Category Archives: happiness

Come Dance with Me

“You’ve got to move to change the state you’re in.”- The Levins

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”

~ Rumi

Dance Sweet Hafiz

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul”

~ Martha Graham

“Life is the dancer and you are the dance.”

~ Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

Calvin and Hobbes

This past Sunday, Julia and I joined some friends at The Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County where Stephanie Miner-Berger of another group called Peace Forest Sanctuary led a guided dance celebration for a multi-generational community with the help of DJ K.  She picked very specific songs that would appeal to the range of folks there.  It was done with such a purity of intention, it engaged people without having them feel self-conscious or instilling a need to demonstrate ego or prowess. It brought me back to all the weekly parties my friends and I would throw during high school and college. We were able to almost fuse our hearts together as a group because our love for one another was able to dance freely.  There is a freedom in dancing that takes you out of your intellectual grasp of reality and opens you up in ways you are not even aware of.

During the cool down yesterday, we were asked to make eye contact and sing “Lean on Me” to various people in the circle. My friend Michelle was next to me and there was such a generous earnestness in her connection with me that even before we got to the line, “no one can fill those of your needs that you won’t let show,” I was so chocked up that I could no longer sing or look at anyone. I have certainly sung “Lean on Me” hundreds of times but there was something about the intention of this community dance combined with the direct contact with an honest friendship that broke me open.  It made me realize that we hold on to so much. We may not be a stiff-upper lip society but even if we do express ourselves and have people to talk to, we are taking on what is being broadcast all around us as well as our mind’s minute to minute updates.  We are inundated with information and suffering that we have no way of fully processing or understanding. Even with the desire to heal and be healed, there is no way to do that intellectually.  This is of course one of the best reasons to take up meditation but there is also something about dancing that puts you in the seat of Being where the internal meets the external.

Shiva dancing

Someone reminded us after the dance of the Hindu myth where Shiva dances the universe into creation. Buckminster Fuller said that “God is a verb, not a noun.” When we are dancing, even if we were not able to physically move a muscle, we open ourselves to being a part of that same verb.  This of course reminds me of Daniel Ladinsky’s rendition of Hafiz’s poem “The God Who Only Knows Four Words” and The Levins’ lyrical take on it called “Every Child”:

Every Child– Hafiz/Ladinsky/Levin © 2013

Every child has known God. 

That’s quite a claim.

For they don’t know God

as a ‘God of Names’,  

as a ‘God of Don’ts’,  

a ‘God of Shame’,

of stormy moods or any strange behavior. 

Not a king or a queen, a giant, tyrant or savior.

But every child knows God.  Not as someone you can see,

But the God who only knows four words:

Come Dance with me!  Come Dance with me!

Come Dance!  Come Dance!  Come Dance!      

 —with me.  Oh, Come Dance with me!

(Listen here)

Come Dance with Me

May your stillness give way to a peace that cannot help but trip the light fantastic.

Shining out while standing within

Grateful for the Love Revolution

“Until we learn to love ourselves, we create space in our lives to manifest all these things to justify why we have no time to love ourselves. “ – Matt Khan

sharonsalzberg

Last week Julia and I went to see Sharon Salzberg, who talked about the power of meditation.  She said the key was “give yourself the compassion to start over a thousand times in one sitting when your mind wanders, to lovingly bring it back.”  She talked about focusing on your breath while directing loving-kindness towards yourself.  In her book Real Happiness, she uses Linda Stone’s term “Continuous Partial Attention”. This refers to our not wanting to miss out on anything…so we are on our phones, texting, checking Facebook, remaining busy which creates an “artificial sense of constant crisis, of living in a 24/7, always-on world.”

Taking time to check in and be with ourselves beyond the list of things that must be done allows for the inner space to merge with our external reality.

Julia and I were playing at the NY Center for Spiritual Living this weekend and the talk focused on “deciding to be grateful on the days we really don’t want to be.”  The prompt was to write down what is making us unwilling to be grateful, allowing it to be there and still finding things to be grateful for.

At the end of the service, a young woman, who was smiling and beaming at us while we sang, stood up with something to share. Months ago, she said she had purchased three of our CDs because she was pregnant and wanted to play something beautiful for her baby to hear.  Sadly, months into her pregnancy she had a miscarriage.  The music she initially bought for positive reinforcement suddenly became music that she turned to for healing.  The song she especially bonded with was a song from our Hafiz album, “The Sun Never Says” (The sun never says to the earth: “You owe me.”  Look what you can do with a love like that. It lights up the whole sky.”) She said that when she miscarried, she continued to play the song to nurture and remain connected to her child and to the beauty that surrounds her.

