Laughter Yoga started in 1995 in a Mumbai park in India, when a medical doctor – Dr Madan Kataria became interested in the power of laughter in curing illness. It started with just 5 willing participants but there are now over 1000 laughter clubs across the world. http://laughteryoga.org
Evidence has shown, that making yourself laugh provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as real laughter because “the mind does not know we’re faking it.” Laughter yoga sessions generally start with gentle warm-up techniques which include stretching, chanting, clapping, eye contact and subtle body movement to break down inhibitions and encourage childlike playfulness – something we adults don’t have enough of in my professional view. Breathing exercises are also used to prepare the lungs for laughter,
Laughing is brilliant way to strengthen our immune system, completely reverse the symptoms of depression & anxiety alongside many other health benefits. How does this happen? By bringing more oxygen to the body and brain, which in turn, enhances positive feelings and improves interpersonal skills. Just 15 minutes a day of real belly laughter is proven to be the equivalent of 100 sit ups in the gym – it’s perfectly natural, has exactly the
Dalit – ‘untouchable’ a term many of us will have heard in relation to caste. In certain communities, rules still exist about where Dalits can walk, the utensils they can use, who they can touch & of course who they can marry etc.
In fact, the opinion still remains, the Dalit birthright is to clean up the waste of others.
But the issue of caste goes far deeper than what we see on the surface. It’s vital to acknowledge however, when considering the issue of caste – what most Westerners see as cruel, discriminatory & outdated is actually rooted in early religious text. This text being the Law of Manu found in the Upanishads & accompanied by the belief that a person’s caste is the result of their past karma.
The Laws of Manu – date of publication uncertain but believed to be about 200 BC – was a hybrid moral-religious-law code and one of the first written law codes of Asia. In spite of its age, it has sustained paramountcy in the Hindu culture. It was also the code of conduct for inter-caste relationships in India.
Formed from the Laws of Manu, it has governed much of Hindu history. At the top of Hindu society were the Brahmin. As members of this caste, Brahmins made up the priestly caste of Hindu society. For them was reserved the right to both study and teach the Hindu sacred texts, known as the Vedas.
Both Hinduism & Buddhism share beliefs on the law of karma, its influence on rebirth & the impact our present behaviour may have on future lives. Both differ strongly however on the issue of caste with Buddhism very much rejecting the idea, in the belief we all have the potential to connect with our Buddha nature in this life if we so wish.
What are your thoughts on Karma? & Because the idea of caste is rooted in religious texts, can it ever be abolished?
When ordering online from a trusty Ayurvedic pharmacy in Rishikesh, I should’ve known it wouldn’t be straightforward.
Whilst living in India, this little place had been a hidden gem, away from the hustle & bustle of the busy Rishikesh markets – so back home in the UK, I thought I’d try ordering from their website. If anything, the entertainment value has been fantastic, but the quality of the oils I actually got is a whole other matter. So this is how it goes 😂 Only in India! Purchasing pure Rose oil can be an expensive venture in the UK at around £30 for a small bottle – so to get it in India for around £6 is a massive bonus. Anyway I accessed the website and ordered 1 bottle of rosé oil, 1 bottle of frankincense at £4 & 1 bottle of lime oil at £2 and waited. Exactly 1 month later, my parcel arrived in traditional Indian style – bound in cotton and hand stitched. The excitement was killing me, especially knowing I was getting such a top quality product. That’s why I was so unprepared for what was inside. The rose oil was there in its perfect little bottle. The frankincense was half full & the lime oil bottle looked 100 years old & completely empty. Inside was a note which read:
I only charge you half price because it’s half full and I don’t charge you for lime because it’s empty.
Never underestimate the power of death – or indeed the power of life!
Something I learned in India a couple of years ago. I’d taken myself off for some peace & quiet, away from the hustle & bustle of Rishikesh market to sit for a while on the banks of the sacred river Ganga. Ram Jhula to be exact. Where holy men bathe, and cows roam peacefully alongside them. You can’t help but notice the the interconnectedness of all living things in a place like this. On this particular day however, I learned an even greater lesson. Looking out across the river, a young boy of 11 or 12yrs old caught my eye. Barefoot and dressed only in red draped material from waist to thigh, he rummaged in the water, every so often popping something into his mouth. It was hard to make out exactly what he was picking up from a distance and after a while, curiosity got the better of me. For half an hour I’d watched this strange behaviour and had to find out. When I asked, the answer was far from what I expected. In broken English, he told me how he was collecting gold. Gold from the bodies of dead people cremated there. Gold they no longer needed, which could feed his family for a week. At this moment everything made sense. The irrational fear of death, when actually it’s merely a continuation of life.