Let me ask you a question. Who were you before the world got a hold of you? Think WAY back to when you were a very young child…before any of the valleys of life ever got a chance to wire any core beliefs into your brain, before any negative experiences had occurred to cause you to think or act in a certain way that you thought the world expected of you, before any coping mechanisms took hold of your mind, and before you possibly began to suppress that inner child and lose that free and childlike spirit. If you really think about it, the answer may surprise you, but that innocent, trusting, and joyful little child that you once were when you entered the world is the real you. It is the you that you were designed to be…no worries about the future or the past, just pure unadulterated joy in the present moment filled with love, acceptance, and happiness. You were designed in love, and you were wired for love before you learned any differently.
If you observe a small child as they go about their day, it is often filled with plenty of laughter, a few tears that are forgotten quickly, a lot of imagination, and plenty of play. Children live in the present moment without a single thought about what is going to happen later that day or what happened yesterday. If they are engaged with a toy, that toy is their sole focus, it is the most important thing in the world to them in that moment, and it is a source of great delight. They are filled with self-love and acceptance as well as love and acceptance of others, and are completely unconcerned with what others think of them. They love readily, forgive easily, laugh without inhibition, and are in touch with their innermost being or their true self. Notice that all of these childlike qualities are extremely similar to the goals of many different types of meditation, spiritual practices, and the like – finding one’s inner truth, being mindful and present, and being completely in touch with and in love with who one really is at their core.
Sometimes true transformative healing isn’t about becoming something new, but rather it is about becoming who you always were – that innocent and beautiful child that you once were and still are at the soul level. Sometimes it is about unlearning what the world has taught us, and relearning how to be unapologetically ourselves. That inner child is still within you, and they are just bursting with excitement at the thought of coming back to the surface and bringing you into alignment with who you always were! There are many different ways to go about getting in touch with your inner child and reminding the brain of who you truly are, and you probably already know where I’m going with this, but laughter yoga is one of the most effective ways to connect with the childlike playfulness in all of us and to help guide us along our paths of true self-discovery and healing.
- Laughter yoga increases the childlike quality of uninhibitedness in all of us. When you first get started, you may feel a bit silly while laughing for no reason, but thanks to mirror neurons, or the neurons in our brain that cause us to sometimes “mirror” actions of others or take on their emotions, when you are participating in a laughter yoga group (in person or on video) with several adults surrounding you laughing with hilarity, your brain will pick up on this, and you won’t be able to help but join in on that joy and childlike playfulness. That child inside of you will come out without a care in the world, and you will be able to easily act in a way that is true and natural to you.
- Laughter yoga increases the childlike quality of joyfulness and glee. Perhaps the most well-known aspect of laughter yoga is that it makes us happier. The brain does not know the difference between real and fake laughter, so when we laugh for no reason, we are telling our brains that we are happy, allowing it to kick in to gear and spread the word to the rest of our body with all sorts of feel good chemicals and hormones. As our bodies and minds are filled with joy, we are put into a more childlike and joyful state which aids in waking up and rediscovering our inner child.
- Laughter yoga increases the childlike quality of resilience and allows us to let things go more easily. When we practice laughter yoga, we are actually rewiring our brains towards positivity and hope. This happens due to the strengthening of neural pathways in our brain associated with happiness, joy, and positivity, and the weakening of neural pathways associated with negativity, sadness, and despair. When our brains are trained to focus on the positive, we have hope, and hope increases resiliency, which children are masters of. In turn, we increase our ability to deal with different life situations as they come up, process them quickly and appropriately, and release them more easily – a.k.a. childlike resilience.
- Laughter yoga increases childlike playfulness. A lot of the laughter yoga exercises practiced in a session are geared towards just being silly, playing, and having fun while laughing all the while. Again, when we are acting in this childlike manner, our brains are reminded of the fact that that child is still within us, and it wants to come out and play. The more we practice laughter yoga, the more the brain reverts to and strengthens the neural pathways that are associated with the child within us, the person who we truly are, and the more it begins to trust, accept, and love that person.
- Laughter yoga brings us into the present moment and allows us to find joy in that present moment. When we are laughing, we aren’t thinking about what is going to happen in the future or what happened in the past. Just as a child delights in a toy, we are fully present in, focused on, and delighted in that laughter. Bringing ourselves into the present moment increases mindfulness allowing our inner child to just be a kid in that moment, and this strengthens that part of us powerfully.