Tag Archives: Compassion

Glastonbury festival: sex, drugs & laughter yoga

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As Tina Turner might have said: ‘what’s laughter yoga got to do with it?’

Well, as it turns out – everything!

Fortunately I had decided before going into the 200,000-strong melee that I was going to have a wonderful festival. I’m very glad I decided that. I had lots of opportunities to laugh in the face of disaster after disaster, and I took them all.

First though, the ‘good’ bits. 2015-06-28 10.53.22Doesn’t get much better than the Dalai Lama, tens of thousands saw & heard him, everyone loved his message of warm-heartedness, and managing to get this close was a result!
The essence of his message – practice compassion, to everyone, to all life, always. Practice warm-heartedness, and keep practicing – which is at the heart of my own laughter yoga practice (and boy, did I need to practice – more on that later on). And he of course is a big giggler, especially at himself – a warm, wonderful, enthusiastic example.

Secondly, my team – oh, they were outstanding. It’s always good but this year was the best by far. 2015-06-28 14.58.34 2015-06-28 14.41.12We were all present, engaged, enthusiastic and because we loved what we were doing, the crowd loved it too. Every day got better and the crowd got bigger. We got crazier, more spontaneous, more outrageous, and so did they. Laughter congas & laughter dragons every day.

Thirdly, the music of course. Lionel Richie, I love you, and I loved ‘dancing on the ceiling, with you. We all did. We2015-06-28 16.41.522015-06-27 20.27.38 all loved getting ‘Happy’ with Pharrell too. HUGE crowds.


Then there was all the quirky stuff, all the time, wherever you looked – like the tightrope-walking fiddle player? 2015-06-27 18.06.40The Mexican slow-motion bungee jump2015-06-24 21.38.40ers?




The fire show? 2015-06-24 22.09.13The fire?! 2015-06-24 22.43.33




rubbishA rubbish orchestra?




The face painting? 2015-06-27 17.49.10

After all this, what could possibly go wrong?



1. Noisy neighbours / not much sleep – every night, another opportunity to use silent laughter practices and extend warm-hearedtness & compassion. First night, excited rowdiness. Second night, pre-dawn rowdiness. Third night, all night rowdiness. Fourth night, teenage rowdiness. Thank you for allowing me to develop my practices so much. I lay in bed, smiled, chuckled to myself, and silently extended wamth to my revelling neighbours.

2. Rain. My tent ended up on a lake – and there were three little holes in the groundsheet, so there was a little lake inside too. Lots of Edward de Bono (lateral thinking) and laughter yoga skills needed here.

3. My glasses. My new £200 glasses. Collected on Monday, lost on Thursday…….breathe, relax, smile – and report to Lost & Found, giving all my contact details..

The final very best bit, my highlight even above the Dalai Lama was my wallet.

I lost my wallet – cash, cards, lots of ID and more.

However, before I even knew I’d lost it, it was returned to me?!
I was mid-conversation when my phone rang. I saw a number I didn’t know, said to my friend ‘this call is important, I have to take it’, and the voice the other end of the line said, ‘you don’t know me, but I’ve got your wallet’. I checked my pocket, and yes, it wasn’t there! Hahahahaaaaaaa! Two angels in human form had found it where I’d been sitting a few moments before, rung into Lost & Found, got my phone number from them (you see – if I hadn’t lost my glasses, they wouldn’t have had my number?!), and promptly contacted me.
My £200 lost glasses ended up saving me £000’s of stress & hassle – and gave me my most heartfelt laugh of the festival.

Oh, by the way, the festival was all about laughter yoga, not sex & drugs at all.

2015-06-28 10.37.08



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Float, don’t sink – be a cork, not a stone

