Maryam Mermey’s Healing Arts Blog

Divine Innocence

Milkweed
Photo by Akiba

Divine Innocence

Tis A Gift To Be Simple is a song and dance, which comes from the Shakers and is part of the repertoire of Dances of Universal Peace. I have shared this song and dance with all ages from the very young to Elders and it always evokes Divine Innocence. By Divine Innocence, I mean the kind of purity seen in the photo of the milkweed pod bursting with pure innocence and celebration! Divine Innocence is the birth of the new born soul, which can happen throughout life. As human beings, when we are hurt, it is our innocence which is hurt. Our innocence feels betrayed in some way; whether it be in a relationship with others, our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with work, community, the world, and/or the Creator, it makes sense to return to the place which has been hurt for healing. Returning to Divine Innocence through singing and dancing these childlike movements offers refreshment to the weary soul and guidance on how to restore our Divine Innocence. "In the words of the ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius, "The sage is the one who keeps the child's heart and mind" (Cohen, 1997, p.75). This is also reflected in brain research that music is not just confined to one area of the brain but has centers throughout the brain. When singing and dancing are integrated with a focus on Divine Innocence, the right half of the brain is singing in concert with the left half of the brain as images and emotions dance together with words and purpose. 

The following paragraphs go through the psychological and spiritual guidance offered by the words and movements to Tis A Gift to be Simple. Emotional and spiritual health are really one and the same as psyche originally comes from the Greek and means soul, life, and breath and singing and dancing are wonderful ways to invigorate the whole psyche. In the first movement phrase we are simply swinging our arms while holding hands in a circle, which many of us did as children but as adults there is a consciousness of how liberating it is to be connected with others in the joy of moving in rhythm together. It is a gift to kneel or bend our knees and sense the humility and relief of being part of something so much grander than ourselves, Mother Earth. In bringing the palms of our hands together at our hearts, we can feel that we are part of the heartbeat of Mother Earth.

In the second movement phrase, the swaying motion is a soothing motion as when a Mother sways from side-to-side holding her baby and is known to offer balance to the emotions during distress. Opening the hands and raising the arms up and out in a V shape not only gets the blood circulating by bringing oxygen and nutrients to the heart and lungs, but it lifts our spirits and helps align us with the souce of Divine Innocence.

In the third movement phrase, sometimes there is so much joy people spontaneously begin to skip. Whether we are walking or skipping, when we bow forward we are bowing before our Divine Innocence, and this may mean clearing the way to this purity by offering forgiveness, asking for forgiveness or both. This may be the most difficult part of returning to Divine Innocence but it is vital to the next movement and stage. We can only bend back in exaltation to the extent we have bent forward. Freeing our conscience, allows us to be fully open to Divine Innocence infusing our hearts.

In the fourth and final movement phrase, we feel the exhilaration and revelation of feeling one with Divine Innocence. We spin or turn in harmony with the universe.

  1. ‘Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free, tis a gift to come down where we want to be’ - In a circle hold hands and walk in a clockwise direction swinging arms into and out of the center of the circle beginning with the right foot. On the word “down” turn and face the center of the circle and either come to a kneeling position on the floor or if this is not possible, bend the knees and bounce placing the hands in the prayer position at the heart.
  2. ‘and when we have come down to the place just right, we will be in the valley of love and delight’ - While swaying from side to side in time with the rhythm of the song, on the phrase ‘love and delight’ open the hands and lift the arms in a V.
  3.  ‘When the true simplicity is gained, to bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed’ - Resume walking in a circle in a clockwise direction freely swinging the arms, (not holding hands) and on the word “bow” gently bend forward and on the word “bend” gently bend backwards.
  4. ‘To turn and turn it will be our delight, till by turning and turning we come round right’ – Turn or spin to the right with arms outstretched in a V.
  5. The whole dance may be repeated with skipping, jogging, walking slowly etc. or with combinations of movements and at different tempos.

The next article discusses how the song and dance Sri Ram Jai Ram from the Hindu tradition, inspires the embodyment of Divine Strength.   

 

References:

Cohen, K., p.75 (1997) The Way of Qigong. New York and Toronto, Canada: Ballentine Book Published by The Random House Publishing Group.

 

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Sacred Dances

Exaltation
Photo by Akiba Mermey

 Sacred Dances

Expressive Arts Therapy and Spirituality was the name of the workshop I offered as part of the "Creative Health 3rd Annual Conference for therapists, medical professionals, and caregivers to learn about the uses of Creative Arts Therapies in healthcare" put on by Maine Music and Health. This is the first of a series of blogs on the Sacred Dances we shared in the workshop and their divine and healing qualities. Today's blog is designed to give an overview of the workshop. Each of the following blogs are dedicated to the particular divine quality offered by each dance and its contribution to the journey of healing. There is a Jewish story that after taking much time to earnestly search through the bounty of Jewish laws, the essence of Judaism  can be expressed in these three laws: 1) Self~reverence, 2) A tender heart, and 3) Beneficent Deeds. These profound qualities also beautifully and powerfully express the goals of emotional and spiritual wholeness and the intention of the progression of Sacred Dances chosen for the Expressive Arts Therapy and Spirituality workshop.

