I got unceremoniously kicked out of the New Age Movement. This happened at its peak of frenzy, about 20 years ago. Before it became so mainstream that you can receive a doctoral degree in auras and past life regression. Seriously, they asked me to leave an alternative book, expensive gift, yoga/meditation center, and never return.
Why? What did I do to cause such a ruckus? I laughed during a guided meditation session. The self-appointed guru-ess and leader of this session was offended and complained to the owner.
While I was browsing the gift shop after the session, the owner approached and informed me of my transgression. I thought he was joking and so did my friend. So we laughed. Wouldn’t you? He made it clear that he was not amused, he was serious. And furthermore, he sided with the meditation chick. I tried to explain why I was laughing during the session, but the harder I tried the madder he got, so I exited stage right. At first I was mildly offended as well, but the more my friend and I talked it over, the funnier it seemed. We were laughing so hard that I had to pull over to the side of the road because I couldn’t see the road for my tears.
This is the only place that I recall getting thrown out of in my entire life. That’s saying a lot considering I spent 20 years in New Orleans in the French Quarter working nights.
The event happened at the end of years of church shopping, spiritual exploration, seminars, self-help books, cleansing fasts and navel gazing. I was rapidly approaching the point of view that everything I read, chanted about and contemplated in a tub of scented oils blessed by Vishnu, was a bunch of hooey, and that at the end of the day it comes from within.
The classics were classics for a reason. What a relief. I do not have to re-invent the wheel and I don’t have to drive, only enjoy the scenery. The many people who proceeded me on the road less traveled, that road that is now a high-speed tollway, with a fast food joint at every exit, have already figured it out. Actions speak louder than words. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Folks are as happy as they make their minds up to be. Enjoy what you have instead of obsessing about what you don’t have. Simple concepts, but difficult to execute, at least for me.
What made me laugh in the session was one part an over dramatic guided meditation teacher, and the other part my vivid imagination. She said something about ribbons of light steaming out her head. I pictured it and it looked silly, but fun, so I started giggling. What’s not to love about ribbons?
Giggling is contagious. Beside me, my girlfriend started twitching, also trying not to laugh. Then my imagination provided a pictured of me festooned with ribbons, scooting around town, seated in lotus position. I briefly wondered if I would need some sort of Kevlar fanny patch to protect my backside from road rash. This was the final straw and I burst out in a loud snort. I was overcome and could not stop laughing for several minutes. I managed to contain myself. However, at the end of the session, when we were laying flat on the floor, listening to the soft voice telling us to send love and light to each of our girly parts, I lost it again.
Getting ejected/kicked out of the local chapter of New Age was a blessing. What I took from it was that my life is a journey. It can be a magic carpet ride or the Bataan death march, my choice. When I try to stay in one habit, or rut, hang on to an outmoded mind-set and stop growing and changing I get into trouble. Some of it much more serious and painful that getting the boot for laughing too hard.