Can you explain the point of the expressive techniques? The Gibberish meditation seems intriguing…
The point of the expressive techniques is to dump out our stress and inner turmoil into a meditation technique instead of taking it out on others or ourselves. These techniques allow us to transform our anger, grief and fear into creativity, inner peace and wisdom. The Gibberish meditation, created by the Sufi mystic Jabbar, is a good example. Stage One: Close your eyes. Put on a blindfold if you can because it helps keep the eyes closed. Start speaking in gibberish, any nonsense sounds. Don’t worry about what you sound like. Just go totally mad. This is therapeutic madness. Make any sounds you like; just don’t speak in a language or use words that you know. Allow yourself to express whatever needs to be expressed within you. Go consciously crazy.
Sing, cry, shout, scream, mumble. Let your body go free, stamp, stomp, jump, skip, lie down, run in circles. Do whatever you feel like doing without harming anyone. Do not let up. Keep a steady stream of sound going. If you are doing this meditation with other people, don’t get distracted by what they are doing. Stay with what is happening with you. If you cannot make loud sounds, for example if you live in an apartment complex, then mouth the sounds silently but with the same force as if you were shouting out loud.
Stage Two: Sit in silence and watch with non-judgment.
Do each stage for an equal amount of time, start with five or ten minutes.
The benefits are:
- Releasing mental and emotional poisons from our body and mind, which is good for our health
- Discovering an alternative to dumping our anger on another individual, thus avoiding a destructive chain reaction
- Learning how to use the energy of anger and transform the anger into creativity and compassion
- Transforming victim-hood into empowerment, thus freeing ourselves from mental/emotional prisons
- Discovering the inner silence, peace and wisdom that reside within us all
How can laughter and play lead to deep meditation and silence?
Laughter releases stress from the body and mind. It’s true, isn’t it? After a good laugh, we feel better. Through the laughter meditation technique, you can make a conscious practice of using laughter to release your stress and help you to drop deeper into inner silence and stillness. Stage one: start laughing and laugh for no reason. Stage two: sit in silence and watch with non-judgment. You can do this for any amount of time that you choose, just do the same for each stage. Laughter serves as a bridge to take us deeper into our inner silence. Laughter is an ordinary experience that can give you an extraordinary experience, a glimpse of no-mind, of meditation, of a transcendence of mind. It can be used as a preparation for meditation. Play focuses on the positive and releases our stress. When we play, we are fully present because we are doing an activity that we enjoy. Play can be whatever it means to you, playing tennis, board games, walking on the beach, going to a concert. Play is doing activities that bring you joy. And joy intrinsically brings us deeper into our inner being, into our true authentic self, into deep meditation.
In what ways are sound and movement important in meditation?
To be beneficial, meditation must be grounded in the body. Humming is a technique designed to open us to trust, to bring us into our inner sanctuary of peace and serenity. As we hum we are generating our own energy to heal and center ourselves. Humming brings us straight down from the head and into the body, keeping us alert yet relaxed. It has a soothing, calming effect as the vibration of the sounds resonates throughout the body/mind. Humming is actually metabolized into natural painkillers, releasing healing agents in the body. It is particularly good for healing the heart on both emotional and physical levels, for releasing emotional distress, and for bringing us to a balanced state of deeply centered well-being. Dancing into meditation is a great way to direct your energy inward. Have you ever put on your favorite dancing music when no one is around and just cut loose? It’s a great way to release tension or unwind. Dancing invokes our joy, our life force energy. Through the dancing meditation feelings can be expressed and creative insights arise. You become like a child again in love with movement for it’s own sake. Feeling free in your body allows your mind to expand, your heart to open, and your spirit to fly.
Grief and pain are difficult for people. Can you talk about healing pain through meditation techniques?
It is often fear that prevents us from allowing and facing pain and grief. The problem with this is that our minds create an extra layer of pain, inducing psychological pain. Mind is of the past and the future, never of the present. Our problems worsen when we think about our emotions rather than actually experiencing them. Reality is never the problem—our ideas about it are. We actually have a tremendous capacity to adjust to reality, but we cannot adjust to the future.
We cannot adjust to something that is not yet a fact. Pain exists because pleasure exists. They are complementary. Without valleys you cannot have peaks; without depth you cannot have height. If you want to avoid pain, you also have to avoid pleasure, because to have life be all pleasure and no pain is not realistic. It’s like wanting two plus two to equal five, but it never will. How do we resolve this? Accept that pain exists as a way to take you deeper into yourself, into wisdom and maturity.
As you sit in meditation and allow your pain and grief, over time it transforms into inner silence, peace and wisdom. Feeling your grief and pain is enormously healing, cleansing and purifying. Even if it seems too much you must allow it, for if you really grieve and go deeply into it, you come out completely fresh and new. Healed. Unburdened.
How do laughter, tears and silence help us find inner peace and enrich our lives?
