I first heard about laughter meditation when my son was 5 years old. Like all children, he loved to laugh, play, dance, sing, have fun. He was a natural and highlighted how much I had lost touch with those qualities in myself. Enter the laughter meditation (instructions at end of blog), which gave me permission to invite my deeply-buried spontaneity, playfulness, wonder, creativity, imagination and joy to be lived and enjoyed NOW. Wow! All was not lost. I was re-claiming myself and discovering a whole new revitalized me.
It seemed crazy at first to invite my son to do a meditation with me. I thought of meditation as a serious, grown-up activity. However, he loved it. His laughter helped me regain my authentic laughter, and in the quiet time he liked the opportunity to lie in stillness and quiet.
I had gotten stuck on the word "meditation." When I explained that we were going to laugh together for no reason, and then sit or lie down in silence, he jumped right in and had no problem with it at all. It was my mind that had been making a problem out of it.
So there we were, mother and son, laughing (first step) and then sitting or lying down in silence (second step) together. His authentic laughter triggered my giggles and joy to arise from the depths of my being. I was inspired by my 5-year-old.
Laughing together reminded me of the innate happiness that I also was born with. The joy was still there, buried under all the stress and to-do lists. The more I practiced, the more I laughed. And the energy spilled over into our daily life, as if we were always looking for an excuse to start laughing, smile, have fun and be playful.
The laughter practice was to kick in for us big time when my son arrived at the roller coaster teenage years. We were still able to find those moments of laughter when we connected heart to heart and all differences dissolved. I was grateful we had cultivated the practice for so many years because it had created a strong bond of love that was able to withstand the hurricane test of teenage unfoldment.
One of the most powerful benefits I experienced from the laughter meditation was my enhanced creativity. I discovered an ability to spontaneously come up with creative solutions in tense situations that had the potential to explode into conflict. The highest form of creativity, I found, is relationships. Certain people in certain situations require us to dig deep within ourselves to come up with creative, compassionate solutions that serve the highest good of all.
Laughter meditation gave me a creative edge to navigate this uncharted territory. It wasn't always perfect, but I credit the laughter practice with helping us jump through the hoops of life with greater ease and agility.
Now my son has his own son and daughter and tells me he wants to raise his little ones the way he was raised. The legacy continues, and I know for sure there will always be a lot of laughter, and quiet time, in our family.
Children's Two-Minute Laughter Meditation
The first step helps children -- and you as well -- to release stress and tension, and the second step brings calm, relaxation, and grounding. Do this meditation with your children, and friends too, if you like. Start with one minute for each step, and then vary the length of time depending on the ages, personalities, and schedule you have to work with.
STEP ONE: LAUGHTER (one minute)
You and the children shout "yahoo!" three times, and then burst out laughing. There should be no talking, only laughing... very easy with kids!
STEP TWO: SITTING OR LYING DOWN IN SILENCE (one minute)
Ring a chime or bell (better than shouting out "stop," which can be jarring) and have the kids sit or lie down quietly for one or two minutes. The more you do this with them, the more they will get into the rhythm and idea of it, and you might be able to try four minutes of each step, depending on your situation.
Allow the same amount of time for each step. Allow the children to continue to laugh in the silent step until the laughter dies down naturally. Try and make sure they have their eyes closed but don't force. The most important thing is that you and the kids are enjoying yourselves and connecting non-verbally (i.e., no words from the intellectual mind).