I'm grateful to my husband for the use of the above photo, as it perfectly expresses the energy of exhilaration generated by the 29 people who participated in Sacred Dances from diverse spiritual traditions. The photo shows the illumination and awakening I saw in people's faces and countenances as they embodied the divine qualities in the series of dances and added their own spirited movement improvisations. The Sacred Dances come from the Dances of Universal Peace as a way to both honor and bring together people from different faith traditions through the universal language of dance. I can attest to the power of these dances to make soulful connections among people from religions which have a history of conflict. After I graduated from college, many moons ago, I went to Israel with a performing group called Pageants of Universal Peace and we did these dances at holy sites with Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druids, Sikhs, Shepherds as well as people from other beliefs and walks in life. The far reaching expressions of joy crossed the divide of distinctions and differences and there was peace in our Sacred Circle.

The following are some quotes from people who participated in the Expressive Arts Therapy and Spirituality workshop:

"Uplifting & energizing! A great way for this busy graduate student to reconnect with my body." Lisa Jade

"- A truly worthwhile experience - I liked your mix of different faiths. I got a lot out of the experience." Greg Stanen

"The workshop you did yesterday was wonderful !
I think you could also see that everyone in the group was "glowing", smiling ...during and when they left.
Your talent at making people feel valued and welcome is very evident.
The dancing was lots of fun..." Nancy Lagin

The focus for the next blog is the Sacred Dance, Tis A Gift To Be Simple from the Shaker tradition and how it inspires the quality of Divine Innocence, the first step towards healing.

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Norway Miracle

This is a rainbow as seen through a train window in Norway in the summer of 2014. It reminds me of the following quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:

"Around us life bursts with miracles.
If we live in awareness,
it is easy to see miracles everywhere."

2014 07 20 16.43.17

Pilgrimage

IMG 3244

 

This is my favorite photo of the highest point in Portugal. Akiba and I went to Portugal last summer to visit friends and make a pilgrimage.
I'm putting together a film of some glimpses of our pilgrimage and look forward to sharing it as soon as it's finished being born.

On another note, I've been asked to be the coordinator for the Emotional and Spiritual component of Above and Beyond, a holistic health center in Manchester, Maine. Please let me know if there is a branch of emotional and spiritual healing you wish to offer.

Poets' Heaven

 

Poets' Heaven 

There is

a heaven

for poets,

where all the poems

and people

who have slipped away,

wait for us

with open arms.

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Fusing Glass as a Form of Healing

Fused Glass

Fusing Glass is the layering of 2 or more pieces of glass and surrendering them to the fire of a glass kiln. It is quite miraculous to assemble pieces of glass and have them emerge from the kiln as a united and luminous whole. This creative process reflects the healing journey of life whereby the beauty, power and chi (life~energy) of challenging pieces of life are embraced.This whole~hearted embrace allows for the fire of suffering to be transformed into the light of joy! This serving dish was a birthday gift for my husband, Akiba.

Women’s Healing Grief Through the Expressive Arts Group

Brekkefossen Waterfall in Norway

 

The Women's Healing Grief Through the Expressive Arts is a 5 week group intended for women seeking to heal the loss of a loved one, a relationship, an ability, one’s home, the loss of one’s sense of self or any other source/s of grief through a life~giving and playful connection with the arts. As each art form has its own medicine to offer the body, heart, and soul, when multiple art forms are knowledgeably integrated in a safe and inclusive context, the brain circuitry for maximum wholeness is activated. Each week focuses on exploring the soul~nourishing qualities of different art forms. Participants may choose from the following art forms: painting, collage, fusing glass, movement, music, theatre, creative writing, poetry, and/or the film arts to help transform the suffering of grief into the empowerment of joy!

Women's Healing Grief Through the Expressive Arts is a group forming in November at Above and Beyond Wellness for Women, 8 Pond Rd, Manchester, Maine 04351. Please call Above and Beyond at: 512-8780 to let us know best days/times except for Wednesdays. Please call Maryam Mermey at: 458-3357 with questions about the group. No experience is necessary.

Dr. Maryam Mermey, Registered Expressive Arts Therapist, holds a Ph.D. in Arts, Health and Society. She also has an M.A. in Counseling Psychology, a M.Ed. in Arts in Education, and a B.A. in Dance and Poetry.

 

© 2007 - 2019 Maryam Mermey and The Transformative Arts