Tag Archives: laughing

Laughter: The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have Meditating

In the latest episode of The Chopra Well’s 30 DAYS OF INTENT, Natalie and Iman get silly with some laughing meditation. They visit Stephanie Nash who leads them in an intimate and, at times, goofy session. We interviewed Stephanie on her experience teaching laughing meditation and how the practice has changed her life.

The Chopra Well: We love laughing! And Natalie and Iman do, too. Why is it so hard, then, to laugh in the more controlled setting of a laughing meditation session?

Stephanie Nash: Laughing is a spontaneous act – as we all know. Why are we not, then, laughing all the time?

Well, with the stresses and worries of life, our minds become occupied with concerns of the past and future, with less room to allow the natural response to freely take over. We develop tensions that become habitual of holding back our tears, of swallowing them with tightness in the tongue, throat, and jaw. Laughter is not something that we tend to deliberately stifle – it’s usually more of a case of not leaving space for it, and thus it’s harder to notice how tension makes it less likely.

“Why is it so hard … in a controlled setting”?  Because something that is spontaneous and happens naturally will be easier. That, however, is not the point here. The key is not necessarily to have it feel the same, the key is to stretch so that there is more tendency to laugh and smile as natural responses in life. And it’s been proven that simply doing the actions of smiling and laughing there are physiological, psychological and emotional benefits, even when the laugh or smile is not authentic.

CW: If we tend to hold ourselves back from laughing spontaneously, what are some things we can do to open up and loosen the muscles a bit?

SN: One way of “stretching” or “lubricating” the pathway is to deliberately smile or laugh – without the natural impulse. Yes, it often can feel quite false at first. What I’ve tried to do is make it an exercise that is practical and can be done by anybody during the course of his or her day. Just 30 seconds 2-3 times a day, can help shift any habit pattern of sadness, depression, anger, or fear.

CW: Natalie and Iman seemed a little bit wary at first to laugh. Is it ever hard or awkward for you when you’re first teaching someone the practice?

SN: I’d say that most people are a bit surprised at the notion of “laughing for no reason.”  Some, as I believe Natalie brought up, might even find it to be insane. So right there you’ve got concepts and judgments that get in the way of them experiencing the potential freedom that could be experienced. Does that make it more challenging for me to help people experience the possibilities? Sure, but that’s my job. And some people are going to be more naturally inclined to laugh or open to the possibility than others.

Also, and this is not unimportant, this was the first time I’d ever taught anyone who hadn’t come of their own choosing. Also, I did not know until moments before Natalie and Iman arrived that they had no idea what they were heading into. So that made it particularly challenging for everyone, I think. All those factors added together to create a unique challenge given the nature of this work, but working through challenges usually leads to some interesting growth.

Also, I’d say that 95% or more of the time that I present laughing meditation it’s to a group, and that makes a big difference. Different groups have different dynamics, but there are always a few people who really let out a huge guffaw that affects the group, and/or there are a couple of people with very funny, unique laughs, and that alone can set off the group into peels of laughter. Hearing a good laugh can be like being tickled, which is what I try to supply with my laugh. Then, after someone has experienced that, when they attempt to do it on their own, it’s definitely easier because the natural recall of the positive experience of the group returns and supports the process.

So, when teaching people privately, it will naturally be a bit more challenging. It can be easier to teach one person than two, depending on if it’s a comfortable, intimate relationship or if they are relatively new to each other. So then, naturally, it’s not only more difficult to abandon oneself to the laugh during the teaching, but at home, the remembering of that initial discomfort may be recalled, reinforcing more resistance.

CW: Do you practice laughing meditation daily? Have you noticed any effects of laughing meditation on your life or overall health?

SN: Yes, I practice the smiling practice 3-20 times a day, and the laughing practice I employ if I realize I have not heard the sound of my laugh that day. Because I do this a lot, I laugh a lot and am more prone to laughing. But when I work as a meditation teacher with people in deep pain or grief, laughing is not the natural or appropriate activity, so I use the laughing meditation to balance. It’s like taking a “positive” vitamin, in the same way we may review our day – Did I exercise? Drink enough water? Meditate? One can notice if one let out a good deep laugh that day, and it’s an easy fix.

Since I started employing laughter and smiling, I’ve been happier and am more motivated to move, create, and serve. I notice many people commenting on how much younger I look.  I’m 55 years old now, and I probably feel better and stronger than I did in my mid-30’s.

