Ladies & Gentlemen, allow me to reveal four ways The Greatest Showman can *vastly* improve your yoga and your life
I was late to the Greatest Showman party. I’d heard all the hype and thought, ‘I’ll probably watch that’, but didn’t get around to it until a few weeks ago and my goodness, I’m glad I did!
Have you seen it?? It’s the heart-warming, uplifting story of P T Barnum’s circus show of the macabre and a "celebration of humanity”, as described by one of the characters.
I became aware of the film when I saw a video clip of a rehearsal recording and was instantly taken. It was so rousing and inspiring!
I really enjoyed the film but what touched my heart most was the amazing soundtrack. I listened to it more carefully early one Sunday morning when I’d taken myself out for a run because I was feeling a bit fed up. I have to confess, I had a few tears as I went along one of my usual routes, (this is normal - I often feel overwhelmed; I cry happy tears far more frequently than sad ones) and by the end of my run, my heart was soaring, and I wanted to applaud the whole team involved in its production.
As ever, Hugh Jackman is always simply amazing; for me now, Jean Valjean can look like nobody else, nor can Wolverine or Mr Barnum. And Keala Settle. Wow. Just wow. Thank you for the incredible power and energy of your voices.
Justin Paul, Benji Pasek, Hugh Jackman & Keala Settle, you deserve every bow, every standing ovation and every accolade bestowed upon you and more.
When I listened that day, I drew similarities with the yogic philosophy that I enjoy and began compiling this blog post in my head. I felt compelled to share the comparisons I was drawing and since then, I’ve enjoyed reading other people’s interpretations, including the wonderful No Faff and People Matters but still, this was cooking for me, was part-written and has been desperate to come out of the oven.
What do I think we can we learn from this musical treat?? I’m glad you asked…
A Million Dreams
The dreamlike, ethereal gentle strings and the crescendo of drums and cymbals really do paint the brightest colours as suggested in the story of the song. It’s full of optimism, and I LOVE it!!
“We can live in a world that we design” YES!!! We can choose our path; we HAVE that power!!
We definitely cannot control circumstances or events that happen, but we absolutely can choose how we respond or react to those things. If you can imagine the very best version of life for yourself and believe it to be a reality, I’m pretty certain that good things will come to pass because visualisation is a very powerful tool.
“I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
…for the world we’re gonna make”
I'm sure we’ve all heard a version of the words of Henry Ford, "Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t - you're right”. As soon as you notice something is going wrong, don’t other things start to go seemingly against your favour? Every traffic light turning red during your journey when you’re already late? Sound familiar? How about if you change your words to be positive and see how that works out for you? Change your “I’m late” to “I have exactly the right amount of time”. If you’re caught in traffic, maybe it’s the gift of a pause you must take to stop and enjoy your breath or notice things around you; trees, flowers, or patterns of clouds “The special things I compile, Each one there to make you smile” - thanks Mother Nature, you’re a doll.
The saddest of songs in the context of the film. The idea of an extra-marital affair, as is hinted at, hurts. We can all see what’s going on even if Mr Barnum could not. But, references to the actual plot line aside, for me this is the shake-of-the-shoulders, pull-yourself-together bit that we all need every now and again. First of all, we are reminded of the impermanence of everything
“I’m trying to hold my breath
Let it stay this way
Can’t let this moment end”
Straight away, I hear the words of someone who inspires me with her teachings from afar (please be that I can study with Alexa Silvaggio one day!!) Everything is temporary - the bad stuff is temporary and will pass, the good stuff is temporary and will pass, so enjoy it now. The character Jenny Lind is desperately trying to hold onto stuff and her yearning is causing her pain.
“Towers of gold are still too little
These hands could hold the world but it'll
Never be enough”
we all feel like this sometimes, don’t we?
The Law of Attraction tells us that like attracts like. If we perceive lack, then dag-nammit, lack is what we will experience. Ms Lind laments longingly but if we feel like we don’t have enough, we will never have enough. Especially when we browse social media or listen to someone’s tales of their adventures at the weekend. Our own lives can sometimes seem a little less colourful.
