Do you remember the last time that you laughed till you nearly split your sides? Laughter is such a great stress reliever. Children laugh effortlessly and frequently, whereas adults don’t laugh nearly as much. I attended a community wellness day recently and amongst the opportunities on offer that included yoga, tai chi, reflexology, belly dancing and meditation, was laughter group. Part of me was fascinated at the rise in popularity of this phenomenon. It is a welcome addition, but interesting that it’s become so popular. Have we reached a point as a society that we need to be reminded and encouraged to laugh in a set environment, or have we simply recognised the healing benefits of a simple inbuilt mechanism to tap into our innate Joy?
Chemical changes happen in our body when we laugh. Endorphins (our body’s natural feel good chemical) are released, creating a feeling of expansion and well being. Some individuals have used laughter as a therapeutic aid for serious illness, to assist in lessening or alleviating pain for periods of time. Additionally, it is believed that it improves the immune system and may even prevent heart disease by increasing blood flow and improving the function of blood vessels. Laughter is powerful.
Notice how infectious laughter can be? Ever been in one of those ‘SERIOUS’ situations where you know if you catch a particular person’s eye across the table at an important board meeting, or a strained family gathering, you will burst into gales of laughter. There is a sense of the ridiculous in the serious. The more you attempt to suppress it, the more it seems to build like a geyser internally until it ruptures and spills out like a lava flow. It happened to me on the weekend at a meditation training day. All was silent, in a room full of people. We were paired up in quiet little groups of two, to deliver a practice meditation. All was going to plan till my practice buddy dropped her folder noisily to the floor. Her eyes opened and I could feel the laughter rising within her. There was no containing it and it kind of eased out the edges of her like a single musical note out of a squeeze box. Her face was contorted in the effort to contain it and then it happened. The contagion. I caught it too………….. Aaaaahhhaaaaaahhhaaaaa. A beautiful deep laugh that comes from our core. Aaaahhhhhaaaahhhhhhaaaaa. The whole room caught it then. A sea of delightful mirth rolling around freely.
What makes us laugh? Laughter is generated by different events for all of us. If I scan my life to reflect on what makes me laugh there are some pinnacle stand out moments. One of my favourites is a creek crossing on a 4 day hike that went ‘very wrong’…… 4 of the 5 of us ended up in a small creek in the back blocks of the Tasmanian wilderness. It was not meant to be that way. I fell in first and one by one as the others attempted to assist me they also fell in. Laughed so hard I nearly wet my pants! Now I could have been incensed. Wet, cold and no hot shower at the end of that day or the next, but it was funny.
I feel that humour is generated when we feel that something is about to unfold in a particular way and the reality is far different; like the creek crossing. The surprise of the moment. There is a key in that for me. How often do we find that life delivers events that are unexpected and not going to plan? Frequently. There is a choice. Do we find it annoying, inconvenient and upsetting? Or do we find it delightful in its unexpected nature? “Ooooh, did you see what just happened to me? Ha ha ha ha.” Can we loosen up and allow ourselves to be in the flow of life and what it delivers? Feels like we get so caught up in the adult world and the serious nature of our expectations and wants that we have forgotten the child-like delight of being in the moment.
I wonder what today will bring? Reckon I will just let it unfold and watch it with as much joy and wonder as I can muster. He he he. In JOY.