“If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present.” ~Roy T. Bennet
Indulge me if you will. Set a timer, and laugh for 15 seconds. Once you’ve done that, answer the following questions (don’t worry – there’s no right or wrong answer, you won’t be quizzed at the end of this, and some probable answers will follow 🙂 ):
- What were you thinking about while you were laughing?
- What future event were you worrying about while you were laughing?
- What past mistakes were you fretting about while you were laughing?
- What emotions or feelings did you feel while you were laughing?
I can’t read your mind, but your respective answers to those questions were likely something like these:
- I wasn’t really thinking about anything, rather I was focused on laughing.
- I wasn’t thinking about the future, so I wasn’t worried about it, rather I was just thinking about laughing during those 15 seconds.
- I wasn’t thinking about my past, so there was no thought of any past occurrences good or bad, rather I was just thinking about laughing for those 15 seconds.
- I felt happy, joy, acceptance, playful, free, clear, present, focused, childlike, etc.
Notice that when you were laughing, you were consumed with the laughter. That was your focus. Also notice that because that was your focus, you weren’t stressing about future events or past blunders. It kept you present, in the moment, and focused. Lastly, notice that the emotions and feelings that the laughter produced were all positive and enjoyable sensations to experience.
You’ve just experienced a teensy tiny taste of the mindfulness and positive mental state that laughter yoga can provide. In general, mindfulness can be described as a pleasing state of being aware in the present moment with complete acceptance and no form of judgment of one’s thinking patterns, physical sensations, feelings, or emotions. It can also be described as a state of non-thinking or emptiness of the mind. This is an extremely sought after mental state, and people often take part in strict and rigorous practices in an attempt to achieve it.
The good news is that there is a simple path that we can all travel that will help guide us towards mindfulness, and that path is laughter yoga! As we just experienced in those 15 seconds of laughter, when we are laughing, our minds are emptied of the stresses of everyday life (past, present, and future). Laughter brings us into the present moment, where we are solely focused on laughing. Laughter can stop those pesky stress loops that our brains sometimes gets stuck in completely in their tracks, bring us to a state of awareness in the present moment, where we are not worried about the past or future, and fill us with positivity and acceptance of ourselves exactly as we are in that moment. Basically, when we are laughing, thinking just pauses, and we experience true moments of mindfulness.
On top of facilitating this blissful state within us, when we practice laughter yoga regularly, our brains become more wired towards mindfulness in general, and we will find that this state of mindfulness spills over into other parts of our daily lives. We are able to be present and joyful more often and in a larger variety of circumstances. In turn, we are happier, we are kinder, we are more loving, we are more compassionate, we are more patient, and we are better able to cope with anything that may come our way. Laughter yoga is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to cultivating mindfulness and all of its benefits.