Laugh – and be still. Express, and then feel.
Take a moment to breathe and be still – relax, breathe, smile, and feel.
The practice of laughter is a joyful path to mindfulness. Why is there so much attention on mindfulness nowadays? Benefits include:
- Become more resilient to daily stress
- Improve your health and well-being
- Improve your relationships
- Become happier
The apparent contradiction between the explosiveness of laughter and the calm of mindfulness dissolves when we feel the stillness after the laughter. When we develop our laughter meditation practice, through nls: natural laughter skills, laughter yoga and/or laughter therapy, and use it to become more aware, we are experiencing a mindfulness meditation practice.
What are the benefits?
Why use laughter practices? Benefits include:
- Physical workout
- Improved breathing
- Produce natural painkillers
- Antidote to the ‘blues’
The laughter meditation technique has two parts. First is to develop the ability to chuckle in a good-natured way as we exhale, on two or more consecutive out-breaths. Four consecutive chuckling out-breaths is a good number to start with.
The second part after this laughter practice is to stop, smile, breathe and feel. When we focus our awareness in this way, we are using classic mindfulness awareness. We are developing our present moment awareness.
As a practice, the more we use our awareness in this way, the more mindful we become and the greater the benefits we experience.
Why laughter practices?
The attractiveness of laughter practices as a form of mindfulness practice is enjoyment.
Some people find the laughter practices enhance mindfulness without having to go through the mindfulness process. They immediately start to experience the benefits through their smiling and laughing practices alone.
The psychology, science and medicine that underpin this are becoming better known all the time. It is not a coincidence or a fluke that these practices work. There is an ever expanding evidence base which supports it, from positive psychology, hard science, and psycho-neuro-immunology.
How do I use them?
The basic practice is to maintain a genuine good-natured smile for 10-15 seconds, and then relax, breathe, smile and feel.
You can extend this into a full-blown inner smile practice.
The more advanced but still simple practice is to chuckle in a genuine good-natured way on 4 consecutive out-breaths – and then relax, breath, smile and feel.
If you already have a mindfulness practice, you can explore doing it with a smile. The smile can be almost invisible as long as it softens your face and you experience this effect on your awareness. Meditate mindfully, with a smile.
If you are already very experienced, you can explore adding the good-natured genuine chuckle to your mindfulness meditation. As you are already experienced, no doubt you are comfortable with exploring new qualities in a non-judgemental way, just to see how they affect you.
There is a tribe for whom these additional practices bring unexpected benefits.
What I have learnt in the process of awakening my inner laughing Buddha is being able, at any moment, to choose to enter the state of having a genuine warm smile and that this has a transformative effect on me. It is as if I have found the last piece of a jigsaw, which holds everything together, a magic key which enables me to access, without effort, those qualities that I have been ‘working’ towards.
Namely, acceptance, peace, lightness, playfulness, joy in living, connection being more centred, and being able to inhabit my body more. It is so simple, yet so profound, it’s laughable!
Do let me know how you get on?
Where can I learn more?