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Massage Today
April, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 04

The Zen Teachings of TV Commercials, Part 1: How to Find Happiness and Peace of Mind

By Cary Bayer

The last thing you might expect to find in a massage journal is a column about the wisdom of television commercials. But, as we say, God works in mysterious ways - humorous ones, too. This coaching column has always been dedicated to finding the lessons available in everyday life, when we're ready to see them, even in the most overlooked places.

Every massage therapist has many desires, but the three near the top - if not at the very top - are happiness, peace and financial success.

This column shows how multinational advertisers have been giving profound teachings on these topics for years - and still do every night on your TV screen. If you watch consciously, you might find that the message is coming to you less from McDonald's than from the Universe.

But, let me back up a bit. Half a lifetime ago, I worked at a large advertising agency for three years and, for a couple of years before that, as an editor at Adweek, reporting on advertising, marketing and media. Even though all copywriters and art directors want you to choose their products over their competitors', they're not in cahoots with the Devil; nefarious, seductive and sometimes insidious, yes; but evil and demonic, no. I know firsthand they are good people.

30-Second Mantras

Advertisers often pump hundreds of millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars into mini-messages to make you like them and buy their wares. Their slogans are pop-culture mantras repeated nightly. (That's where the billions of dollars of TV time comes in.) Ad agencies run these messages for their clients' bottom lines. But because the Universe has more profound purposes than increasing brand market shares, "Its" creative intelligence often encodes a deeper meaning into ad messages. These become electronic wisdom, inspiring an enlightened life of peace and prosperity.

Commercial Yoga

You might wonder, after taking a yoga class, how TV spots could possibly lead you to a peace greater than the one your clients feel after getting off your table. Allow me to explain. Centuries ago, the great yogi Maharishi Patanjali preserved kernels of wisdom on spiritual development in verse form called The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. That classic inspired "The Yoga Sutras of Television Commercials" that follows.

Verse 1: You Deserve a Break Today - Stress Management (McDonald's)

As a massage therapist, you succeed in your business because your clients recognize the therapeutic value they receive from a restful and rejuvenating break from their daily activity. An hour-long treatment each week likely will help restore balance to their bodies. The Puritan ethic suggests that such treatments are an indulgence; after all, you don't need them to live. And they're right; you don't need them. But life is more than just work, productivity and need; it's also about rejuvenation, recreation and desire.

Since 1971, McDonald's has flooded our consciousness with a vital message: You do deserve a break today. Not for a Big Mac with cheese, as the copywriter intended, but for stress management, for you and your client, as the Universe intended.

Verse 2: The Pause that Refreshes - Transcendence (Coca-Cola)

The principle of rest and activity McDonald's introduced in verse 1 is expanded upon by Coca-Cola in this verse, suggesting that not only do you deserve a break today, but that the break also refreshes you. After years of twice-daily breaks of Transcendental Meditation (I've taught it to hundreds of people since the 1970s, as well), I can speak from experience when I say the pause refreshes physically, mentally and spiritually. TM, of course, simply is one form of stress management - albeit the most thoroughly researched by scientists. There are many other stress management techniques that can help you recharge your batteries on every level. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and breathwork are a handful of such methods. The method you choose isn't important; what's important is to give yourself a break, a daily pause for multi-level refreshment. Besides, you deserve it. So where does this rejuvenation come from? Coca-Cola clarifies that point in the next verse.

Verse 3: In the Back of Your Mind, What You're Hoping to Find It's the Real Thing - Where to Go for Transcendence (Coca-Cola)

As a human being, you're continually in search of greater happiness. Becoming a massage therapist is something you did to give yourself greater joy. Learning Thai or Lomi-Lomi methods, for example, were further expressions of this natural quest. We all find happiness in our own ways. But what if you could find a place where a concentrated, virtually unlimited reservoir of happiness was available?

There is one that exists, and great teachers throughout history have pointed us inward to find it. The Bhagavad Gita, where Yoga was taught for the first time, locates this reservoir of joy at the source of thought, at the basis of (or back of) your mind; it's transcendental. Since happiness is what you always seek, and since it exists in abundance at the back of your mind, what you're always hoping to find can be found at the back of your mind. And, Coca-Cola is right; it is the real thing.

Verse 4: You Can Be the Happiest Place on Earth - Tap the Joy Deep Within, (Disney)

Disney has been depicting each of its magic kingdom amusement parks as "the happiest place on earth." But they're wrong, and Coke is right: the happiest place on earth isn't there; it's at the quietest level of your own being, deep within you, at the back of your mind. Coca-Cola is right about the location of what you're looking for (verse 3), but it's Disney, in this verse, which recognizes that this "real thing" is pure happiness.

Naturally, none of the commercials described can give you the happiness and peace you seek, but they do tell you that you deserve to experience it (verse 1); that it's refreshing (verse 2); that it's within you (verse 3); and contact with it can turn you into the happiest place or person on earth (verse 4). That's quite a bit for the 30-second interruptions you use as an excuse to go to the fridge or bathroom.

Part two of this article, which will focus on how to create success in your activities and prosperity in your massage business, will appear in a future issue.

Click here for previous articles by Cary Bayer.


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