Tag Archives: Laughing Meditation

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.

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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) 

 

The easiest and cheapest GREEN-BEAUTY tip of the DAY!

A SMILE is one of the most beautiful things on a persons FACE.

To smile, is  the fastest, safest, FACE-LIFT.
Think of it? It can get done within seconds, nanu-seconds and unless you charge yourself it’s for FREEEEE! It’s a MASTER TOOL at your beck and call.           "S   M   I   L   E" 
 
You didn’t even have to have a happy thought did ya’. See how, just by SMILING you changed
everything. It immediately spreads out into your entire body. And that beautiful energy travels and you’ve just changed the temperature within you and in the room you are in. Something beautiful just begun!!  
 
Smiles are like a beautiful fragrance. I’m not suggesting that you ought to smile all the time. I’m sure ‘ the Mona Lisa’ -if she had a way of communicating might say, "This SUCKS, people!" And who can blame the patient dame? But if you are in the middle of something -NOT SO FUN –  FEEL UGLY – IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING AND NOT SEEING YOUR WAY OUT FOR THE MOMENT –  IF YOU FEEL HELPLESS AND HOPELESS – FEEL AS IF YOU ARE BEING BURIED ALIVE, 
 
take a DEEP BREATH and then  remind yourself  that YOU HAVE YOU and because of that FACT you have the power to change THIS MOMENT. It doesn’t get any more convenient than that!! 
 
Exercise:
One of my favorite things to do with clients in order to calm them down is to ask them to put a 
SMILE into every part of their body!! 

Let’s do it:
Put a smile on your for-head -right at the third-eye spot. 
You can use you finger as a magic wand and gently, like a butterfly landing and take off, tap the places on your body. And just think       "SMILE" 
Tap your ears, your eyebrows, your cheeks, your lips, your chin, the tip of your nose, the back of your neck, your shoulders, your chest, your knees, your lower back, your kidneys, your liver, your lungs, your brain, your prostate, your eyeballs, your teeth, the bottom of your feet, your breasts, your hips, your wrists, your intestines, your gall-bladder, your but ….Everything you just tapped is now SMILING perhaps even laughing? Maybe your gall-bladder just told a joke to your eyeballs… imagine that? 
 
NOW FEEL THAT FULL BODY-SMILE 
AND ALL THE BEAUTIFUL ENERGY THAT COMES WITH IT, if it’s flourished 
into LAUGHTER by now then HEAR THAT. Every cell in your BODY IS SMILING, GIGGLING, LAUGHING telling jokes right now!! They are cracking up rolling on the floor laughing. FEEEEEEL that!
 
You might start to experience other emotions all of the sudden surfacing as well. Tears might come up etc. Please DON’T JUDGE ANY OF IT, don’t SUPPRESS any of it!  This exercise isn’t about doing it right but to do it so you get the best out of it.   
Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to FEEL without any labeling and let it KISS YOU on the WAY OUT, as if you’ve hosted an INNER BALL that has come to an end and now all your GUESTS/EMOTIONS are stepping up to thank you, they shake your hand and kiss you good bye. 
 
SMILING is exhausting as well, but it only adds natural BEAUTY and not just to your FACE. 
And like with any workout make sure you stretch before and after:)) 
 
 
love & laugh             Patricia  
 
 

When In Doubt – LAUGH!!

 

A few weeks ago I read,

"IF YOU CAN LAUGH AT SOMETHING YOU’LL NEVER BE AFRAID OF IT"
 
Well let’s get right to it!
 
Exercise:
Think about what you are afraid of right now? And why? Think up the worse scenario with an even worse outcome that you can imagine, something we seem to do naturally. Write the outcome on a piece of recycled paper, but title it like a BOOK COVER or a MOVIE that you are about to see, the only thing is that that BOOK, that MOVIE –you are the STAR in, is a COMEDY not a DRAMA!
 
So take a moment………..now give it a TITLE…, for example: The Anorexic Bank-Account, 30 Dirty Diapers, SCARY BOYFRIEND Part III, The 25 year old Hangover, Orgasm a foreign LAND for Him and Her, The Weight that came for dinner -and never left, My girlfriend and her Husband, Dr. Jekyill and Mr. Credit Card, , ,
 
be creative with this. Or simply start laughing – look at your situation your bank-account and start laughing. LAUGH IT UP!!! LAUGH, LAUGH, LAUGH!!!! If anything else IT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER, even if it’s just for a moment!
 
You might not be able to change the situation you are in this instant but you CAN change your ATTITUDE toward it. What you think you feel!
 
Don’t dam up your channels with FEAR. Keep them open expect THE BEST respect the present and let the good flood you!
 
LAUGH, and make em’ LAUGH

love&laugh -Patricia

Laughing Meditation – Good for an Instructor’s Heart and Soul

The 2nd Tuesdays of the month, I give a Laughing Meditation Session at a Yoga Studio in the Berkshires.  There are plenty of statistics on the benefits of Laughing Meditation for the participants such as: reduced risk of Heart Disease, lower blood pressire, reduction in levels of harmful Stress Hormones, improved lung function and boosts to Immune System.  There is not much (none that I could find) about the benefits for the teacher who is giving the session. 

I am allways surprised when participants stay after the session to share how relaxed they feel – more than in months or that their sinus blockage is completely gone or they haven’t laughed so much in years.   This particular Tuesday, however a young woman surviving with cancer stayed to share her story of invasive surgeries and radical treatments that caused more problems in her body and how Yoga and Ayrveda have been her salvation.  She feels healthy and can exercise and has improved more with Yoga, & Meditation than any Western medicine that was prescribed.  She enjoys laughter meditation and feels true joy in her life.  My heart sings and my soul dances.

Namaste

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