This woman was radiant in her gratitude as she stood in front of everyone and shared this …and it broke us open.  I thought that it was certainly Hafiz that had reached and sustained her but how many signs do we need on a daily basis to remind us to be grateful and loving?

My friend Angie turned me onto Matt Khan, who is the Jack Black of enlightenment.  Matt has a video called Love Revolution and he says:

“You are the one who can rewrite your brain chemistry and all you have to do is love your heart on a regular basis. Relentlessly.  When you love your own heart, you are loving all hearts simultaneously. Transform reality inside out.

We want heaven on earth we sit around waiting for, “Ok who’s going to do it? There’s billions of people on the planet, anyone want a crack at it? I’ll cheer you on.”  No, we’re going to build this thing together. Together but individually.

…Creating new patterns in your subconscious mind by making “I love you” the most popular thing you say to yourself.  And you become the safest person for you to be around. Because the magic is when you become the safest person for you to be around you will never feel unsafe around another person because you will always be there with you.”

Matt Khan- Love Revolution:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFS84Jp1qfc

Matt Khan Love that

Julia noted that the Love Revolution reminds us like Sharon Salzberg, that it comes round again and again so we can give ourselves the compassionate permission to start a thousand times in one sitting; to love ourselves again and again when we get drawn into “Continuous Partial Attention”.

Let me say sincerely that I am so grateful for you.  As hard as it is to bring back our attention to loving ourselves, may we all succeed and radiate our beauty fully.

A slice of the Pi and the question of happiness

Since there are no squares in nature, we are hip enough to connect our straight-edged thinking with the natural curve of things in divine proportion.  Everything comes around.  Last weekend was a happy pi slice that reminded me how many ways there are to connect to the circle.

On Friday, I was asked to cover the end of the adult service for the cantor at one of the temples I lead Tot Shabbat for.  Part of the talk was about how when parents are asked what they want for their children, most of the time the answer is for them to be happy.  The speaker suggested that we could be more concerned with them being good. It reminded me of the ethical aim of Judaism.  The thought that we don’t have to do all the work but have to do our part in repairing the world, helps us remain centered when things aren’t happy. By striving to be kind, loving and helpful, there is a deeper happiness that we get in the process.

Saturday was our NYC Trust CD release party.  Throughout the process of making this album, Julia and I have kept asking ourselves, “What’s the name of this CD?” “Trust.” “Oh yeah, right.” Trust the process. We heard from many people that they weren’t going to be able to make it and although we treated for a full house, we were a bit nervous.  Then the doors opened, and friends poured in!  There were friends from our musical community, childhood, college, California friends who had travelled from Vermont, as well as cherished friends we have made here in NY.  The performance was strengthened and charged with the love that filled the room.  It was truly a gift that we will savor.

On Sunday morning, we sang at the NY Center for Spiritual Living, (based on Science of Mind teachings by Earnest Holmes.) where a gentleman named Court gave a talk on prosperity.  He had many good points, some of which were:

  • Take time in the morning to have an intention for the day and ask for a sign to be shown to you concerning your intention.
  • Mass consciousness diminishes Self, so instead of engaging in negative water-cooler talk or taking on the weight of the news; make sure you are connecting with your inner truth.
  • Never give up despite appearances; you can be right on the brink of a break through.
  • If you want to be rich, stop shopping at Thrift stores; you are giving the universe mixed signals.  He said he will sometimes walk through Tiffany’s or the Museum of Modern Art to align himself with a feeling of beauty and affluence.  Of course, the places that will do that for each of us will be different.
  • “Never limit your life with your past experience.”- Earnest Holmes
  • “What you want is irrelevant, what you’ve chosen is at hand.”  -Mr. Spock/ Star Trek

On Monday, we watched Hector and The Search for Happiness.  We hadn’t even heard of it. It really broke us open and rounded out the ‘question of happiness’ theme that the weekend provided.

Hector and The Search for Happiness:  https://youtu.be/ghCKHlMJoxM

Since I wrote this entry on St. Patrick’s Day,

“May your troubles be less
your blessings be more
and nothing but happiness
come through the door.”

Stream of Light 2/11/15

Fathom endless mirth coming into the cavern of our collective heart; intravenous comfort, translating into shelter like an umbrella that the night sky mirrors.  The unseen movement within thoughts of love cuts the strings of illusion and replaces them with a dance band that knows what song will make our DNA actualize it’s potential out on the floor. We move together, our rhythm generates possibility, generates endless mirth.

Awake to Awake- Yogananda holds up (more than time)