Laughter is good for us in every way: physically, emotionally, spiritually. Among its many benefits laughter stimulates physical healing, enhances our creativity, is rejuvenating and regenerating and keeps us young. Laughter is sexy, good for relationships, opens the heart, activates the Law of Attraction and gives us a glimpse of freedom from the mind. The conscious practice of laughter meditation brings us deeper into inner peace, joy and wisdom. Tears are the language of the heart. If the heart has become frozen, the tears are the beginning of the thaw. The more we allow tears, the more the heart is melting. When the tears are coming like a flood, we need to learn not to judge them, because with their coming, our heart starts functioning again. It starts getting warm, becomes alive. And as we thaw the garden of our heart, love begins to grow like a flower. Tears are also like prayer. They cleanse our spiritual vision. We shouldn’t try to interpret or analyze our tears. Words are inadequate. If we can allow our tears totally, we become one with ourselves, with our heart. Our spiritual nurturing is fed by the sunshine of our laughter and the rain of our tears. This combination brings the greatest happiness and peace we could wish for. After all the release and expression of laughter and tears we have created a space to drop down into the silence that resides within us. Silence is power. It gives us vision, perspective, clarity. From it arise creative solutions, inner peace and wisdom. Stress and anxiety disappear and we come into a relaxed balance with ourselves and our reality. Our inner silence is a constant source of love and fulfillment which gives rise to a deep sense of inner security. It provides us with an ever-present feeling of being at home, of all-rightness, wherever we are, whatever we are doing. From this place we can see beyond our unconscious conditioning and beliefs and free ourselves up to become more expansive, creative, loving and resourceful.
What are your best suggestions for people new to meditation?
Decide upon the result you want before choosing a technique. Do you want to release physical, emotional or mental stress? Do you want to improve your relationships? Do you want confusion transformed into clarity and a greater ability to focus? Are you depressed or frustrated? Whatever the problem, the variety of techniques in Laughter, Tears, Silence, offer solutions. Through 30 second, four minute, or expressive techniques (for example the laughter meditation) you can transform fear into love, anger into creativity and pain into inner peace and wisdom. The first thing to understand is that meditation is not something apart from your everyday life; it is a quality, a way of being. Any activity done with awareness is meditation. It is not the activity that is important but your awareness as you do the activity. For example, when you take your morning shower, are you fully present? Or are you thinking about the day ahead? When you are fully present, enjoying the hot water on your body refreshing and invigorating you, then meditation is present. You can apply this focus of being fully present to any activity. Then you will be able to easily and naturally incorporate meditation into your day.
Do you sometimes find that you move too quickly and forget details?
As one example, these days so many of us are inundated with emails, and they can be a real source of tension. The next time you write an email, stop for a moment and take a deep breath before you start. Allow yourself to relax by dropping your shoulders down, feeling your feet on the ground, and settling comfortably into your chair. Now write your email, staying fully present with what you are writing and with the person you are writing to. Write in a relaxed way with full awareness. If you are in a hurry, include the awareness that you are in a hurry. When finished, reread the email, checking the content, spelling, and attachments, if there are any. Breathe and pause for a moment before you hit Send.
What can help moms/dads stay more calm while juggling kids, housework, jobs and relationships?
Schedule some time, starting with 5 minutes a day, that is for YOU, and you alone.
Start with a simple sitting meditation and just allow yourself to be there, sitting, eyes closed, doing nothing. Over time you start to feel a calm integrated into your day. If you can, increase the time to 10 minutes and do the gibberish technique.
Five minutes of gibberish(with eyes closed, holler, rant and rave in gibberish using your whole body to release the tension. If you are in a situation where you cannot make loud sounds, make them silently but with the same force as if they were out loud.)Follow this with five minutes of sitting in silence. This technique releases a tremendous amount of tension, including anger and frustration, and brings you quickly to inner calm. You can also do the laughter meditation (five minutes of laughter followed by five minutes of sitting in silence) to release stress and bring back your joy and inner peace. Another suggestion is to do the gibberish and/or the laughter meditation techniques with your children. This will not only benefit each one of you individually, but will help to bring a collective calm, a non-verbal feeling of love and togetherness, to your family. The important thing is to find a way to express, not repress, your feelings. Bottled up emotions create tremendous stress.
Practicing the expressive techniques, even for five or ten minutes a day, is enormously beneficial for your mental, emotional and physical well-being. You will quickly regain your sense of humor, inner peace and wisdom.
How can children benefit from these meditations?
Children need to have a form of meditation in their lives as much as us grown ups do. My experience has been that the expressive techniques in Laughter, Tears, Silence are ideally suited to children. They are already laughing, playing for example. Just offer them a quiet few minutes to sit or lie down after their activity. This will help them calm down, for example before eating or before going to bed or before a math class or a math test! Here are some 2 Minute Meditation suggestions for children:
Gibberish –good for expressing anger, frustration, and also having fun.
Dancing-good for creativity, activating joy and releasing tensions.
Humming- healing for the heart and centering.
The Children’s Mystic Rose-good for laughter, tears and silence.
Running-good for releasing tensions and activating life energy and joy
Playing-good on every level.
Drawing/Painting/Crayoning-good for creativity, relaxation, fun.
The first expressive stage is always to be followed by approximately the same amount of sitting or lying down in silence – or as quiet as they can be. Start with one minute of each stage. My experience is that sometimes children need more time to let off steam and so it might take them a little longer to fall into a collective quiet. Allow them to find it themselves without being authoritative or judging them. Keep it short unless they ask for it to be longer(which they might well do). Make it fun, light, a sharing. Do not use force. If they don’t want to do it, let go of the idea. Suggest it at another time. If the word “meditation” is not appropriate to use in your situation, call them relaxation techniques, fun-time or other wording of your choice. Children naturally and easily fall into a calm, silent place if they have first had an opportunity to take the lid off the pressure cooker and express themselves freely.
Based on the book Laughter, Tears, Silence: Expressive Meditations to Calm Your Mind and Open Your Heart. Copyright © Pragito Dove 2010. You may reprint as long as you include the Byline below and inform Pragito at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pragito Dove is author of Laughter, Tears, Silence: Expressive Meditations to Calm Your Mind and Open Your Heart(2010), a meditation master, keynote speaker, and trainer. Visit Pragito’s website at http://www.discovermeditation.com, email her at email@example.com or call 415.925.9533 for more information on books,cds, trainings, and workshops and to book her services.