I first heard about the healing power of laughter in the 70s when I read about how Norman Cousins cured himself of a fatal disease with the help of the Marx Brothers, but I already believed in it. In college, my best friends and I formed a “super society” bonded in a belief that laughter and song were the best antidotes to life’s challenges and terrors. That bond of laughter got me through a lot of heartache and loss until I became overwhelmed for a time by a combination of personal and political crises. I then threw myself into an angry activism focused on the anti-nuke movement. My friends warned me that I was becoming unbearable. Without laughter to ease the stress, I also grew tired of my angry face. Luckily, the anti-nuke movement quickly succeeded in halting new plants and I slowly lightened up again.
My friends next worked hard to convince me that a final solution was dating one of their colleagues – I resisted for almost a year and then embarked on a path that led to the most laughter-filled and glorious days of my life, a partnership with my late husband Tim Robinson.
Amazingly, it was laughter and tears meditations that helped me get through the pain of Tim’s sudden loss after surgery. I had met meditation master Pragito Dove (http://discovermeditation.com/) in San Francisco where we were both members of the National Association of Women Business Owners. She had just written a book on “Lunchtime Enlightenment” about meditation in the workplace and we started a long friendship. She counseled me on how to use meditation to heal after Tim’s death, when Doctors could only prescribe strong anti-depressants to cure my overwhelming pain and grief. She knew that laughter and tears were closely aligned and explained why allowing the tears, not blocking them, would also allow the laughter to flow. At Tim’s funeral, his family agreed that we needed to share the joy he brought into the world, not focus on our grief. We laughed that day as much as we cried.
The financial crash brought my latest test of strength as my career faced daunting challenges. The stress seemed endless. Suddenly Pragito was back to the rescue, this time with a new teleclass on laughter meditation. Once I took the first course, I became convinced that I wanted to take the entire series to get certified as a laughter meditation coach – that’s how much it affected me.
Now Pragito is offering a FREE CALL, THE POWER OF LAUGHTER MEDITATION on Tuesday, May 3rd (5pm PT and 8pm ET) to introduce laughter meditation to newcomers and demonstrate how it can change your life (http://discovermeditation.com/programs/free-call-discover-the-power-of-laughter-meditation/). In this increasingly complex and stress-filled world, please bring on the clowns!
I’m a big believer in laughter as a stress reliever, but I was absolutely riveted bythe CBS newscast on the heroic rescue of the Chilean miners last weekend when one of the miners credited a combination of faith and pranks for keeping them alive. Yes, playing jokes on each other as they awaited rescue was one of the ways he said they fought off fear and despair. The news reporter also noted that the miners said they made a pact of solidarity that bonded them together through the ordeal.
Most of us will never face as long and frightening an experience as those trapped miners in South America, but few people would deny that we live in crisis-filled times with seemingly little to laugh about. I started my career in journalism and I remember one reason that I loved so many of my comrades, starting in journalism school, was because we seemed to find laughter a necessary tool of the trade. Nowadays corporations and hospitals are recognizing the importance of laughter in relieving stress, and are hiring experts to teach their employees techniques for lightening up. There are even laughter clubs springing up world- wide and a World Laughter Day in May.
In that spirit, I’m sharing a link to join the free Laughing Buddhas Network, where the goal of my friend, meditation expert Pragito Dove, is to create an epidemic of laughter meditation worldwide! I’m a member and I sure could use more “comrades in mirth” to survive these troubled times! Go to http://discovermeditation.com/laughing-buddhas-network/