Mindfulness and Laughter
Life is funny.
Throughout the day, there are plenty of humorous moments that we tend to ignore. We get so caught up in being earnest that we miss opportunities to gain clarity while giggling.
Sure, there are times when it is considered inappropriate to laugh, but if we’re honest, we’ll see that if we’re suppressing a smile it’s a sign that we’re fully present.
Not only that, but these are times when we could most use a little laughter to bring levity to an overly-serious situation. The best business meetings–and funerals–I’ve ever attended included plenty of bust-a-gut moments.
Years ago, during a two-week silent meditation retreat, I got the giggles. Oh, I know, you’re supposed to be *serious* about meditating for five hours straight, but I couldn’t help it.
It all started when I was roused from my peaceful posture by a certain “KLUNK!” from across the room. I opened my eyes to see that one of my retreat buddies had fallen asleep and landed with his head against the wall. Momentarily unnerved, he quickly straightened up, closed his eyes and put on his best meditator’s face.
I, on the other hand, completely lost it.
I managed to stifle the first few giggles, but then they started escaping in little bursts. I tried the ol’ coughing technique, hoping to disguise my snorts as expectoration, but I wasn’t fooling anyone.
Pretty soon, I saw (well, I did have my eyes open) others looking my way. Nobody else was laughing. In fact, nobody else was even smiling. Clearly, I was the only one who had allowed myself to get caught up in that unexpected moment of hilarity.
I was chagrined, and then annoyed, and continued to watch my response to this incident shift over the next few minutes.
Had it been funny? Of course. Were we supposed to be concentrating fully on the moment? Absolutely. Anything else would be attachment to past regrets or worries about the future.
Okay, so we were focusing on watching our thoughts, and this little interruption was not part of what was going on in our heads. But isn’t ignoring what’s happening around us the same kind of thing that gets us into trouble back in the Real World?
We go about our lives, obsessing silently, moving mindlessly, getting things done. We fail to notice the wonder and joy and beauty all around us because we are in full scowl mode about the things in our heads.
Well, I’m all for taking time to laugh. Give me a giggling guru over a dour taskmaster every time. The greatest guides–in business, education, and personal success–are those who encourage us to invite hilarity into our lives whenever it happens to appear.
Open your eyes to the silliness around you, and laugh out loud. It’s good for your heart in every way.