Laughter can be so connecting. I'm sure you've had those moments…moments where you've started to laugh, and it's taken you to a very good place. It's like you can feel the stress leaving your body, like everything seems a little bit lighter, like at at that moment all is good and right in the world.
Today I have a special guest and personal friend here with us – Katie West, from The Levity Project. Katie's life mission is all about bringing more joy and levity into our world. She does this in a number of ways – everything from coaching clients on incorporating laughter into daily activities to public events of bringing laughter and lightness out into the world.
Is laughter easy for you? Perhaps sometimes it's not. Maybe it feels awkward to laugh in some situations. It's one thing to laugh behind closed doors. And it can be another altogether to laugh in a public place. What will people think?
Below, Katie shares a part of the journey she has been on to get to where she is today. And today that is a place that is very much laughter-filled! Was it always this way for her, though? Continue reading, as Katie shares….
The Practice of Saying Ha Ha!
“I will not play tug o' war. I'd rather play hug o' war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.” ~ Shel Silverstein
More than three years ago, I invited my husband to come with me to a laughter class as a date. We had never heard of it. Upon arriving at the class, the leader, Jen, explained how laughter yoga was the practice of laughing for no reason and that it was a body-mind wellness approach. Jen told us that our brain does not know the difference between real laughter and fake laughter, so by just saying, “Ha, Ha, Ha” we feels as good as if we have really been cracking up over a joke or with a good friend.
Immediately, I loved the concept.
But halfway through class, when we began the laughter yoga exercises, I was wide eyed with discomfort. Having always shied away from the stage or doing anything in which I looked “foolish”, I found myself quietly going through the exercises hoping no one would see me. People all around me were having a grand time, some really laughing and some just practicing saying “Ha Ha Ho Ho.” I was still trapped behind a forced smile of awkwardness.
Then, a petite woman came up to me and started doing “humming laughter”. It was if she could read the discomfort in my eyes and was encouraging me to have fun as she hummed exuberantly. Her easy presence made me burst out laughing. She was not caught up in what I thought of her or what anyone else thought. She was caught up in simply having a good time for no reason at all.
I marveled at this freedom. Then, moments later, a man came up to me and shook my hand excitedly as part of another exercise. Only, he did not let go when I tried to and just kept shaking and shaking until I was laughing so hard, I could barely stand up! It was as if he was helping me to shake away any nervousness or self-judgment. Finally, I began to relax into the joy of it all!
By the end of class I was rolling on the floor with everyone else in hysterics over NOTHING! The laughter was real and felt so freeing to just laugh without thinking something was funny, yet at the same time everything felt funny.
I still remember vividly the energetic shift in my body as my husband and I re-entered the cold, winter air that night. It was a buzz that lasted long into the spring. That was the first winter I loved living in a cold climate…I kept laughing to stay warm!
In the years since that class, I have watched time and time again, how laughter frees me up from worrying what I “should” do to what feels right deep within me to do. I find that practicing laughter allows us to connect to ourselves deep within so we no longer put the same emphasis on what others are thinking or saying or doing.
Instead, we have the unique opportunity to live within our hearts in this very moment. And I believe when we are able to do that, we have all that we need to approach each moment of our lives from an open and grounded place.
By bringing more laughter into our lives, even in the challenging times, we are inviting abounding joy to enter our experience. From here, we can celebrate the good that is present so much more easily.
I love looking back to that blustery laughter-filled winter night as a great shift in my life in which I stopped living the life I felt comfortable living and started living the life I knew I deeply wanted and had always dreamt of living.