11/29/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Cirque du Soleil and the Meditating Clown

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

"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.

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.


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, David Shiner, 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: