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Ed and Deb Shapiro

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Cirque Du Soleil And The Meditating Clown

Posted: 08/27/09 09:55 AM ET

We sat in awe in Denver as the magic unfolded and the show began: clowns, magicians, contortionists, high wire acrobats, it was all there in Kooza. It was mind-boggling as the performers leapt and tumbled on the high wire as if they were flying in the air, challenging our mental limitations. Their focus and concentration was a meditation—one slip and it could all be over!

The show was created by our friend, David Shiner, who started as a street clown in Boulder Colorado, but who is now a Cirque Du Soleil director. "I wanted to create a world that would reveal the hope, innocence, fear, solitude, joy, and love of the clown."

And he did. Each performer displayed a unique talent to dazzle us all. Everyone, yes everyone, was in awe, screaming and whistling. But being a clown is not just about creating fun; it also means going deeper into the darker parts of life and revealing their insubstantiality.

“I am a clown, so I am constantly revealing our deepest weaknesses and pain in order to generate laughter," David told us. "A clown is, seemingly, searching for his or her place in life: what is the meaning of all this, where do I fit in? It is the existential dilemma of what am I doing here and who am I? Somewhere inside each person they feel that way too, and that is why they love the clown so much. He reassures them that it is ok to feel that way."

David is a special breed of clown as he is also a dedicated meditation practitioner, who meditates every day. He has realized how fear has held him back, but when he entered into it, through meditation, it freed a deeper place within. In our book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, David shares how fear actually became his ally. Something we can all learn from.

“In our culture, we are raised with so much fear. The process of meditation is one of slowly peeling away our resistance so we can enter that fear more deeply. Rather than pushing our vulnerability away and living within the walls of fear that the mind has created, we can start to realize it is not going to hurt us, that it is actually a good thing. I can feel more intensely. I can go more deeply into my creativity. Meditation has completely changed my life, completely transformed me as a human being. I am not neurotic anymore; I am calmer, more centered and quiet."

David's experience with meditation is no different to many of us who have struggled to find a quiet mind.

 “The beginning may appear hard, it takes discipline, but it is like learning anything: You start in shallow water, and then you get into deeper water. If that scares you, then you go back to the shallow water until you get more confident. Practice, practice, practice! Slowly, the joy of being in this quiet space becomes addictive, you are just there, observing. And it transforms itself into so much more, into deeper love for other human beings, respect for life, compassion and humility.”

And, despite being a creative genius, he is fully aware that is takes time for such creativity to emerge.

"I think real transformation takes a long time, and it comes very slowly and quietly and gently into our lives. Profound transformation does not happen in a weekend course where everybody gets together and you do some sort of deep psychotherapeutic group awareness. For real transformation, you need to have patience and realize that anything of deep and lasting value takes time.”

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a clown? Do comment below. You can receive notice of our blogs every Thursday by checking Become a Fan at the top.

You can pre-order a copy of our book at: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World. It will be published Nov 3.


Ed and Deb Shapiro’s new book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors such as Marianne Williamson, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Beckwith, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jane Fonda, Jack Kornfield, Byron Katie, Ed Begley, Gabrielle Roth, Russell Bishop, and others, will be published Nov 3 2009 by Sterling Ethos.


Deb is the author of the award-winning book YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND. Ed and Deb are the authors of over 15 books, and lead meditation retreats and workshops. They are corporate consultants, and the creators of Chillout daily inspirational text messages on Sprint cell phones. See:




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