Category Archives: laughter therapy

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.

www.joehoare.co.uk

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The laugh at the end of the tunnel.

The revolution is underway. It’s on television. It’s on the radio. It’s in social media. It’s happening. Yes, every day, people are being ‘turned’ by the healing power of laughter.

It’s a revolution because through nls: natural laughter skills, laughter yoga, the healing power of laughter and others, laughter is being explored like yoga and meditation. It is being explored as a way of promoting your own health, wellbeing and happiness.

Laughter used to be viewed to something that only happened when something was funny – so, nothing funny, no laughter. How sad was that? There can be long pauses between funninesses, long no-laughing gaps. How depressing.

This started to change big time in the 1970’s after Norman Cousins’ experiences (‘Anatomy of an Illness’) when he laughter himself well. The change speeded up from the mid 1990’s when Dr Kataria started Laughter Yoga. The impetus is gathering all the time – laughter is good for your health.

Laughter is especially good for your spiritual health. It liberates your consciousness, opens your heart, helps you connect and communicate better – in short, it connects you with your innate joyfulness. Your laughter becomes not the destination but your way of travelling. Taoists call this ‘laughter readiness’, ready at a moment’s notice to roar with laughter at the absurdity and ridiculousness of life, and the perfect counterpoint to crying about it?

There are wheels within wheels:

– You can train yourself to laugh more.

– The more you laugh, the more things you find to laugh about.

– The more you laugh, the funnier life gets.

– The more you laugh, the happier you become. ‘We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh’ observed the psychologist William James. It’s a fine way of travelling.

Happy travels to you all.

www.joehoare.co.uk

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Homage to Laughter Yoga

My debt to laughter yoga is huge. My delight at meeting Madan and Madhuri was enormous. The freedom they gave me to laugh out loud joyously is priceless.

I first came across laughter clubs in 1996, in the Funny Old World section of Private Eye magazine, where I read about laughing for the sake of laughing. I was already running personal development workshops (free your natural voice / toning & overtone chanting) where people laughed lots anyway. One person came up to me after a session and said they’d never laughed so much in their life before, and she was well into her 50’s by then. So I was accustomed to the liberating power of laughter. However, the thought of running a workshop called ‘laughter workshop’ was just too daunting, so I was intrigued by this article. I still have a copy today.
I was also aware of Patch Adams, had read about Robert Holden and the healing power of laughter in Matthew Manning’s excellent ‘Guide to self healing, so I dipped my toe in and ran my first workshop in 1997. I never really felt comfortable in these sessions because I didn’t feel I had the proper response to the vibe: ‘go on, make me laugh’ – until I met Dr K in 2002.
I have had several life-defining moments in my short life, and this was another of them. I drove up to Birmingham where he was running a workshop, we met the evening before, and I just loved every second. And this was before the workshop itself where he created a space where I finally gave myself full permission to laugh fully, joyously, for a long time. More importantly, the workshop also gave me an essential insight, that last piece of my laughter jigsaw, that one piece without which the picture was incomplete – connection.
My role was not to make people laugh, but to help people connect. When we connect in good-natured & open-hearted way, natural joyfulness wells up and expresses itself through laughter. Laughter itself can cause this of course, but when laughter combines with connection, magic happens.

I was so moved by this experience, I invited Madan and Madhuri back to the UK the following year where we had a couple of fabulous days in Bristol, more training – and some real life. When he arrived at the train station (from Birmingham), he’d lost his passport. I observed ‘that’s no laughing matter’, to which he replied ‘well, actually, I think I need to laugh more’, and did. There was someone walking his talk. Inspirational.

Madan, you lit a beacon in my life for which I will always thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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