Adventures in Meditation…

ImgresI just drove back from a three-day Vipassana (insight) meditation course. And boy are my arms tired! Oh no, wrong punchline. Hmm. And boy are my observational faculties tired! Doesn't work quite as well. And boy am I sick of spinning my wheels! Ha. 

It was a short course. My first, at age 20, was 10 days, silent. You have to do the 10 days before you can do the 3 days, and when you complete it you realize why it's so frickin' long. It's because it takes 10 days to actually get a toe-hold in learning the practice. 

The first part of the practice is just observing the breath. It's crazy to realize how much you breathe–but it's even crazier to realize how much you think. We're sitting (read: meditating) for 6-10 hours a day (sometimes I was sleep-atating in my bed when I was supposed to be upright) and about every other breath I would catch myself thinking again. And about really dumb stuff.

Many of my thoughts centered around my Amazon sales rank for my eBook and schemes for how to raise it. I'd catch myself and reason the whole thing out. "Why am I thinking about this dumb thing? Again?" I'd remind myself that life is really short. Imagine myself in a car accident or frozen under a layer of ice (it was cold down in North Fork), and think, is that the way I want to spend the rest of my time alive on this precious beautiful earth with the birds and the sun and the moon? And then I'd remember a few more people I could invite to download my book. The mind is a tricky trickster.

By the third day, I was really getting in the grove. Even though you're not supposed to, I would talk to myself to keep coming back to the breath or the sensations. "Good," I would repeat over and over again. Or "Keep coming back," just to return my attention. That seemed to help. A song that was featured in my meditation: One of These Nights by the Eagles. Why? I was not turned on or anything. But now I'm listening to the actual lyrics and it seems pretty interesting. More appropriate for a shamanic medicine journey than a Vipassana sit. Or more acurately, the meaning and interpretation would just be a lot different depending on which thing you were up to.

Also, on Day Two, two wolves appeared as I was walking around the pond. Or were they coyotes? I turned the other way and walked as slowly-quickly as I could. One of them started to follow me. "Don't turn around. Don't seem afraid. He can smell your fear. Make noise to scare him away. No. Just ignore them." My heart started to pound. He was two feet behind me, panting. Panting. I finally arrived at the clearing. I was about to yell out, even though the retreat was silent. He darted in front of me, sniffing around for food or water. It was a stray dog. And clearly, this was animal medicine coming right up to me. A sign. A metaphor. Something meaningful. But I don't know for what.

Actually, I'm looking at pictures of wolves online now, and he really didn't look that different from a wolf. Well then. A very personable wolf. 

What’s in a Birthday? Notes on turning a thirty-something

Guess what? Today, I turn the ripe old age of 34! I was just starting to get the hang of 33. "The Jesus year."  

Now, it might be hard to believe… but I wasn't always the comedy rock goddess you see before you today. It's hard to admit that some things have been tough for me – except when I'm on stage… then I apparently love to admit it. But we all want to look good, myself included, and to be respected and to make a good impression. But by doing so, we essentially lie. And my job as a comedian has always been to tell the truth. So here it is.

Yes, I've spent a over decade performing comedy, but it was largely unpaid and for give minutes at a time. It was easy to sleep in until 10am every day. Working day jobs that I didn't really feel passionate about. Since I was little, I had always felt like there was something different, something wrong with me, some way I didn't fit in.

I struggled for many years with an eating disorder, with a love and relationship addiction. It was easier to fall in love with men who had some quality that I wanted to possess, rather than actually developing my own self. Continually disappointed that true love was not forthcoming, I'd eat myself into a fog. And it's hard to pursue your life's purpose and make a real living when you're suffering from a love hangover and a food coma. The emotional vicissitudes were so intense–nothing felt stable or lasting or fulfilling, and I never really managed to create the kind of sustainability or impact or sheer good quality work I longed for, and was afraid I could never have. 

