One memorable evening laughter cured, at least momentarily, the grief of a sad foursome as we shared dinner and a beloved friend’s terminal diagnosis. We had a new and profound appreciation for the old expression that “laughter is the best medicine.” It was as if our merry sounds massaged aching hearts and somehow restored a most welcome perspective. We were amazed.
Later that night I was reminded of my college students’ fascination with the practice of laughing meditation, a form of meditation fast-growing in popularity in this country. Each week in our Studies in Eastern Thinking class two students guided the rest of us in their regular, disciplined practice of focused laughter. How refreshing to participate as increasing laughter disperses emotional and physical stress. Inhibitions, hang-ups, and self-absorption succumb to humor. It's contagious, fortunately. With sharpening focus on the feel and sound of a laugh, mental clarity takes gentle hold. It’s as if the body laughs on its own and resets its equilibrium. Many students who resolve to meditate through laughing twice a day report what a valuable addition to their lives these minutes become, how they look forward to “just laughing, nothing else, laughing and breathing.”