The past three months have been some of the most challenging months of my short 36 years. My challenges pale in comparison to many on this planet, but still, they are my own and I have the right and responsibility to sit with these challenges and learn from them the best way I know how.
Sometimes I just do this:
Okay, I admit it, I always ask for counsel from my closest friends who I know will tell me areas I need to explore and improve upon, this way I don’t become disillusioned about how everything is everyone else’s fault and responsibility. It also helps that they don't charge me anything and they also give out free hugs.
Which brings me to this:
Recently I had a conversation with someone that literally made me want to throw up, but given I was sitting in my newly cleaned car I opted to have a nervous breakdown instead. This option was less messy, especially since I was not wearing make-up that day or else I might have opted to get out of my car and just run screaming, sweaty, but make-up still intact.
As a yoga teacher I vow only to teach what I know and what I know changes from day to day. I had to plan my class theme for the week after this happened. I asked one trusted friend, ”What should I do? I can’t teach pulling the covers up over our heads for and hour and fifteen minutes. Another friend said, ”Just give yourself this day to grieve, nothing more.” I personally thought, in my mind, she was nuts, as I am the wallowing type (I know, yuck right?). Finally, another friend said,” I am teaching laughter this week.” I said, “I am so stealing that idea.” She said, ”Go ahead!” So, collectively my friends came to my rescue and in doing so gave me a wonderful idea for one of my favorite class themes ever.
What I learned was that I CAN make a choice. Instead of one full day of grieving, I gave myself around 8 hours. I started looking for things that made me laugh and in doing so changed my view. I also cleared the view for what had transpired and gained perseverance from it and in such a joyful way to boot. I never thought I could turn myself around like that. Laughter and Smiles became my theme and the asana of the week became Handstand because seriously, who can practice Donkey Kicking up into Handstand without a smile? My pranayama became the Smiling Breath. There is nothing like looking over a classroom where everyone is smiling, including yourself, when less than 24 hours before you wanted to ram your head into some drywall.
A Few Good Quotes:
Even if there is nothing to laugh about, laugh on credit. ~Author Unknown
When people are laughing, they're generally not killing each other. ~Alan Alda
Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward. ~Kurt Vonnegut
A laugh is a smile that bursts. ~Mary H. Waldrip
A smile costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he cannot get along without it and none is so poor that he cannot be made rich by it. Yet a smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired to give you a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has no more to give.
-- Author Unknown
Benefits of Laughter:
It takes seventeen muscles to smile and forty-three to frown.
-- Author Unknown
Laughter Decreases "Stress" Hormones
The results of the study also supported research indicating a general decrease in stress hormones that constrict blood vessels and suppress immune activity. These were shown to decrease in the study group exposed to humor.
For example, levels of epinephrine were lower in the group both in anticipation of humor and after exposure to humor. Epinephrine levels remained down throughout the experiment.
In addition, dopamine levels (as measured by dopac) were also decreased. Dopamine is involved in the "fight or flight response" and is associated with elevated blood pressure.
Laughing is aerobic, providing a workout for the diaphragm and increasing the body's ability to use oxygen.
Laughter brings in positive emotions that can enhance – not replace -- conventional treatments. Hence it is another tool available to help fight the disease.
Experts believe that, when used as an adjunct to conventional care, laughter can reduce pain and aid the healing process. For one thing, laughter offers a powerful distraction from pain.
In a study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing, patients were told one-liners after surgery and before painful medication was administered. Those exposed to humor perceived less pain when compared to patients who didn't get a dose of humor as part of their therapy.
Perhaps, the biggest benefit of laughter is that it is free and has no known negative side effects.
Muscle Relaxation - Belly laugh results in muscle relaxation. While you laugh, the muscles that do not participate in the belly laugh, relaxes. After you finish laughing those muscles involved in the laughter start to relax. So, the action takes place in two stages.
Reduction of Stress Hormones - Laughter reduces at least four of neuroendocrine hormones associated with stress response. These are epinephrine, cortisol, dopac, and growth hormone.
Immune System Enhancement - Clinical studies have shown that humor strengthens the immune system.
Pain Reduction - Humor allows a person to "forget" about pains such as aches, arthritis, etc.
Cardiac Exercise - A belly laugh is equivalent to "an internal jogging." Laughter can provide good cardiac conditioning especially for those who are unable to perform physical exercises.
Blood Pressure - Women seem to benefit more than men in preventing hypertension.
Respiration - Frequent belly laughter empties your lungs of more air than it takes in resulting in a cleansing effect - similar to deep breathing. Especially beneficial for patent's who are suffering from emphysema and other respiratory ailments.
So..laugh on ya'll!