Seven years ago, I hit bottom. Not human bottoms. Ok, I did hit human bottoms. But I also hit low points. And I went into recovery for these various addictions. I've now done volumes of spiritual and growth work, from learning swing dance to doing a series of shamanic medicine journeys, to 12-step recovery programs.

And the most amazing thing happened four years ago. I became ready to cut the crap, and get serious about my comedy career. But this time, I had to walk my own path. And I had to let go of all my ideas and concepts about what "real comedians" do… real comedians perform at dark and drunken comedy clubs where you can literally smell the bitterness and competition… "real comedians" aren't spiritual. "Real comedians" eat ramen and live with 6 roommates. Well, my path, it turned out, was to take what I had learned through 10 years of standup and years of acting classes, and start telling the stories of my life in my own way, injecting humor into the pain and healing with laughter. And, often, inspiring others to take themselves less seriously. 

Last Wednesday, I put on my show "Eat, Pray, Laugh!" at my friend Jim's house. It was one of the best shows I've ever done… and one of the most fun. At the end, they brought out a cake and sang happy birthday. What a gift. That night, I realized: I have worked my ass off to to find my own comedic voice, one that is truer to my spirit than ever. Wow, it's okay to be funny AND earnest AND vulnerable! And I found my true audience–not in comedy clubs, but in alternative venues, theaters, yoga studios, and the houses of friends. God, it feels good to speak the truth and make people laugh like this. It's taken over 20 years to figure out how to embody this kind of truth and humor on stage, but it was worth working for.

 And it's amazing to have it pay off. This past Saturday, I played my highest paying gig ever at the Iowa City Yoga Festival, plus all those expenses paid (!! – flight, hotel, etc.) and they brought my boyfriend out to teach a workshop as well. That, and winning awards like "Best Local Comedian", "Best of the Fringe" and "Best Storyteller" confirms that I actually have found my path, and I'm walking it. But what's most exciting is that I know that, even with all the years I've spent working at it, it's just the beginning.

I recently met Julia Butterfly Hill, who has a totally amazing life story and a powerful impact on the world, and she confirmed for me something I'd been thinking. That we don't have to stop being who we are. Those of us who are different, who don't fit in, we are gifted. We are can be sensitive, intense, frustrated, angry, sad, and we sometimes overflow with passion and desire. And we don't have to change who we are–we just have to learn how to focus our energy in the right place. 

This has become a passion of mine to now share with others. I've developed a new coaching technique that allows you to accurately tap into your higher self, your soul’s deepest source of wisdom. and show you how to integrate it into your life – powerfully, compassionately, & effortlessly. I'm currently calling it Higher Self Coaching – which is designed for people who are tired of going to others for answers, and who just want to be able to access the real answers they know are locked somewhere deep inside, and move forward with clarity certainty. Some of my specialties include life purpose, relationships, and recovery. 

 If you're interested learning how to focus your energy in the right place, to find your own path, your own voice, your own gifts, let's chat – we'll set up a "Get Your Own Answers! Session." Email me, or you can schedule a time online here

Finally… I have several projects in the works that I'm excited to share with you soon. For now, enjoy a little feel-good music, on the house. This is a song I recorded, and it's dedicated to you. 

No matter how well we do or don't know each other, you've been an important part of my path. Thank you for joining me on this journey, and I look forward to walking on the road of life with you. 

Sending blessings for a year filled with laughter and light!

Alicia

Laughter + IVF = Babies

ClownLaughter yoga, it's not quite…

So a study of a couple hundred women undergoing IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) near Tel Aviv found that women entertained by professional Israeli clowns right after embryos were transferred to their wombs had more success in giving birth than those with no Israeli clowns.

The study, published in Fertility and Sterility, found that 36 percent of women with Israeli clowns became pregnant, as compared with the 20 percent of clown-free embryo transfer procedure.   Not surprisingly, women conceiving the conventional way were found to have a much lower success rate with Israeli clowns in their room at the time of conception.  I'm just saying… 

Leader of the study, Dr. Friedler said he got the idea for the study because laughter is a "natural anti-stress mechanism."

