So, today – Saturday, February 8th – is Laugh & Get Rich Day! Who knew? And did you know that humor plays an important role in a mindfulness practice? Let me explain.
Laughter has many benefits including relaxing your body, relieving stress, boosting your immune system, and releasing endorphins (the “feel good” hormone). And, if you are in the middle of a big belly laugh, it is hard to be sad or angry. It can also make a meditation and mindfulness practice more enjoyable and productive.
As all meditators know, the mind can engage in incessant chatter. An important part of a mindfulness practice is meeting the wandering mind with a sense of kindness and gentle curiosity. Bringing a suitable sense of humor to the wandering mind can be helpful. It is an admission that every thought that runs through the mind needn’t be taken seriously. (Actually that would probably aptly apply to the vast majority of what runs through our minds.)
As you meditate, thoughts and feelings that you least expect may rise up from the subconscious. In essence, you are facing yourself. That can sometimes be emotionally challenging work. Laughter can help you see what comes up differently than you otherwise might. With this reframing, you can clear your head, look at things fresh, and be open to different ways to relate to what you are thinking and feeling. Laughing can lead to a more positive frame of mind, even in difficult times.
A sense of humor can also come in handy if you are learning a new practice such as a moving meditation. To learn tai chi, for example, patience is required. For some, learning something new carries with it insecurities stemming from perfectionism. Tai chi, on the other hand, is a form that requires time and continual practice to become comfortable with and master the form. Having a sense of humor when you don’t get it right provides a counterweight to the self-criticism that can arise during the learning process.
There is actually a form of meditation called Laughter Meditation. Yes, it’s actually a thing. I was introduced to this practice during my coach certification training. Laughter Meditation or Hasya Yoga is a meditation practice that originated in India in 1995. Probably the easiest form of meditation, it’s a combination of simulated laughter exercises with gentle breathing techniques. It has proved to have many benefits on overall general health by lowering anxiety, depression, boosting immunity and providing emotional release and processing.
Here is a useful article about it if you would like to read more about this practice:
To add the richness of laughter into your own life, download the ‘Power of Laughter’ Worksheet here.