Be a lamp unto yourself

magic lamp 4

magic lamp 4

Speaking of the nights drawing in and seasonal affective disorder or SAD, there's something in Gautama the Buddha's words: 'Be a lamp unto yourself'. When our inner fire is fully lit we don't need an external light quite so much!

One of the things that facilitates finding this inner fire, I think, is finding our joy... and learning to live from there! Fellow laughter facilitator Kit Hammond Stapely (who I've already mentioned) and I were recently invited to write an article on the subject for the 50+ Show Magazine, though what we wrote applies equally to any age. I reprint it below for your information:

Live Your JoyWith less obligations and less inhibitions than we had in our earlier years, retirement can provide the perfect opportunity to do the things that we love - that make our hearts sing! And this, say Tonya Stewart and Kit Hammond Stapely, can have positive effects on both our body and our being

It's easy when we get to our latter years to sink into a state of 'same old'. We've 'been round the block a few times', but what some of us don't realise is that if the block we're walking has become a bit humdrum, it's either time to find a new block or at least to plant some flowers in the old one (of course, we're talking metaphorically here)!

Retirement, however, can actually be one of the biggest opportunities we have to really come alive and do the things that 'make our heart sing' – to live our joy! With less obligations - and often less inhibitions – than in our earlier years, we can increasingly learn to let our joy and our passion direct our lives. Whether it's something simple like planting seeds and watching them grow, or more lofty like performing in public, now's the time to find out what lights your fire.

As Goethe is said to have said (the etymology is uncertain – but who cares, it's a damn good quote), 'Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it: Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!' Living from your joy – letting your core self lead you - can light you up like a light bulb, bringing you more fully alive, enhancing creativity and bringing you more fulfilment in life. This is true well-being – and when we are fully switched on, or 'on song', all the forces of the universe come to our aid!

Living from a state of joy is also very good for our health. Even the mere act of smiling has been shown to reverse the stress response in our neuro-endocrine systems and stimulates our brainwaves into patterns of deep healing and longevity. And not only does laughter re-oxygenate the blood, it can also lower blood pressure and levels of blood cortisol (the stress hormone). It also, of course, releases endorphins, the body's natural painkillers.

So how can we reconnect with our joy and learn to live from this place in ourselves? Here are some ideas. Practise them daily and you'll soon see the benefits:Mine the joys of your youth, by giving yourself experiences that remind you of how it felt to be young... plant flowers that delighted you and watch them mature; buy a hula hoop or skipping rope and 'play yourself fit'; play with people (Bridge is fine, but sardines and strip poker can be fun, too); get some balloons, bubbles and string and just have fun!Become friends with your inner child by making some of his/her childhood dreams come true: ride a horse along a beach at dawn; try wild swimming and camping in out-of-the-way places; drive through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in your hair.

Compile a CD or Spotify play list of music that makes you want to dance and play it regularly, abandoning yourself to the feelings it stirs up in you, letting the music take your body to new places and experience the joy of being truly alive - living from the centre of YOU. Start tuning into 'what's alive in you'. What does your spirit want to do, or, to put it another way, what wants to move inside you right now? Then do – or say – that thing. At first this may be difficult to identify, particularly if you have lived for others for most of your life. But once you get into the swing of it – and are attentive to that impulse and act on it - you'll begin to feel more alive than you ever have before.Go and do anything that 'turns you on'. It may be going out in nature and wiggling your toes in the cool grass and breathing oxygen into every cell of your body and being. It may be something dramatically different!Meditation's also a good one for contacting your joy.

Why not try laughter meditation, or even join the Telephone Laughter Club for a 7am laugh every morning with others! Contact Lotte lotte.mikkelsen@laughternetwork.co.uk or phone 07736 341 717 to find out more.And if you need further help reconnecting with your joy, why not try a laughter workshop? Find out more at www.laughternetwork.co.uk

Because happiness is not something you can pop a pill to attain – it's a natural by-product of living life from your core self – from your joy. Move towards a lifestyle that fully expresses you and give your spirit a chance to soar!

'Walk in the rain, jump in mud puddles, collect rocks, rainbows and roses, smell flowers, blow bubbles, stop along the way, build sandcastles, say hello to everyone, go barefoot, go on adventures, act silly, fly kites, have a merry heart, talk with animals, sing in the shower, read children's books, take bubble baths, get new sneakers, hold hands and hug and kiss, dance, laugh and cry for the health of it, wonder and wander around, feel happy and precious and innocent, feel scared, feel sad, feel mad, give up worry and guilt and shame, say yes, say no, say the magic words, ask lots of questions, ride bicycles, draw and paint, see things differently, fall down and get up again, look at the sky, watch the sun rise and sun set, watch clouds and name their shapes, watch the moon and stars come out, trust the universe, stay up late, climb trees, daydream, do nothing and do it very well, learn new stuff, be excited about everything, be a clown, enjoy having a body, listen to music, find out how things work, make up new rules, tell stories, save the world, make friends with the other kids on the block, and do anything else that brings more happiness, celebration, health, love, joy, creativity, pleasure, abundance, grace, self-esteem, courage, balance, spontaneity, passion, beauty, peace, relaxation, communication and life energy to...all living beings on this planet.

'Bruce Williamson, from It's Never Too Late to Have a Happy Childhood (1987)

'Be a lamp unto yourself.Don't search for light anywhere else;

the light is already there, the fire is already there.

Just probe a little deeper into your being, enquire.

Maybe much ash has gathered around the fire...

Just probe deep inside, and you will find the spark again.And once you have found a single spark inside you,

you will become a flame, soon you will be a fire...a fire that purifies, a fire that transforms,a fire that gives you a new birth and a new being.

Be a lamp unto yourself.

'Last words of Gautama, the Buddha

Kit and I are running two Live Your Joy! workshops in London over the autumn (October 29th and December 3rd) geared to help you reconnect with your joy and bring a sense of playfulness back into your life. Please book early as spaces are limited.Find more out about Kit at www.miraclesdohappen.org.uk

General, Health, Inspiration, LaughterTonya