Friedler, who is based at Assaf Harofeh Medical Centre in Zrifin, Israel, said,"Patients suffering from infertility undergoing IVF are incredibly stressed. So I thought that this intervention could be beneficial for them at the crucial moments after embryo transfer."

Friedler added that if studies at other centres back up his findings, fertility clinics elsewhere might try it too.  I'm just hoping I'm fertile enough to keep the clowns out of my own uterine activities.  Do you think clowns that speak Hebrew are funnier than French or English ones?

Osho Speaks about Laughter (part 6 of 6)

“There is a Cosmic laughter which comes into being when the whole joke of this Cosmos is understood. That is of the highest. And only a Buddha can laugh like that. These three monks must have been three Buddhas. But if you can laugh the second type of laughter, that is also worth trying. Avoid the first. Don’t laugh at anyone’s expense. That is ugly and violent. If you want to laugh, then laugh at yourself.

That’s why Mulla Nasruddin, in all his jokes and stories, always proves himself the stupid one, never anybody else. He always laughs at himself and allows you to laugh at him. He never puts anybody else in the situation of being foolish. Sufis say that Mulla Nasrudin is the wise fool. Learn at least that much – the second laughter.

If you can learn the second, then the third will not be far ahead. Soon you will reach the third. But leave the first type. That laughter is degrading. But almost ninety-nine percent of your laughter is of the first type. Much courage is needed to laugh at oneself. Much confidence is needed to laugh at oneself. 

For the spiritual seeker, even laughter should become a part of Sadhana. Remember to avoid the first type of laughter. Remember to laugh the second. And remember to reach the third.”

Thank you, Osho.  Om.

Osho Speaks about Laughter (part 5)

[Finishing the story from the last blog] "So for the first time, the two monks spoke and said, ’We are laughing because this man has won. We were always wondering as to who would die first and this man has defeated us. We are laughing at our defeat and his victory. Also he lived with us for many years and we laughed together and we enjoyed each other’s togetherness, presence. There can be no better way of giving him the last send off. We can only laugh.

But the whole village was sad. And when the dead monk's body was put on the funeral pyre, then the village realized that the remaining two monks were not the only ones who were joking, the third who was dead was also laughing. He had asked his companions not to change his clothes. It was conventional that when a man died they changed his dress and gave a bath to the body. So the third monk had said, 'Don’t give me a bath because I have never been unclean. So much laughter has been in my life that no impurity can accumulate, can come to me. I have not gathered any dust.

Laughter is always young and fresh. So don’t give me a bath and don’t change my clothes.' 

"So just to respect his wishes, they did not change his clothes. And when the body was put to fire, suddenly they became aware that he had hidden some Chinese fire-works under his clothes and they had started going off. So the whole village laughed and the other two monks said: You rascal, you are dead, but you have defeated us once again. Your laughter is the last.'"

The last post on Osho tomorrow.

Osho Speaks about Laughter (part 4)

"The second type of laughter is when you laugh at yourself. This is worth achieving. This is cultured. And this man is valuable who can laugh at himself. He has risen above vulgarity. He has risen above lowly instincts – hatred, aggression, violence.

And the third is the last – the highest. This is not about anybody – neither the other nor oneself. The third is just Cosmic. You laugh at the whole situation as it is. The whole situation, as it is, is absurd – no purpose in the future, no beginning in the beginning. The whole situation of Existence is such that if you can see the Whole – such a great infinite vastness moving toward no fixed purpose, no goal – laughter will arise. So much is going on without leading anywhere; nobody is there in the past to create it; nobody is there in the end to finish it. 

Such is whole Cosmos – moving so beautifully, so systematically, so rationally. If you can see this whole Cosmos, then a laughter is inevitable. 

[A story] "I have heard about three monks. No names are mentioned, because they never disclosed their names to anybody. They never answered anything. In China, they are simply known as the three laughing monks.

