We all like a good laugh, don’t we? It releases stress, puts us in a good mood, and generally makes us feel better about life.
Were you taught in your childhood, as I was, to put a lid on your laughter and keep it down? I remember giggling in church, at school, on solemn occasions and getting frowned at by adults. This often made me laugh even more, as I tried to stuff down the irrepressible gales of guffaws welling up from deep inside me. Or maybe there wasn’t much to laugh about in your childhood.
Whatever the case, laughter has many dimensions of benefits for us. I have been practicing the *Laughter Meditation for over twenty-five years. My life has transformed and the same can happen for you. Laughter, and meditation, are good for us: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Here are 6 amazing benefits of laughter:
1. Nourishes Relationships
Laughter draws people together, doesn’t it? Many couples who do the Laughter Meditation together tell me they find a tremendous improvement in their relating. They discover another side of each other, the playful, humorous side which gives a relief to the more serious part of life concerned with work, money, housework, the kids, etc. Remember the old adage: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? Well, it doesn’t do much for Jill either!
Laughter improves relating with our children. They are our teachers in this regard. They laugh easily, and often. Children remind us of the magical qualities of wonder, imagination, spontaneity, playfulness, being fun and funny, which we all need to balance the stresses of life.
Relating with family members, colleagues at work, neighbors, people in the grocery store, commuters in traffic jams, for example, can be enhanced with laughter and smiles. Camaraderie is created, and a longing we all have for connection is fulfilled. Laughter heals feelings of isolation and separation and reminds us that we are all humans, living together on this earth. We all make mistakes and have flaws and laughter eases the wounds and reminds us that we are all loved and connected.(And I mean,of course, laughing with people, not at them.)
2. It’s Sexy
Laughter is a positive energy vibration and helps attract people to you that are good for you. It is beneficial for anyone who is sexually blocked. It releases inhibitions and opens up the energetic channels, bringing us directly in touch with our energy. The Law of Attraction states that you get what you vibrate. Laughter helps keep your energy at a highly positive vibrational level so you attract good things. And who isn’t sexy when they laugh?
3. It Opens Our Hearts
Laughter creates an opening to the love, compassion, courage, trust and intuitive wisdom that vibrates within us all. It’s difficult to hate a person you are laughing with. It’s difficult to be afraid of a person you are laughing with.
When we laugh we become more vulnerable, and approachable. We fall into trust and drop our defenses, becoming more willing to be flexible, and accepting. This helps towards preventing conflicts. Tensions are eased and we see one another’s points of view with more objectivity. As we become more relaxed, the world around us changes and becomes more relaxed.
Laughter brings a healing quality to our relationships and reminds us that, at the root, we all want the same things: to love, to be loved, and to be at peace.
4. It Enhances Our Creativity
The highest form of creativity is relationships. How many times have you been in a tense situation with your spouse, teenager, 2 year old, for example, where someone is reaching boiling point? A drama where saying the wrong thing can elicit an explosive reaction and create hurt feelings, resentment, and maybe revenge. When we are in a reactive state we unconsciously say things we don’t really mean(although we do in the moment we say it) and often regret later. We need our creativity at these moments to turn events in a positive direction.
After a long-time practice of laughter meditation I have noticed that as our energetic systems open up we are flooded with more creative energy. As old conditionings are released the unconscious opens and insights come. The relaxation of body and mind provides a gateway for creativity to come forward into expression. Spontaneously, in a tense situation, our creativity is available with just the right words to calm everyone down and find a solution. Our sense of humor, which is never far away, returns and love resurfaces to bring it’s healing powers to bear on everyone involved.
We all have a deep well of creativity inside us. If we repress and numb out our feelings, our creativity is also suppressed. Unused creativity gets metastasized into grief, anger and resentment. Laughter, playfulness, song, and dance help us cultivate our creativity, letting go of numbing and powerlessness, shame, fear, and comparison,and bringing our natural, spontaneous, creative self into expression. Anxiety and the insidious quiet messages we marinate in from abuse and neglect in childhood, dissolve as our natural joy, sense of humor, our imagination and dreams resurface. Our natural state of love, peace, creativity will always shine through any negative conditioning when we encourage it’s return.
5. It’s Rejuvenating and Keeps Us Young
When we laugh and smile we loosen up and generally feel better. The face collects a lot of our stress and when we laugh a tremendous amount of tension from the face, neck and
head is released. This gives us a more youthful appearance. It reminds us about having fun. Maybe today, do something just for the sheer fun of it. And think of the money you save on cosmetic procedures to make you look “younger”! Laughter radiates your youthful spirit through your eyes and whole being.
