly spoken, speaking form stillness. Then Ruby Wax came on! A few people were late coming in as there had been a break and she looked at them and said “what the F…k, …..”and made a joke about being late! There’s an authenticity to her presentation as I feel the rawness of the place she is speaking from. She is not pretending to be fixed or to be free from the struggles and mental anguish that led to her depression. But she speaks eloquently of the pain and of how mindfulness provides her with a tool to be with it.
As a friend of mine once said of himself “I’m a mess in progress”. Sometimes it helps to hear from someone who is at ease with the mess that they are and is able to share form that place without their inner critic getting in the way and telling them to shut up and put on a good front. The sad thing in life is that we all show our Facebook personas to the world: happy, successful, full of fun and interesting activities. But this is only a part of our life and by this collective act of not sharing from the place where we struggle we are all left feeling that our dark place is a strange anomaly only felt by us. In fact it is what we all feel, it’s what unites us – the fear of our sense of lack, our fear of failure, the thoughts that say we are no good or are only of worth if we keep succeeding and being the best – it’s this that we all share and keep hidden. The result is that we can feel so alone with this secret, and it’s a delight to hear someone like Ruby Wax openly laughing at it and showing how she found her way through by using mindfulness.
I hope you enjoy this, her humour is distinct and may not be for everyone but if you listen her overall message there’s a lot of learning in this half hour.