And they did only one thing: they would enter a village, stand in the market place and start laughing. They would laugh with their whole being and suddenly people would become aware. Then others would also get the infection and a crowd would gather. The whole crowd would start laughing just because of them. What was happening? The whole town would get involved. Then they would move to another town. "They were loved very much. That was their only sermon, their only message; that laugh. And they would not teach; they would simply create a situation.

Then it happened that they became famous all over the country. Three laughing monks. All of China loved them, respected them. Nobody had ever preached in such a way that life must be just a laughter and nothing else. They were not laughing at anyone in particular. They were simply laughing as if they had understood the Cosmic joke. And they spread so much joy all over China without using a single word. People would ask for their names, but they would simply laugh. So that became their name – the three laughing monks.

Then they grew old. And while staying in one village. one of the three monks died. The whole village became very much expectant because they thought that when one of them had died, the other two would surely weep. This must be worth seeing because no one had ever seen these people weeping. The whole village gathered. But the two monks were standing beside the corpse of the third and laughing – such a belly laugh. So the villagers asked them to explain this."

Come back tomorrow for the end of Osho's story!

Osho Speaks about Laughter (part 3)

"A joke moves in two dimensions. First it moves in a logical dimension. You can conceive it. If the joke goes on logically to the very end, it will cease to be a joke; there will be no laughter. So suddenly the joke takes a turn and becomes so illogical that you cannot conceive it. And when the joke takes a turn and the result becomes illogical; then the expectation, the tension that was created in you, suddenly explodes. You relax. Laughter comes out.

Laughter is the relaxation. But tension is first needed. A story creates expectation, suspense and tension. You start feeling the crescendo. Now the crescendo will come. Something is going to happen. Your backbone is straight like that of a yogi. You have no more thoughts in the mind. The whole being is just waiting. All the energy is moving toward the conclusion. Suddenly something happens which the mind could not think of. Something absurd happens – something illogical, irrational.

The end is such that it was impossible for logic to think about it. And you explode. The whole energy that had become tense inside you suddenly gets relaxed. Laughter comes out through this relaxation. ”Man is bored. Hence he needs laughter. The more bored, the more laughter he will need. Otherwise, he cannot exist.

Thirdly, it has to be understood that there are three types of laughter. The first is when you laugh at someone else. This is the meanest, the lowest, the most ordinary and vulgar when you laugh at the expense of somebody else. This is the violent, the aggressive, the insulting type.  Deep down this laughter there is always a feeling of revenge."

Up next, Osho describes the other two types of laughter…

What if your fancy liberal arts college had a preschool extension school?

College Preschool Extension School Course Catalog

    Haveli College Preschool Extension School (HC PES) classes commence this spring. Here we have compiled a sampling of course descriptions.

    EXPERIMENTAL SCHOOL OF EXPERIMENTAL INTERDISCIPLINARY EXPERIMENTALISM

    ESEIE 103 TOPICS IN AESTHETICS: THE SAND CASTLE (prof TBA)

    In this proseminar, we will examine the sand castle and its predecessor, sand. We will take a survey approach to the history and technique, and end with a focused study of the drip castle, the moat, and found object placement (along with Freud's modification to this technique: found object displacement). Special attention will be given to the practical applications of the sand castle. There will be a $50 lab fee, for sand. Prerequisite: Public Accounting. Class will meet once a week for a hundred and twenty minutes, and students must attend the weekly sea-lab. Enrollment is limited to 15 students. Thursday 1:20-3:20

    EXPERIMENTAL SCHOOL OF GENERIC INTELLECTUAL EXPERIMENTALISM

    ESGIE 238 PLAYGROUND THEORY (prof TBA)

