I intend to laugh my way through the Apocalypse. Reading a recent article in The New Yorker about Laughter Yoga, I was marveled by the brilliant logic of it. This low impact, chakra-smart exercise may be a true DIY miracle breakthrough. The process seems too good to be true. It's nirvana for lazy people who like to have a good time and laugh a lot -- just like me.
I want to become an advocate for Laughter Yoga. It can change the world. The physical action of laughing affects one's Life on many levels: body, heart and soul. Laughter is a stress-reliever.
Laughter Yoga creates a practice or an exercise of laughing. The New Yorker piece by Raffi Khatchadourian describes the creation of the movement and its restorative and pain-relieving qualities.
Most compelling is a thorough section on the medical benefits. It's an old story. Medical science has been considering the physiological benefits of laughter for a very long time (and pharmaceutical companies are trying to figure out how to charge for it). Now the Establishment needs to study it.
Some think that the intense joy and soulful freedom of laughter is like having a conversation with God. A good giggle is transcendent. In this Life, a laugh is often as good as it gets. Laughter is on par with the act of creation. Laughter is a shortcut to our pure inner-child. Love may conquer all, but the elation of Love is infrequent. A laugh can occur anywhere, spontaneously and easily. An orgasm tops the charts, but in deference, a laugh does not demand a partner, drinks and dinner.
Intrigued, I immediately found a Laughter Yoga meeting in a Los Angeles suburban city. I had to check it out. The group was captained by an Asian cheerleader who was filling in for the local leader who was teaching an out of town seminar. The group totaled six when I joined the room. Groups vary in size, averaging 20, but sometimes number a hundred.
The general premise is simple: breathe, relax the body and be joyful. You will live longer and better.
Some clapping, laughing and eyeball-locking interaction got the ball rolling. Nothing horribly lame, the exercises were simple, fun and creative. One does not need a joke (or Jay Leno) in order to laugh. You can guffaw just for the hell of it.
Your body doesn't have a sense of humor, but it does know how every muscle and tendon changes and relaxes with a chortle. The oxygen intake is greater. The body recognizes the physical action of a laugh and everything reacts in the best possible way. Conversely, what does your body do when you are angry and frightened? It tenses up and shuts down.
After the session, I powwowed with my laugh mates. For the newbie, the most difficult thing in Laughter Yoga is allowing yourself to let go. We are vulnerable when we laugh. That is why so many people tend to be afraid of laughter, joy and glee.
In an environment where everyone is gladly forcing a laugh, it's not so hard to peel the onionskin of our fears and swan dive into the womb of childlike merriment.
The hour flew by. I never broke a sweat, but I heated up. No exercise was repeated and oxygen was the focus. Breathing is something that we all do well enough, but few are really good at it.
Afterward, my lungs felt cleaner and larger. My head tingled with euphoria. A weight on my shoulders had lifted.
The days, life is harder and more confusing than ever before. The old tried-and-true survival tactics are insufficient for the fury of the End of Times. A case of Pabst Blue Ribbon is not enough. The only painkiller for an event like the Apocalypse is a strong sense of humor.
These are trying times. It is so easy to get lost in the dense jungle. There is a jigsaw of green in every direction, hiding due north. By gut or guile, we carry-on, hacking our machete into the endless and indistinguishable verdant color, wading a path forward. Somewhere, forward.
At times, we stop, retrace a path and change direction. It seems unending.
And, after a time, in an instant, we breakthrough to a wide clearing and crystal waters. The dense canopy of the jungle has lifted. We can see the sun, follow its direction and re-chart our path. We can start again, with a laugh.
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Artwork by Gordy Grundy
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