Angels fly because they take themselves lightly. – G.K. Chesterton
Last year I attended the Chopra Center sponsored Renewal Weekend in San Diego, (http://www.chopra.com/renewal). I went with a group of girlfriends. One of the workshops offered involved laughing meditation. My friends and I got there a little late. Entering the room we encountered a large group of people, all laughing hysterically and mingling around the room. My first response was, “I am soooo out of here. I am not about to get silly with a bunch of strangers. I am too repressed for this.” However, my friend urged me to stay. We began participating in some of the activities. We spoke gibberish and drank laughter milkshakes. Before I knew it, I was exiting my shell of repression and beginning to let go and have fun. Then, twenty minutes later I was rolling on the floor with the best of them, completely forgetting my inhibitions and laughing uncontrollably. My friend and I were the last to “shut up”, we couldn’t even suppress the spontaneous giggles that were erupting independent of thought.
Reflecting on the experience, I was struck by how incredibly freeing it was to let go and laugh. Also, how incredibly contagious laughter can be. I began by forcing myself to laugh and soon the laugher took me over. Laughter pulled me into the present moment. In those few moments I entered a true meditation. I forgot myself and connected with the part of me that is intimately familiar with joy. In addition to being in the all-encompassing mindful space, I felt an incredible sense of release and relaxation as well.
The other day, I heard comedian Karyn Ruth White (http://www.karynruthwhite.com/fans.html), refer to life as being filled with humortunities. She encouraged the audience to be vigilant as we go about our daily activities, looking for how humor might be infused into every moment. I thought about how easy it is to become serious as a parent. As we bustle about completing daily duties, we often forget to look lightly and see the humor in things. Taking a simple step back, observing and asking ourselves the question: “What might be funny here?” is an excellent way to center and get re-connected to joy.
Karyn was also reporting that preschoolers laugh hundreds of times per day whereas adults average around fifteen times, (if that, I thought to myself). As our children grow, why not be mindful of humor and dedicate ourselves to looking for ways to infuse it into our daily interactions. This area of the website provides links, resources, and activities for bringing the funny into daily life.
Humor not only brings us fully into the present moment, but it also brings with it a state of relaxation. Kids and adults alike can use laughter, smiles, and humor in order to elicit a state of relaxation and calm. I have included some laughter promoting activities on this section of the website in order to guide kids and adults in sharing humorous activities as a way to relax the body and the mind, reconnecting fully with a state of joy.
Other “side effects” of laughter:
Activates the immune system
Decreases stress hormones
Aids the healing process
Is an Exercise for the heart
Reduces blood pressure
Fills the lungs with air
Balances brain hemispheres
(i.e. one side needs to understand the humor and the other side has to figure out if it’s funny or not)
Establishes connection with others
Elevates your mood