house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

On Words and Power

I'm not sure that living is an art. I have an inkling it might be a gift, a habit, a quest or a random series of tasks. In my case, there's that plus coffee and plus words.

An 'Art of Living' course also appears to be a series of tasks: yoga, breathing, meditation, discussions, games. The most important thing being that you allow yourself the time to do them day after day after day.

I must admit I'm not good at any of that. I fidget. My mind wonders - and wonders mainly if it shouldn't be doing something else. If it shouldn't be dragging me elsewhere. Lists of unfinished stuff trickle in and gradually take over.

Ok, modern life doesn't exactly nourish our spiritual side. The Art of Living reveals it, revels in it. And it's fascinating to see how much people hunger for it.

At the Art of Living, before learning a breathing technique we were told it would unlock some powerful emotions: 'Some people may find themselves crying', the teacher said, 'others may laugh. Just let yourselves feel these emotions, have these reactions. They are for a reason.'

All cryptic and compelling. We performed the breathing exercise, then lay on our backs in deep relaxation. Loose-limbed and light-headed, I perched on the rim of my being and regarded my supine self through a turquoise lens filled with sunshine. It was truly lovely. Just then a suppressed sob stabbed at the silence to my left. Followed by some sniffling. Followed by what clearly signaled a complete capitulation: the man simply wailed like a toddler, on and on.

The blue lens of my peace shattered and I found myself tossed about in a storm of sound. Others had hurried to join the sorrow, but at this point a laughing camp had also formed and was winning the battle of decibels:  the hall sounded rather like a night hunt in the savannah.

This went on for minutes and left me mute and pinned to the floor. I felt many things, but suspected none of them - not the annoyance, not the amusement, not the fascination - were the result of my personal quest for the power within.

The next day, I eased myself into the same breathing sequence with some dread. I shouldn't have worried: the teacher did not mention our possible reactions to the exercise, and surprise - there was no reaction. We did the same exercise, we relaxed. The room remained quiet (yep the smile on my face made no noise).

Please don't condemn the smile: I had just discovered how much of the 'power within' lies in words. Words can suggest, can plant emotions and that's enough: people will leap to feel them, people will weep and laugh and reach their individual catharsis. And I smiled to know that my own quest has always been to learn to use this power, to use words like a mirror that captures the whole sun and turns it round and points it at the sea of souls.

And if that remains elusive, at least get me some coffee.

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