A few years ago, I attended the National Wellness Conference, where I embarked on a new journey towards personal happiness. Not knowing anything about the subject, I signed up for a Laughter Yoga Leader Workshop. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but thought that anything with the word “Laughter” in the title, sounded good. I also knew that laughter yoga didn’t involve yoga posses, but did involve laughter and yogic breathing techniques.
The week prior to the workshop, I experienced several stressful events and thought that the workshop couldn’t have come at a worse time. The last thing I felt like doing was laughing, or pretending to laugh. At the time, my work and home life were facing many changes and I was feeling a lot of stress. Laughing when you feel burnt out? Impossible I thought…
Regardless, I decided to attend the workshop and quietly found an empty seat in the back of the room. The instructor immediately led us into a laughing exercise which involved introducing ourselves, saying something silly and laughing. It was completely out of my comfort zone, and I wanted to leave.
The instructor explained that laughter at first would be fake but eventually turns into real or genuine laughter. Although in the beginning, I felt awkward. I started seriously laughing when I looked at other people’s faces and gave myself permission to just let go and be silly. All the seriousness of the recent past melted away. Although forced at first, laughter became contagious and the room slowly began to roar with laughter.
As the weekend progressed, laughing became easier and I had broken through my resistance to remain serious. I completed the weekend workshop feeling lighter and happier and had gained the Certification of a Laughter Yoga Leader.
We can all learn to laugh, even during the hardest of times. Laughter doesn’t take away from the seriousness of hardships that we are experiencing, but it can actually help us to get through these stressful times and be a healthy coping skill. Sometimes when life feels the heaviest, is when we need to laugh the most. Impossible you might think? I had the same thought, but found out that it is possible to give yourself permission to laugh, even if we are dealing with stress, grief and loss or simply feel that life is a struggle. Laughter is not only one of the best medicines, but it connects people, it allows us to feel good, and research shows that its beneficial for our bodies.
Starting today, set an intention to laugh. It doesn’t matter if you laugh alone, or with laugh others. Just laugh!