Happiness Circle

Thank you for being there in so many ways: in person, through the web, in prayer, and emotionally. Thank you for living your life, every day, in a way that makes the world a better place, even if it might sometimes feel like you are having only the smallest of impact.

A few years ago, my brother-in-law unintentionally introduced me to the idea of a happiness circle. At the time, someone was grumpy in his presence, and he stated in all seriousness, “I don’t want you inside my happiness circle.” To emphasize, he stretched out his arms and indicated a circle slightly wider than his reach. “It extends out to here. If you want to be in this space, you cannot step on my happiness.”

It may have been only one of a million brilliant thoughts for him, but it stuck with me. I love the idea of a happiness circle that surrounds us, even if I typically invite everyone in without regard to their impact on my happiness.

During this past Spring, I paid a visit to a “sound healer.” I went primarily because my friend suggested it and would not let it rest until it got pushed to the top of my list of healing modes to try.

I drove by myself to see this healer at her home in another part of town.

Even though I am firmly ensconced in the world of “alternative healthcare,” I still imagine any new healer to look like the character Tia Dalma from the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean – beautiful, exotic, and a little crazy.

Tia Dalma from Pirates of the Caribbean

But no – I meet another middle-aged woman who dresses very mainstream with a kind, expansive heart and a sensible demeanor. All good.

We sit and chat for about 20 minutes. I get the feeling that she is evaluating how far out into the intangible I might be comfortable discussing. We connect, I trust her, and I decide that this will be an interesting, probably one-time, experience. Like a nice massage.

I lay on the table (like a massage table) – yes, fully clothed – and she begins to play an assortment of Tibetan bowls and a gong. I suddenly remembered my phone. I had planned to turn it off so that I wouldn’t get distracted, but I left it on vibrate. So my session started like this:

  • The bowls feel amazing. The vibrations surprisingly flow through every cell in my body, and I am slightly transported.
  • I pull my psyche away from the vibrations and back into the tangible world as I worry about my phone. Will it ring? Should I turn it off?
  • The strong vibration of the bowls draws me back to them. I feel like I am in the center of the vibrations as they become deeper and more resonant.
  • With a bit more effort, I again pull my psyche away from the vibrations and worry about my phone. Will it ring? Should I turn it off?
  • Again, the bowls draw me back. The vibration is now longer and deeper and totally sucking me in.
  • I think again about the phone, but this time, I feel like I am in the center of vibrations that are emanating from me. It is as though they are creating huge circular waves around me, waves so strong that the vibrations from my cellphone feel teeny in comparison. I know that, even if my phone rang, the iPhone vibrations would never reach me through these waves. The vibration was not strong enough to go against this flow.

I let go and ride the waves.

About an hour later, the healer tells me that I can return to my body. It feels like no time has passed, and I don’t feel like I have been asleep either. I can barely speak and need to think about and plan each word.

She tells me to take my time getting up. Every time I receive any kind of body treatment, the therapist says to take my time getting up, and every time, I feel no need and just jump up. This time, though, I literally cannot move. For example, it takes some minutes before I can give the order from my brain to raise my arm.

I finally, slowly sit on the table and eventually get up. She encourages me to stay for a bit and ground myself. “No, I’m okay,” I tell her. I drink some water and head to my car.

I sit behind the steering wheel for awhile, then decide that is silly and I should head home. I start to drive before I realize that I didn’t feel like going home just yet.

It occurs to me that the Mission Church might be a good stop. I checked my GPS – only ½ mile away! I head there. Though I hear a voice say that I will find parking in front of the church, I ignore that voice and park in a garage.

After parking, I walk in the direction I believe the church will be. But the walk feels long and I decide that I want confirmation. I look at several different people before deciding to stop one particular couple who are walking together but not talking.

They look like what I picture as a typical Boston couple. He stands about my height with a round belly, wearing a red Red Sox t-shirt, blue jeans and a baseball cap. She is only a bit shorter, with straight dyed-blonde hair, a weathered face and a similar round build.

I make eye contact with her and say, “Excuse me, I’m looking for the Mission Church. Is this the right direction?”

She returns my gaze and states, “I’m looking for Fenway Park.”

On a normal day, I try my best to be helpful. Today, under the influence of the bowls, generosity pours out of me. “Oh, I wish I could drive you there. But I just parked my car. It’s a long walk. You might think about taking a cab.”