6. It Stimulates Physical Healing
*Scientific research has now proven that laughter does indeed, improve our health and well-being. If you can laugh when you are stressed, anxious, worried, even if you are ill, you feel better sooner. Laughter lowers blood pressure, boosts immune function, decreases stress hormones, relaxes muscles, assists in pain reduction (you can “forget” about the pain for a few moments),and is good cardiac exercise. Laughter brings energy from within you to heal, soothe, and inspire.
How Can Laughter Be A Meditation?
For those moments when you are totally laughing, you are free of the mind. All your problems disappear for a few moments, don’t they? In those seconds of hilarity you are brought from worry to joy, from tension to relaxation, from fear to trust, from timidity to courage. In other words, from the mind to the heart. You cannot think and laugh at the same time. You cannot be worried and laughing at the same time. In those moments when you are out of the mind you are in meditation. In those seconds the mind is not and you are, in the present moment. Laughter serves as a bridge to take us deeper into meditation, into peace, stillness, wisdom and joy.
Meditation is being in the present moment, aware and alert. Isn’t this the same experience when we laugh? When someone tells a joke, for example, and we suddenly burst into laughter, in those moments the mind,with all it’s “problems”, disappears and we just ARE, in the present moment, alert and aware. Have you noticed, when someone starts telling a joke, everyone is listening with undivided attention. We love to laugh, enjoy ourselves and have fun. It is a natural part of our nature.
Meditation is being in the present moment, fully aware of what the present moment contains.
The laughter meditation is powerful in its simple ability to transform and heal our relationships with ourselves, and with others. It an expressive technique, and has two stages, as described below. The first stage, laughter takes us deeper inside, paradoxically, as it’s an extrovert activity. The energy of laughter is a strong force that can dig through our conditionings, which are the blocks that prevent us connecting to our true, authentic self. Just try it now: “Ha,Ha,Ha” and experience how the energy is forging a path within you.
Laughter Meditation Exercise
Do this as often, and for as long as, you like. And remember to laugh, a lot, every day!
Step One: (One Minute)
Start laughing. You can shout out “Yahoo” three times and raise your arms up in the air, or use a funny Youtube video, or any idea you have to start yourself laughing. It’s easier, especially at the beginning, to do this with at least one other person. Do not speak in any language you understand. Just laugh.
Step Two: (One Minute)
Sit in silence with your eyes closed. If there is still laughter bubbling up, allow it. Do not repress your laughter. Eventually your laughter transforms into a joy-filled silence.
Experience Your Moments Of Joy
This might sound obvious, but a lot of us have a pattern of expecting the other shoe to drop when life is going well. We have been programmed with a mindset of fear, lack and scarcity, from our families, cultures, religions. This creates an unconscious fear of joy, laughter,and playfulness. We become afraid that, if we laugh too much, we maybe look silly, awkward, or “uncool”, make a fool of ourselves, or invite ridicule. You might even find it difficult to laugh for too long, if your energetic channels have been closed. You might even get angry when you are near people who are laughing a lot. “Why are they laughing so much? Life is not that great.” Maybe you were programmed with a “doom and gloom” attitude to life as I was, always expecting the worst to happen when you are enjoying yourself or when life is going really well. Thoughts like: “don’t enjoy yourself too much because soon everything will be difficult again”, “My life is going really well which means a disaster is waiting around the corner”. “There’s no point in enjoying this because all good things end and bad things return”. We cannot enjoy our joyful moments because these thoughts of imminent disaster ruin our present moment. We feel afraid of joy, and are threatened by too much laughter and playfulness.
Joy can be a terrifying emotion for some of you and is the most vulnerable of emotions. Can you EXPERIENCE your joy? Use it as a reminder to practice gratitude. Say to yourself; “What’s next?” And answer yourself: “ I don’t know but right now I’m grateful for this moment (rather than imagining a disaster).”
Bring awareness to these fear-based thoughts, and realize that they are a part of the fear,lack and scarcity mindset you have been programmed with. Don’t fight them. Instead, focus on bringing more laughter, playfulness, dancing, singing, fun activities into your life.
Love, joy and happiness are our natural state. Give yourself permission to enjoy your moments of joy fully, and they will grow.
*See research by Dr.Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan of Loma Linda University in California