And there is also a tangible shift in my life circumstances and relationships from this practice. An undeniable shift is on job opportunities, people wanting to assist me, or come to my workshops. I mean, who doesn’t want to be around a happy person? And the relationships and students I draw into my life reflect it back, so I am then not just generating it myself but receiving it from others. This triggers a quite authentic impulse to smile or laugh, and this lovely positive feedback loop develops. When smiling and laughing, you notice the world smiling and laughing back, and it feels like the world is buoying you up.

The last thing I feel I should say is that I find laughter to be a wonderful and totally underutilized component to happiness. When I’m counseling or teaching meditation to someone, I always also emphasize exercise, getting out in nature, employing mindfulness in daily life, along with some kind of fun, creative energy release. But there is no question that smiling and laughing can supply the fuel for all that.

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t miss Tuesday’s episode on orgasmic meditation!

Is Laughter Good Medicine Or Is It Toxic?

At the Golden Globes Ricky Gervais’ wit was uber sarcastic and as Robert Downey Jr. put it, a bit sinister. Slinging the barbs at other people’s expense can be quite hurtful. Poking fun at an institution, a movie or book, a political statement, or even self-deprecating humor pass muster. However, when we mock someone’s sexual orientation, race/religion, old age, impediment, or recovery from addiction, we wound them to the core, twisting the sword in someone’s weakness – like a bully. By now we all know where bullying can lead.

The anatomy of humor – the choice is yours:
* I make others laugh in order to be well liked and feel good myself
* I make others laugh to lighten their load and cheer them up
* I laugh to generate happiness inside myself when I need a good laugh
* I laugh nervously when I feel frustrated or anxious
* I need to take a jab at others when I laugh

Gender differences regarding laughter:

Essentially, wromen prefer humor that involves stories, narratives and personal information. Women are more analytical regarding what makes them laugh; they use both hemispheres of the brain to process and react to the ideas and information in the funny story. Women also tend to be self-mocking to promote cohesiveness in the group without offending anyone. This is how women cope with the little emergencies that come their way andthey are able to lower blood pressure and reduce tension. For example, instead of experiencing an emotional melt down because of work and taking care of the children forgetting about dinner in the oven,  a woman might say, “Silly me, I burned dinner.” Note: Announcing the reality in a comic tone will prevent any criticism!

The opposite is true for men. Generally, men enjoy slapstick humor and favor the rehearsed joke. Also, they don’t like to make fun of themselves since from an evolutionary perspective, status is very important. Self-mocking humor would reduce male dominance and making them feel stressed. When men and women are polled, the majority of men want someone who will laugh at their jokes and the majority of women want someone who makes them laugh.

Based on individual style, gender and motivation, humor can either promote physical healing, create empowerment and release stress, or it can spiral down to dark humor to injure and shame.  While I always say in stress management, “Don’t take yourself so seriously.” I should add that we must take others more seriously before we sling a barb at their expense. You might ask yourself: What would Lassie do?"

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / truu

6 Ways to De-stress, Let Go and Laugh!

Have you ever sat in a busy airport or train station and just people watched?  It doesn’t have to be a busy place, actually. 

 The other day, I met a colleague for a business lunch at a nearby restaurant.  As we were having our meeting, I became a little distracted because a little boy, perhaps 3 years of age, started making funny faces—not at me or anyone in particular for that matter.  It seemed he was simply making silly faces to entertain himself.  His mom, who appeared like she was having a serious conversation with another adult, intermittently chided him to eat his food and get his face off of his cup (it looked like he was trying to experience the feel of the cup as he mushed it against his mouth).

 He then proceeded to not listen to his mom, jump off his chair and lie down on the floor, to get a feel of the cold floor against his face.  Every time his face touched the ceramic floor, he would giggle.

 It made me giggle.  I wanted to get up and put my face on the floor too.  But I held back, of course.  How would that look?  I am a serious doctor in a serious meeting.  Aren’t I?

Well, before I had a chance to convince myself otherwise, the mom picked the boy up, placed him back in his seat, and asked him to behave and eat his food.  She was very sweet about it, so he didn’t cry, but he definitely looked disappointed.  His pancakes were not as interesting as the floor, but the ice in his drink was!

When did we stop being so curious?

