Peered into the window of a new age bookstore in Mountain View called East West. You may know of it or seen these kinds of stores: gong, meditation bells, and any and every book there is under the new age sun. I’ve never attended a workshop, but my eyebrows went “huh?” Laughter Meditation, it read. Eh, I thought I may as well try. Besides, its an Indian guy with goofy smile, and it instantly reminded me of a tv segment, about this man in india who did these Group laughter sessions in the park. I don’t remember too, much except this old India man shouting in Indian english ” I don’t know why I am laughing- bah ha ha ha!!!”
The workshop would be after dinner with my wife and her cousins. Since it was Chinese food, I ate an inordinate amount, and was literally hobbling to the laughter workshop. Without the assistance of my wife and her cousins, I was there on my own wondering how sweet and sour fish (which was like fish & chips with sweet and sour sauce!) versus laughter meditation would do. I thought, I could either sit in the very front, where I would only spray the guru, or sit in way in the back so only the first two rows would have a clue – I guess until the smell reached the front.
I paid by $10 bucks and entered the room carpeted with ornate area rugs, with a corner devoted to a couple of buddha statues, and thought hey if I sprayed the buddha, he surely wouldn’t mind. I also noticed the illuminated starry Jesus 2.0 of the universe paintings on the corner – fun, I liked this version of Jesus, not so condemning. Barf here all you want he seemed to say, its ok you are forgiven.
Arya was our Laughter leader, and of course, the seats were positioned in a circle. I closed my eyes, hoping to settle my stomach. Arya, asked us to stand as this was much more experiential than lecture. We stood up and were directed to look into each other’s eyes as we laughed, as that is where the laugh becomes contagious, and it is looking into the soul of the other person. Laughter he told us was the core of us, or true being, and our joy. Ahh, this was awesome, here was a fun and obvious example of joy. Why not? Yes, I have felt joy in sitting meditation, but how can I transfer that to everything I do, and everyday life? Laughter?? Yeah, I like already!!!!!
Arya, said act as if you were a 5 year old child. A child’s laughter is uninhibited, and can be WITHOUT ANY REASON at all!!! Meaning no jokes are told, because it involves the mind, plus humor doesn’t always cross over from one culture to another. Anyway, to laugh without reason is as close to what I think is enlightenment – being in the now, with every part of your being, a lightness, and it is positively infectious!
I love it!
By the way, I thought it was wierd at first that we started of with a forced laugh, but I was reminded that the body doesn’t know how or why it laughs, laughter still produces the benefits of a real laugh. Eventually, it wears down the anxiety, to where it is either manageable or completely gone. Over time, if we laugh and thus live in joy more often, the benefits would be much better had you not laughed. And then there is question, If all is for vanity, and the real you-niversal purpose for all is to find JOY, then why not fill life with laughter, as it is the purest expression of JOY/enlightenment.
I picked up a little pocket book of laughter therapy, and it mentioned a Chinese folk story of the Hotei. Actually, I think the name is Japanese.
But anyway, its the story of the laughing Buddha, that we’ve all probably seen as statue. Sometimes its got this enormous belly. Well the story goes that Hotei would just stand or sit in the middle of the village an start laughing. At first, everyone thought he was crazy, but then the one person started laugh, until the whole village was laughing. He would go from village to village spreading laughter. People thought he provided so much joy to their lives – even though he was laughing for no reason, that he supposedly sainted.
This is a great addition to my morning wake up. To force a laugh at first, when sitting in meditation, and then when I have to go to the bathroom, laugh in the mirror. Today, I did just that and i did not have the feelings of dread and anxiety that usually gets me up in a panic.
Now the practice is in when gloom and doom sets in I start to force a laugh until I feel lighter. The mind has no room to ruminate and being the pain-body & mind loop that is just nothing but suffering. With laughter I can stop the downward spiral in its tracks.
Laughter Yoga, was recently started by a Dr Katari in a park, because of the studies of Laughter’s health benefits. Here’s a clip from youtube:
Here’s a list of Video Exercises from the Founder’s Website. There are no rules of how to do it, these methods are launching points as the main objective to actually laugh: www.laughteryoga.org
Finally Here is a video on Youtube called “Bohdisattva in Metro.” Looks like there are others in this series. This one one definitely made me laugh from the gut!