I was asked recently: ‘how do you stay buoyant when life gets ‘difficult’?’
How indeed? The question within the question in our modern stressful times is how to stay positive, how to avoid anxiety and overload, how to stay buoyant and float like a cork, not sink like a stone.
I find two approaches work well, one is insight, and the other is practice. The key to both is to give up resistance, accept that life is as it is, and change what you can. This way you stay on top of life, you float, not sink.
Many years ago, a lovely (and insightful!) friend observed that, given the slightest chance, things generally work out for the best. She is a good-natured soul, she always has adventures and laughs about them. She is a fine embodiment of this approach, constantly radiates fun, and finds the best in situations.
Not everyone is like this. However, her insight did get me pondering. I consciously and deliberately started exploring hypothetically: what if everything IS working out for the best? What if every experience carries its own resolution and its own answer within it? What if the purpose of the disappointment and even depression is not to hurt us but to strengthen us? What if the purpose of suffering isn’t to make us suffer, but to liberate our consciousness, and make us more compassionate, tolerant and happier?
Commentators from the Dalai Lama, to Victor Frankl, to daily social media users all observe that sometimes life’s difficult times produce beautiful and unexpectedly wonderful consequences. The wise course is to be open to this possibility as soon as possible – not to beat ourselves up when plans go awry but to treat the experience simply as information and use it to build a better future.
How do we do this?
A fine psychological practice is ‘benefit finding’, looking for the benefit in the experience. This practice trains us actively to look for positives. As with all practices, the more we use it, the better it works. We can all practice beating anxiety and stress and focusing instead on promoting our own peaceful happiness.
Squirreled away in the heart of this practice is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a stress-buster, a remedy for depression and is at the heart of empowerment. When we are mindful we experience the ‘now’ and we move from a place of resistance to one of acceptance. We move from a story of ‘I wish this hadn’t happened’ to ‘Here I am, life is what it is, what can I do now?’ We take control of our life again.
A complementary and experiential practice that fits well with ‘benefit finding’ is the key nls: natural laughter skills and laughter yoga practice of breathing and smiling. The practice is to breathe deeply & slowly and smile gently. It is a core exercise in ‘Awakening the Laughing Buddha within’ because it is a simple and natural stress-buster. It works because it automatically induces calmness and peaceful happiness. It allows us to stop and take stock, to re-centre ourselves and find our buoyancy.
It helps us float like a cork, not sink like a stone.

Let’s start by breathing deeply and smiling gently?

laughing buddha



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How to find your guru or spiritual leader (it’s easy, just look around)

What is a guru? What is a spiritual leader? Who’s yours? Do you have one? Do you want one? Do you need one?

I meet mine all the time.

A guru is someone who teaches spiritual truths, a spiritual leader, someone we learn spiritual truths from. A typical portrayal of a guru is a venerable Asian person, either man or woman, wrapped in a cloth, sitting on an elevated chair or throne, dispensing wisdom pearls either through a discourse or in response to questions. Typically, they are surrounded by acolytes and seekers, all of whom are looking to find something through their guru’s special radiance, something they haven’t been able to find or maintain in themselves, like peacefulness, bliss or serenity. They sometimes find it in their guru’s presence, and then lose it again when they re-enter planet earth.

There is another way to find your spiritual truths.

First, what is the most important spiritual truth? Is it knowledge, insight, wisdom?
Or is there a more fundamental one, highlighted repeatedly by gurus and teachers everywhere, namely Loving Kindness & Compassion?

If this is the deepest spiritual truth, what more do you need to know?

Secondly, where are you going to find it? We’ve all heard the old saying ‘the answer lies within’.
What if it really does?
What if what we’re seeking is actually inside us all along, all the time, always? What if we always know what to do, even if we think we don’t? What if it’s just a question of looking inside in the right way? What if it’s more a question of feeling inside and receiving the message, even if it’s uncomfortable, not what we want to hear, and not what we like?
What if no one else can do it for us?
What if we have to do it ourselves?
What if we can find it whenever we look inside in the right way?

Thirdly, if the deepest spiritual truth is Loving Kindness & Compassion ,what else do you need to know?
If you already know this deepest truth, what is more information other than distracting entertaining brain-food, an avoidance of actually doing the work?
If you already know what to do, what is more important than doing it? Isn’t the doing of it as a diligent daily practice, the most important truth of all?

I’ve come to follow this approach for many years now. Once I realised it’s all about Loving Kindness & Compassion, I realised the most important thing to do is to keep filling as much of my life with it as possible. Everything else is secondary. Yes, I love my laughter yoga, my mindfulness, my ‘be here now’, my healing, my breathing techniques, but the main focus is Loving Kindness & Compassion.

I am aware, every day, how much more I have to do. I am a work in progress. Every day I fail constantly and am judgemental, unkind, and critical. I’m a daily failure. Fortunately I’ve trained myself not to focus on my failures but to focus on my expanding Loving Kindness & Compassion, and I use every opportunity I can to help me, because I need all the help I can find.

I need my guru, my spiritual teacher, badly. Happily, I’ve come to realise the truth in the saying ‘if you know how to listen, everyone is your guru’. I’ve become aware how everyone I meet, however casually, is an opportunity to practice Loving Kindness & Compassion. Everyone I meet is an opportunity to extend Loving Kindness & Compassion, whoever they are. Whether they’re teenagers being truculent, politicians telling lies, people being casually rude and unkind, they are all my teachers, my gurus. This is especially true when I feel the sting of irritation because they are doing me the service of highlighting my need for further practice. They benefit too because I make a point of extending Loving Kindness & Compassion to them, so they’ve helped me and I’ve helped them, aka win/win.

I now have many gurus, and I find them everywhere every day. I hope from now on you do too.


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