When did we start taking ourselves so seriously?

We do have more responsibilities, more worries….And life is certainly hard.  Is this why the laughter has gone out of us?

I don’t mean the little giggles here and there.  I mean the big belly laughter that makes your eyes water and your stomach ache.  You know, the one that is catching and usually makes everyone around you laugh too., with abandon—The kind of laugh that makes you feel so good.

Why don’t you try it right now?  Exactly. I bet you just chuckled.   Can you let out a guffaw? Are you too self-conscious?

 Research is very strong showing that laughter is the best medicine. Yes, life is difficult, especially right now, but laughter and even smiling is so good for you.  It can turn off your stress response long enough for you to get your head cleared when you are feeling overwhelmed or down.  It can also help make you healthier.

 Here’s how to get yourself laughing more: 

1. Laughter yoga (not this can be hysterical–getting the audience involved with ha, ha, ha, until everyone is crying.

2. Watch a funny movie–in fact, you can watch boddisatva on the metro on youtube.com . IT IS HYSTERICAL!

3. Sit across from your friend and do a stare down–see who laughs first 

4. If you find yourself in a stressful situation and you need to calm down, reflect on a funny moment--perhaps your child did something funny or you did something funny. 

5. You can also just make yourself smile–smile at yourself in front of the mirror and exercise those muscles. 

6. A great visualization exercise that you can do to destress is to imagine yourself as a child.

Then see yourself as this child running around, laughing hysterically or making like you just don’t care, which you don’t at that age.

As you imagine, allow yourself to experience the feel good feelings. 

Some people have problems with this imagery because they were serious as children. If this is the case, find your favorite child (hopefully your own) and mimic them (in your imagination if you feel self conscious) 


What if Your Boyfriend / Girlfriend Was an AIRLINE, Would You Fly With It?

I was talking to an amazingly talented and beautiful woman the other night. Within minutes the subjects ‘SINGLE’, ‘Bad Heartbreaks’ ‘Why can’t I find a good guy’, started to shoot out of her like the tennis balls from those machines.

Listening to her revealed quickly, that she had a knack for the NOT SO GOOD/Available and that she’s basically been dating the same fellow for the past 10+ years. Same inner but different outer. And next thing I know I hear myself asking her:  "If this gent was an AIRLINE would you actually pay and fly with it? 
She said, "No waaay".
It made me think about how we are such creatures of habit and can get used to anything the -GOOD or not so GOOD. Sporting this human talent though, also allows us to develop great endurance. Gain expert knowledge through constant repetition as well as wisdom from the journey. We receive precious information. Yet why is it that so many of us don’t permit ourselves to fully use and benefit from it.

Listening is often the hardest thing for me. But maaan if you give it a solid chance, truly focus on the other "PEOPLE ALWAYS TELL YOU EXACTLY WHO THEY ARE."!! Something my dear friend Denise brought to my attention years ago. The person standing in front of you will reveal to you everything you need to know. Simply by being, acting themselves, there body language, their words, their silence, their scent…even if they are lying they are giving you a truth. But you will have to LISTEN WITH ALL your SENSES -YOUR ENTIRE BEING. Whether you wish to be true to yourself and take all the information that you are getting exactly for what it is -at the end is IS UP TO YOU!

There are many reason of why we’ve developed such SELECTIVE HEARING and why it’s become so difficult to take things/people for who/what they are right here right now. Accept HIM/HER for what he/she is or is not and NOT end up in RE-Runs of the same episode for years and years.  
And what I’d like to share with you today is a way that helped me put the information I’ve was receiving to GOOD use by simply laying it out in a DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. 

Imagine your current partner was an AIRLINE?
How would it’s advertising SLOGAN read? You know the ones you see on the buses, in trains…
Be honest about it and have fun!!!
If you do write the ideas down do so on recycled toilet paper and flush it at the end of the day waving GOOD BYE. 
It’s one of my personal favorite stress-releasing-methods:))
OK, here we go 

create a SLOGAN for your partner –now AIRLINE, and say it out loud with that melodic-catchy-advertising VOICE! For example: 