Stop right there!
The old adage ‘count your blessings’ was not for nothin’, you know. (Don’t worry, it was an intended double negative, Grammar Police.) Wise teachings through the ages tell us that as soon as you begin to get in the habit of noticing something you are grateful for, you will be presented with more and more opportunities for gratitude.
How can you feel blue with such an abundance of gratitude?? (Of course, we do all feel down sometimes, lots are even affected by anxiety, depression and mental health issues, and I am in no way discounting your experiences, but beginning a gratitude journal may provide you with a little bit of lightness when you need it. But, please don’t suffer alone. Tell someone.)
This is Me
Woah. If you haven’t seen the film, I am certain you would have heard this song. Performed brilliantly by the hugely strong and powerful voice of Keala Settle. This epitomises individuality and character for me.
“I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ‘cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me"
The music reflects the lyrics with its uprising beat of drums, choral voices and dramatic rests. The first time I listened, I’m not ashamed to say that I sang along (loudly), with a stupid, goofy smile and happy tears. And I replayed the song about three times. Just because I could. Yep, I probably did look that stupid running along with my headphones. But, you know what? I don’t care. I heard it and thought, ‘YES!!’ It gave me a sense of knowing that everything is ok. Everything happens for a reason and that is fine. I am fine.
I read once that “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. What is your opinion on these words from Elenor Roosevelt? Or those more recently of Alexa Silvaggio (I love you!!) “what other people think of you is none of your damned business”? We must love ourselves and like ourselves, for if we don’t... what??
I love that this song celebrates individuality and puts down the bullying and body shaming ideas so frequent in our society - “…fire away ‘cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in”.
Like it or not, we live in a world of likes, comments and shares where appearance sometimes counts for far more than it should. But everyone is unique; perfectly imperfect. Why should we aspire to look the same as a person whose image has likely been modified to be displayed on a billboard? Why should we aspire to be someone else? Of course, we can admire virtuous qualities that we can implement in our own lives, but only if they are qualities that mean something to you.
From Now On
“For years and years
I chased their cheers
The crazy speed of always needing more"
and haven’t we all been there??!
I may have indicated that I feel things deeply and for me, music is incredibly emotive. Perhaps it is for you, as well? This section of this song rings particularly true for me and for a challenging time in the life of someone close to me. The pressure of living “someone else’s dream’s” will always inspire a sense of lack, or a sense of not being good enough, as will craving constant praise and validation from other people. The Bhagavad Gita tells us “It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection”. And that was written waaaaaaay before the lyrics of The Greatest Showman, so that’s got to count for something, right??
How about if we take stock of what our own dreams are? By that, I mean actually sitting down with a piece of paper if needs be, and actually writing down what your values are. The things that are really important to you.
You can make any decision with your own best interests at heart.
If you set out on a journey, how can you possibly know you’re heading in the right direction if you don’t know where you’re going to? You can develop this into taking stock of what actually happens in your day-to-day life to see if you are living in alignment with what is important to you. Are you a ‘yes’ person, always agreeing to what others want even though one of your values is independence? Is it important to be physically fit and healthy yet you often have to skip your visit to the gym or yoga class? Food for thought.
At the end of the day, only “One remains”. That One is you. Only you can live your life. Don’t let yourself be “blinded by the lights” of distraction or of someone else’s dreams. Live your best life. The piano, guitar and drums are so powerful as P T Barnum’s character wakes up to the realisation of his true values “Let this promise in me start Like an anthem in my heart” and the gospel-style choir rouses in communal support as he truly comes back home to himself. If you have a few minutes, take a peek at this YouTube clip of a Greatest Showman rehearsal that I found awe-inspiring and feeling full of hope and opportunity. Coming home or being true to yourself will always attract like-minded people, which leads to honest, genuine friendships and relationships. Your vibe attracts your tribe.
I wonder if you have any reflections or this film that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them because that’s it says to me; community and individuality.
Sometimes, we must have a shift in our perspective of life a little bit.