Can you believe it? Laughter can be a spiritual practice. We tend to take anything spiritual with such seriousness that we lose our sense of humor. Humor is spiritual. Think of the laughing Buddhas in the East, and I can easily imagine that Jesus was a very charming man with a great sense of humor too. He would have had to have had to laugh at life to go through the betrayals and trials he experienced without becoming bitter and angry. Think of the benefits of laughter. It releases tensions, raises endorphin levels and a good deep belly laugh is a way to stop taking one’s self and one’s ideas so seriously.
I love the story of the laughing wise men. The three men traveled the towns and villages teaching people through laughter. They spent endless hours laughing thorough rain and sun, through cold and heat and through periods with no food and periods of bounty. One day one of the men died. He had instructed his friends to leave his coats intact and when they put him on the funeral pyre, the sparks ignited firecrackers he’d kept in his pockets to give his friends one last laugh on his behalf. Then the laughter teaching began again.
When we get started on a spiritual journey it can turn quickly into a pious, self-important way to impose ideals and values on others. When the focus begins to turn outward rather than inward, then we’re heading in a wrong direction down a dead-end street. Lighten up today. Take a break from self-possessed seriousness, look in the mirror and laugh. Self-deprecation is a wonderful way to ease a tense situation and make friends. In men its an irresistible quality that women adore. Relax. Take a deep breath and put on a red clown nose if you have one or go out and buy one. Laugh at yourself and enjoy the journey with levity.
Bio: Debra Moffitt is author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2011). She is devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. Debra leads workshops on spiritual practices at the Sophia Institute and other venues in the U.S. and Europe. Her mind/body/spirit articles, essays and stories appear in publications around the world and were broadcast by BBC World Services Radio. Find out more at: http://awakeintheworld.com and http://www.debramoffitt.com.