    In this course, we will examine complex notions of 'play' as it relates to the first-grader in terms of socioeconomic background. We will look at studies on working-class first-graders and first-graders of color at the 'play'ground which show a recent trend for an increasing sense of upward mobility, especially when near the ladder to the slide. Readings will rely heavily (but not too heavily) on Scooter B.'s Derridian reading of Morrison's 'Heterosexism and the Seasaw'. Also, we will look at the queer subtext of Foucault's 'Critics of the Tire Swing: What Matters Who's Swinging', in which Foucault shifts the mode of questioning from 'why are we dizzy?' to 'who is getting dizzy?' and 'on whom are the Dizzy hurling?' Finally, we will examine the 19th century colonization of the swingset by second-graders, and look at its' effect on playground structure (a post-structuralism of sorts). Prerequisite: at least one course on Topics in Aesthetics. Enrollment open. Tuesday and Thursday 1:30 to 2:50

    EXPERIMENTAL SCHOOL OF EXPERIMENTAL SOCIALISM

    ESES 189 NAPS OF THE THIRD WORLD (prof TBA)

    This couse will take a critical look at napping conditions in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Central America. Our focus will fall on the 1976 nap revolt in Chiapas (a. k. a. 'The Gweat Wevolution' or 'El Napo Grando Stoppo') during which thousands of four-year-olds attempted a coup on Naptime. The dubious coup crumbled around 3 pm when several of itUs foremost leaders fell asleep. What was the deeper significance of El Napo Grando Stoppo's failure? Is there a common thread between this and other unsuccessful attempts? Texts include Naps are for SapsGoodnight Moon, and Dr. Seuss's The Sleep Book. There will be positively no sleeping in class. Enrollment is open. Tuesday and Thursday 12:50 to 2:20

    EXPERIMENTAL EXPERIMENTALISM EXPERIMENTALIST EXPERIMENTS

    EEEE/ESES 278 DOCTOR, HOUSE, COWBOYS, AND INDIANS (prof TBA)

    This course is cross-listed and will be team taught in order to combine a theoretic background on social programming of archetypal make-believe narrative and a course in creative writing. After examining various texts on make-believe, imaginary and fantasy play of the post-toddler, students will be guided through a process of hypnosis and drunken free-writing sessions, uncovering hitherto hidden truths about our own childhood. Especially important in this course will be the concept of 'false memory'; I think it's a crock. In the beginning, we will rely heavily on some of the lesser-known (read: stupid) writings of Carl Jung ('Let's Pretend!') and Sigmund Freud ('I Like Little Boys' and 'The Natural Tendency Toward Incest'); each day we will try to use Frued less and less until we no longer need him at all. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Psychoanalysis. Limit 25 students. Tuesday and Thurdsday noon to 5:00 

Osho Speaks about Laughter (part 2)

If you ask the question, "What is the meaning of it?", you will feel meaningless. And when meaninglessness is felt, one will be bored. Animals are not bored. Trees are not bored. Rocks are not bored. They never ask what the meaning and purpose of life is. They never ask; so they never feel it is meaningless. As they are, they accept it. As life is, it is accepted. There is no boredom. Man feels bored. And laughter is the antidote. You cannot live without laughter; because you can negate your boredom only through laughter. 

You cannot find a single joke in primitive societies. They don’t have any jokes. Jews have the largest number of jokes. And they are the most bored people on the earth. They must be bored; because they win more Nobel Prizes than any other community. During the whole of the last century, all the great names are almost all Jews – Freud Einstein, Marx. And look at the list of Nobel Prize winners. Almost half the Nobel Prize winners are Jews. They have the largest number of jokes.

And this may be the reason why all over the world Jews are hated. Everybody feels jealous of them because they win every competition. When you cannot compete with someone, hatred is the result. Jews must be feeling very bored. So they have to create jokes. Jokes are the antidote for boredom.

Laughter is needed for you to exist. Otherwise, you will commit suicide. Now try to understand the mechanism of laughter and how it happens. If I tell a joke, why do you laugh? What makes you laugh. What happens? What is the inner mechanism? If I tell a joke expectation is created. You start expecting. Your mind starts searching for what the end will be. And you cannot conceive the end.

More from Osho coming up…