Laughter is the Best Medicine

July 21, 2017 6 Comments

Laughter is the Best Medicine

 

Laughter, it has been said, is the best medicine. Being able to bring humor into the world can be a wonderful, healing thing. There will always be suffering, misunderstanding and conflict. It is the nature of the world. In recognizing the impermanence of all things in life and in making peace with that truth we allow ourselves to fully embrace life in all of its ups and downs. Being able to laugh at life's craziness is good, but being able to laugh at our own craziness is great!

As Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, stated "Change is the only constant." And the Buddha: “The world is afflicted by death and decay. But the wise do not grieve, having realized the nature of the world.”

Some years ago I had the unusual experience of a practice known as Laughter Yoga. I was in a group of friends at Ananda Village, which is perhaps the largest and oldest spiritual community in the United States with over 800 acres of wooded property and over 200 residents including families and monastics. We all laid down on the floor and rested our heads on each others' bellies. Before we knew it, one person's laugh had multiplied into many as a ripple of laughter passed from one stomach to another. It was a powerful experience of happiness for no reason!

If you search "Laughter Yoga Seattle" on Google, you'll find that there are several "Laughter Yoga" meet ups and groups in the city. I highly recommend it!

On the same note, we just received a new arrival at East West called The Man Who Refused Heaven: The Humor of Paramhansa Yogananda. The book contains many stories and jokes that Yogananda told during the course of his life. It seems that most masters and advanced spiritual teachers share a distinctly joyful sense of humor. Perhaps next time you find the day not going your way, take a moment and listen to your favorite comedian. Yogananda said that laughter allows the soul to become more receptive, therefore opening the individual to experiencing higher states of awareness. 

Here's one for you!

From one of my favorite spiritual jokesters, Buddhist meditation teacher, Ajahn Brahm (check out his recent book release Kindfulness in our Mindfulness section!):

Why did the Buddhist coroner get fired?

Because he’d always record the cause of death as ‘birth’.

Have a happy, humorous Friday!

With laughter and blessings,

Bhima




6 Responses

Bhima
Bhima

July 28, 2017

Cool story Rick! Laughter is like ripples in the heart chakra :) Perfect beginning to yoga practice… to be centered in the heart and not stuck in the mind! What a blessing to have had that experience with Dr Rao.

Stanley
Stanley

July 25, 2017

Ive long wondered what the psycho/physiological reason for laughter was.. I guess it’s an energy release of some kind. It feels good to laugh! What is it?

Deb
Deb

July 22, 2017

I love this weeks topic and the stories. I devoured every word and excited to read next weeks topic as well. Laughter Yoga is enjoyment while changing inner and outer worlds. I suppose just as cortisol shoots through the body during stress, opposing energy waves, good chemicals, synchronizing the heart brain energy, move through the body when laughter if experienced. Laughter yoga is an hour of synchronized energy in the body/mind. Hoo hoo haa haa hee hee hoo hoo hoo

Shae
Shae

July 21, 2017

@Rick Covil I love your story!

Rick Covill
Rick Covill

July 21, 2017

To add to the above comment. We were just standing around and not touching. The group had all ages, genders and cultures, so laying together would have pushed it a bit. But, while we were laughing awe were all looking around eyes meeting in hysterical laughter. He might have had us join hands after a bit, don’t remember specifics.

Rick Covil
Rick Covil

July 21, 2017

I went to India in 2001 to Bangelor >> Puthaparti (sp) to see the sage Sai Baba. I took several Yoga classes and did a 7 day detox, a whole "nutter story, at a medical clinic run by Dr Rao, an 80+ Ayurvedic physician. He had enormous energy and vitality. He would always start his Yoga (held on the roof of his clinic) out with 5 min (don’t remember exactly) of laughter. He would just start laughing and walk around gesturing to you all the while laughing hysterically. Soon, everyone was laughing hysterically for absolutely no reason! It was joyous. fun. wonderful! I have always wondered why all the Yoga classes didn’t start out like this> It takes the seriousness out and gives a sense of ease. You just laughed hysterically for awhile so what’s the big deal about getting a certain pose right! :)

Leave a comment


Also in The Journal

An Interview with Gina Salā!
An Interview with Gina Salā!

August 20, 2018

Gina Salā, vocalist, chanting artist, music director and sound healer talks about chanting, yoga, and spirituality. 

See Gina at East West Bookshop on Sunday August 26, 2018 at 5-7pm. $25.

Continue Reading

Come Back to the Breath
Come Back to the Breath

August 20, 2018

Greetings Yogis, it is the month of  August  in the year 2018, and while it may have been minutes, or days or even years since you last took a deep, slow, fully conscious breath, fear not! However long it has been, the great teachings of the ages assure us, that what is important is not how long we have strayed away breath but that we come back it here and now. As you read on, you can begin to tune into the rhythm of your own breath, noticing where it is moving in the body. Maybe just by bringing your attention to it, the breath deepens automatically. Try not to force anything- as the great teacher and founder of Ananda Yoga (the lineage of Yoga practiced at East West Bookshop) Swami Kriyananda taught, “All progress in Yoga is made through greater and greater relaxation.”

Continue Reading

Doing Yoga With Children
Doing Yoga With Children

August 20, 2018

I have been practicing yoga for nearly 30 years and currently teach adults. Most recently however, I participated in a kid’s yoga camp as a teacher for ages 6-8. What the heck, I thought. Yoga has proven useful in many aspects of my life, a valuable tool, let’s see what it does for children. First of all, it was a joyful, playful experience, creatively energizing and exhausting as well.  Children tend to move quicker than adults; most children will move into a yoga posture faster than you can say the name, especially if they have practiced yoga before.

Continue Reading

Join Our Community

Sign up for our weekly email for inspiring content and special offers, event updates, discounts, and more!