She snaps at me, “What do I look like? Do I have ‘Information’ written on the front of my shirt?”

Normally, this would throw me off-center and trample all over any good mood. But the bowls remained in full effect, their powerful vibrations still pushing away anything not as strong, not as pure as they are. It was as though I was on some wild psychedelic trip and just observing her. All I could think was, “Wow, she is really angry.”

I told them I was sorry to bother them and continued on my way. If she was still talking, I didn’t notice, though I did notice the grin on his face.

I made it to the church, where I noted the ample on-street parking. I stayed for awhile, then returned to my car and drove home.

By then, I felt normal again. Really nice, but normal. The kids, dog and I headed to Yappier Hour at the Liberty Hotel to meet friends and their dogs. Once there, we ran into another friend who is going through a rough divorce. As she talked with me about her circumstances, I thought I was fully listening. I could hear what she was saying, I could see her point of view, AND I didn’t feel bad about it. I only felt bad that she was so unhappy, but not about the specific details.

She suddenly interrupted herself. “What is with you?”

I wasn’t sure what she meant.

“You are so….” She struggled for the word. “calm. You are so calm.”

I thought for a minute. Do I explain the bowls? I love being in this emotional space.

A couple of days later, someone said something that knocked me flat, letting me know that that I was down from that high. I missed that calm space and the protection of the bowls. I can totally see how someone would get addicted to drugs.

In the meantime, I am all about these circles that emanate from us. If they are strong, they have the power to block bad vibes from your happiness circle. I am convinced that we can do this ourselves. And like a pebble in the water, your actions, large or small, create these beautiful ripples that grow and surround us all, creating a powerful flow of waves that reach further than we can see and vibrate longer than we know. Thank you for every one.

Much love,

9 thoughts on “Happiness Circle

  1. Sounds so wonderful, Marie! How would I find that lovely woman? (The healer, not the “information” lady!) I don’t know if you remember me…I met with you at Fayerweather last year, and Nancy told me about your blog. I really enjoy it. My best to you.

  2. HI Marie,

    This is such an amazing piece. I reconnected with a dear friend who was in El Salvador with me. I hadn’t seen her in about 18 or 19 years, but in El Salvador we had a very strong relationship. The kind that picked right back up where we left it when we saw each other again. Clare is a remarkable woman who is a healer herself and always open to new ways of healing. She recently finished an apprenticeship learning the Tibetan bowl work you described! It’s so cool to hear you describe its power now. As she told me about it I tried to imagine what the experience would be like feeling those vibrations to your core. The way you describe it is so amazing. It reminds me too, as you describe it, that so much of the power of such things is not some sort of magic that comes from the thing itself, but what happens when we are open to let ourselves work with what we experience from it and from what we can learn from that experience. I believe your ability to do that is why you are able to pull so much out of all the so-called alternative treatment work and experiences you’ve participated in, including the circle of prayer and energy you have created for yourself. You are a perfect model of what power we can harness for ourselves if we’re open.

    Even though the high has dissipated, I have no doubt that when you need to call on it for added support you will be able to conjure up some body memory of those vibrations and the ripple of circles and it will give you strength.

    much love,


  3. Those Tibetan bowls are really powerful, I’m sure, and very healing. I love the idea that the sound ripples in to us, finding cracks and hidden places inside of us, and then out of those deep, dark spaces vibrates this beautiful sound that ripples outwards and will touch all those who will listen. And then as we encounter each other, our ripples overlap and the vibrations start to ripple in time with each other until we all vibrate together like a beautiful choir. That’s how I imagine it. And if you can imagine the healing like that too, then maybe it will be really powerful.

  4. Wow. I love the way you described that feeling, that centeredness and detachment. I know I’ve felt it a few times in my life, and was sad each time when it left. Thank you soooo much for sharing this with us! (And next time I’m in Boston, I’m going to ask you about the Sound Lady.)

  5. Oh my goodness. Just read your happiness circle blog. A few years back, while working in an emotionally “poisonous” room, someone said to me, “create a circle of happiness around you, and don’t let them in.” So, I did. Hope your doing okay today??   xoxo

  6. OMG. Loved, loved, LOVED this post!

    Everything from the “happiness circle” (I’m guessing that was your CA-based BiL?) to the bowls. Amazing.

    It was sooo good to see you and Aidan last week. BTW—did I miss you with purple hair? And I forgot to ask to see the yellow tandem!



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