JOHN/JENNYAIRLINES – We lie, we cheat, but hey’ we are consistent and ALWAYS say we’re sorry after we’ve crashed!!
FLY Daniel/Daniella  AIRLINES YOU will love us, we charge nothing and will use YOU as fuel!
AIR SIMON/SIMONA The ultimate flying experience! We have leg-room, we are green, we are friendly, we are reliable, we want YOU to have the best experience possible –just kiiiidding!
Travel light, choose MICHAEL/Michelle  AIRLINES – No need to bring your baggage WE’VE got plenty!!!
TIM/TAMARA AIRLINESFly with us and we’ll promise you we’ll do everything to make YOUR trip as miserable as possible!
JENNIFER/JACK Jet The airline for the adventurer! We might leave you at the gate, we might take off, we might loose your luggage heck -we might never land!
CHRIS/CHRISITNA AIRLINES The only Airline that has ONE PILOT flying 2 planes at once.
WE bring sufficiency to a whole NEW/HIGHER level!
FRED/FIONA AIRNon stop flights all Day every Day!!! FROM:  PROMISES  TO: EMPTY PROMISES!!    

Think about what price you are paying for the TRIP you are on and think about what kind of AIRLINE you’ve been flying perhaps crashing with over and over again. Maybe its the best one ever or maybe you just need to land, perhaps it’s just time for an upgrade. But maybe it’s time to GET OUT leave the TERMINAL and go for a walk instead, give crashing a break, catch your breath and take a TRIP to YOU!! 


by Patricia  Willis




Naked Yoga – Now I’ve Heard Everything!

WOW WOW WOW.  Here in New York City the craziness just keeps on coming. The newest thing here in the Big Apple is Naked Yoga.  And, as you might have already suspected Naked Yoga, unlike regular yoga classes, is attracting a lot more men.  Just picturing these guys doing the Sun Salutation au natural makes me laugh. 

Naked_yogaThis freedom centered yoga is supposed to liberate negative belief patterns and help those of us who might be overly conscious of our bodies feel more comfortable.

Yoga twists us into different shapes in order to get a different perspective on ourselves and our lives. The yoga practice is meant to move us closer to our truth and our connection with the divine. The folks who run Naked Yoga say "by removing our clothes we are forced to examine our bodies and our belief patterns. We let go more quickly of what is holding us back, and plunge more deeply into our truth and our bliss".

Nakedyoganyc.com say this practice is about accepting and revering the body as a temple in all of its shapes and sizes and honoring the divine that resides within.

So if you’re tired of sweating at Bikram and are ready to let it all hang out, maybe this is your next yoga adventure.

I Shop in the Women’s Dept.

I hate shopping for clothes.

I know that might be strong language, but let me state
my case. For better or worse, I have been blessed with
the body of an adolescent girl. Because I am in fact a
boy, this has driven me crazy for most of my life. Growing
up, I did everything in my power to “bulk up” — working out, drinking protein shakes and adding extra thick insoles to my shoes (yes, they do add a few inches).

It’s only been in the last couple of years that I have come
to peace with my small stature. In fact, I think I’m even
willing to say that I really like being small now. But if
there is anything that draws me back into my past (stuff),
it’s going clothes shopping.

In the men’s section, NOTHING ever fits me. The shoes,
the pants, the socks, the shirts — all too big. So I usually head
to the kid’s section to find that nothing there fits me either
because I’m SLIGHTLY larger than little boys.


Feeling defeated, I often find my way to the women’s section to
(painfully) discover that the clothes fit perfectly as long as
I’m willing to bite my ego and face the customer service

This is why I hate shopping for clothes.

But something really interesting happened during my most recent
clothes shopping experience that’s worth sharing because it’s
significant to our current social environment.

I stopped finding shopping uncomfortable, and instead I discovered the humorous element in it. I found the process of shopping in the women’s department HILARIOUS!!

Instead of getting caught up in a “poor me” story, I just kept
laughing at the comedy of it all. Was a part of me still
mildly frustrated? Definitely! But it felt so much easier and
more enjoyable to laugh instead.

Realize that you choose your perspective and your perspective
creates your reality. If you’re stressing out right now over the
current socio-political-economic climate, choose to lighten up.
Laugh at yourself, laugh at others, laugh at the world.
Nobody benefits from a morbid evaluation of these challenging

I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but this is why
meditation is more important then ever. As you quiet the mind
and connect to a place inside that feels easy and light,
“lightening up” is the natural outcome.

So please, pretty please, pretty please with a cherry on top,
meditate every single day. The world needs it right now….

Much love,

Max Simon

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