Laughter Meditation: 5 Healing Benefits and a 10-Minute Practice
By Melissa Eisler
In a world where there’s much to be taken seriously, it’s important to remember to laugh. Not to make light of the severity of war, discrimination, terror threats, or climate change, but to maintain a perspective that there is still much to be thankful for and to celebrate in your life.
Laughter meditation is an effective and easy way to create this balance. If you’ve done it, you likely understand its healing benefits (http://www.textbooks.com/Healing-Benefits-of- Acupressure/9780879835361/Fred-M-Houston.php). If you haven’t, you might be a little skeptical of its power to improve your mood and awaken your inner child. Before writing it off as an off-the-wall meditation practice, take a look at the benefits laughter meditation can bring to your life.
Whether you’re looking for an escape from the somber state of the world, or just wanting to reengage a part of you that’s been dormant—accessing joy, pleasure, and connection—practice laughter meditation and embrace all it has to offer your mind, body, and spirit.
How do you see the glass? Half full or half empty or even refillable? Today I try to live my life looking at people, places and things in a positive way. Even with the severities we have occurring all around us on a daily basis, we need to be mindful of the moment right in front of us. We need to acknowledge our gifts and our journeys that have made us better human beings. We need to be grateful for what we have and not focus on what we haven’t. I oftentimes use laughter to change my mood and attitude to get back into that positive mindset. I love being a kid, acting like a kid, laughing and playing like a kid!
Here are five healing benefits of laughter meditation.
As with most meditation practices, laughter meditation provides an opportunity to slow down and be present in your life. With your smartphone usually within arm’s reach, it’s easy to be somewhere physically, but at the same time be somewhere else mentally. With human nature always planning for the future or analyzing the past, it’s hard to maintain a sense of awareness where you are right now. The truth is, your body can never be anywhere but present. Bring your mind and spirit into that same realm.
When you practice laughter meditation, the main focus of your meditation is to laugh. There are no objects to concentrate on or visualizations to take you elsewhere. You simply laugh. Once you become aware of your body while laughing—how your belly moves in and out, or your head moves side to side— you become aware of your surroundings and ground yourself in the present moment.
When I meditate my thoughts usually interfere with my focus on breathing and mind-clarity. The same happens when I practice laughter meditation. I embrace those thoughts and thank my Higher Power for them and then ask that they be taken away, whisked away on a cloud. Then I get back to meditation…until the next random thoughts.
The world can sometimes seem like a dark, cruel place. There is so much pain and hurt happening across continents that it can be easy to slip into the belief that you need to take life seriously. This can translate into taking yourself too seriously. After all, there is much to be done to create peace and balance in the world.
While there is nothing wrong with seeing problems and figuring out a way to fix them, making sure you’re doing a stand-up job at work, or taking care of your family, issues can arise when you do all these things with a heaviness of spirit. There is a cost when you don’t give yourself the opportunity to experience pleasure, fun, and frivolity, and laughter meditation can help. When you sit on the floor or stand in a room and simply start laughing, you can’t take yourself too seriously—it’s not possible. Laughter meditation invites you to set aside your serious “adult” ways and enjoy being funny, helping you to remember the important element of lightness.
Again, focus on and live in the moment. Even if briefly, do some laughter meditation. No one cares. No one is judging. And if so, don’t give a shit. Be you. Love you. Right now. And remember all the negativity with which we are bombarded in the news is what sells news. Only a small percentage is the feel-good stuff that we need to remember is happening everyday, everywhere. And when we do witness the tragedies occurring on this planet, remember the comraderie, empathy, compassion and love that has come about from these incidents.
It’s easy with technology to “connect” with others via social media, or perhaps you have a handful of acquaintances through work, but take a step back and assess how intentional you are with truly connecting with someone else.
Laughter meditation can provide an opportunity to connect with someone in a fun, meaningful way. While it can be practiced alone or with others, when others are involved, you forge a connection that truly celebrates the joy in life. It can be intimidating to practice laughter meditation with another person because you probably don’t want to look foolish. But once you enter into that space, you have an immediate support system because they too will probably feel the same way.
Being an active member in Alcoholics Anonymous I get to laugh so much at hearing some of the most incomprehensible demoralizing things we’ve done. Some are truly tragic but, together, we’ve come out of it and don’t dwell on it. On the contrary we are so grateful to have made it to the other side and to experience and share the joys of recovery…together!
When anxiety rears its ugly head, it steals the joy from your life. Anxiety can hijack your emotions and sabotage any effort you make to live a balanced, peaceful, and harmonious life. There are many ways you can combat anxiety, including medication, exercise, and mindfulness, but an easy and often overlooked method is laughing.
Laughter has been proven to help decrease anxiety, stress, and depression (https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/effects-of-laughter-therapy-on-anxiety-stress-depression- and-quality-of-life-in-cancer-patients-1948-5956-1000362.php?aid=60533), while increasing quality of life. In fact, laughter can actually alter dopamine and serotonin activity (http://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/laughter-scares-depression-anxiety-boosts-moodstates/) in your brain, offering a noninvasive and non-pharmacological option for dealing with stress and depression. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, make time to practice laughter meditation and harness the power of its healing benefits (http://www.textbooks.com/Healing-Benefits-of- Acupressure/9780879835361/Fred-M-Houston.php).
Don’t you love a good comedy? I remember watching Bad Dogs over and over and laughing so hard my face hurt. Good tear-jerker laughter that you’re crying. I feel so much lighter after a good laugh just like a good workout that alters my dopamine and serotonin, but way more fun!
Emotions are not meant to stay bottled up. Quite the contrary, the release of emotions is critical to your overall well-being. In a world where you feel hurried and are rushing around from one commitment to the next, it can be hard to create the space to let your emotions bubble to the surface.
Laughter meditation provides an opportunity to access your emotions in a creative way. By just focusing on laughing, you’re concentrating on the release of a major emotion, which can open the door to other major emotions like sadness, anger, and fear. At the end of your laughter meditation practice, take some time for stillness and silence. Be open to what comes up, including other emotions. This can be a powerful way to deal with underlying thoughts and feelings that you may not realize you have or have gone unnoticed (either intentionally or unintentionally).
I feel so blessed to be part of the AA Fellowship where I learned and have experienced that I am never alone. I never have to let my emotions bottle up. Sharing helps take the power about whatever my woes may be. And I have an awesome husband who will listen to my issues and give me honest feedback. Rigorous honesty and communication with no hesitation is icing on the cake of recovery!
10-Minute Laughter Meditation
Laughter meditation is one of the easiest forms of meditation. You’ll start by stretching your body, then you’ll practice laughing and end with silence. Follow these simple steps and reap the benefits of this healing practice:
1.1-2 minutes: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and stretch your arms high above your head. Rock your body side-to-side from your torso, then bend over and touch your hands to your feet. Next, massage your jaw and yawn at least two times to loosen your mouth and relax the muscles in your jaw.
2.3-5 minutes: Find a comfortable position to sit or stand. Start by slightly smiling and then begin laughing without too much effort. Move to deep belly laughs. (Hint: try different types of laughs to encourage your true laugh to come through. Even if it begins as a forced feeling, most people find the forced laughter catalyzes authentic laughter in no time.)
3.3-5 minutes: Sit or lie on the floor in stillness and silence. Be mindful of what comes up for you—how your body feels, emotions that present themselves, and thoughts that arise. (Optional: share what comes up with a trusted friend or write it down in a journal.)
Try doing your laughter in front of a mirror or with a friend. Good fun! And remember that all is perfect at this very moment…that you are perfect…that you are a gift! And be grateful for what is in front of you…right here…right now!
For those interested in Inspirational (and Funny) Gifts with a Message, please visit my website at www.DeesignsByHarris.com. Mahalo and have a fun day!
Slow down and tune into the joy that surrounds you with Deepak Chopra (https://www.amazon.com/Deepak-Chopra-Dream-Weaver-3-0/dp/B01CIEJ2AO) and Chopra Center master educators at our signature yoga and meditation retreat, Seduction of Spirit. Learn More.
From Laughter Meditation: 5 Healing Benefits and a 10-Minute Practice | The Chopra Center