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Archive for July, 2011

How to Laugh Well

Here is an excerpt on how to laugh (really laugh) from my upcoming book “Celebrate Your Emotions: A Guide to Eight Incredibly Transforming Feelings”

Physical Exercise

Purpose: To help you physically link agony and ecstasy

into laughter.

Step #l: Practice full-bodied laughter regardless of whether something seems funny. • Rock gently back and forth between backward circular arching of your spine and forward circular arching of your spine. • Breathe in and out of your loosely opened, smiling mouth. • In your backward arch stretch your chin as far upward as comfortable.

• In your forward arch stretch through the top of your head as if you are a giraffe. • Say “ha-hah-ha-hah-ha-hah” as you rock and stretch. • Breathe as deeply as possible, so your belly “jiggles like a bowl full of jelly” (or at least somewhat deeply and loosely).

Step #2: When you laugh, notice your mixed emotions. Keeping your teeth or lips together in laughter indicates tension or anger. • Keeping your head erect instead of tilting back and upward while laughing indicates discomfort or vigilance. • Hunching up your shoulders as you laugh suggests the presence of shame. • Slouching your shoulders and dropping your chin on your chest indicates helplessness.

Step #3: Separate your laughter from the other emotions it’s mixed with. • Throw your head back to take a deep breath as you prepare to let loose in pure laughter. • Double over as you exhale in full-bodied laughter. • Stick your tongue out or think “yuck” to tell yourself to “dump” the connection that causes you to express some other emotion mixed in with laughter.

• Express the mixed-in emotion(s). • Again rock back and forth in laughter. Notice whether your expression is more in the direction of free, full laughter. • Wonder what the mixed-in emotion was about—the tension, vigilance, shame, helplessness, etc.—and how it became entangled with laughter.

Step #4: Practice “inviting” the full spectrum of liveliness into your expression. • Yawn in pain. • Jump and grin for joy. • Throw your head back and laugh. Each day expect to experience pain, joy, and hearty laughter. As one spiritual master said, “If I have not cried and laughed every day, I have not truly lived every day.”

Step #5: Yet another step?! Yes…it takes a lot of work to get to full, clear, laughter. So watch to see when…  “Some people laugh through their noses;  Some people laugh through their teeth goodness sakes, hissing and fizzing like snakes; • Some laugh too fast; • Some only blast;• [Some] squeak as the squeakelers do; • [Some] let go with a ho-ho-ho-ho…  or a ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha too” [“I Love to Laugh” from “Mary Poppins”, lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman]

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“Laugh Well, Live Well”

“A good laugh may be the next-best thing to a workout…. …laughter boosts the immune system, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, and reduces stress.” Right. Without laughter thereisonly madness.  [and] “Shifts in appetite hormones following a case of the giggles resemble the effects of a moderate session at the gym,” according to the result of psychoneuroimmunologist Lee Berk and team from Loma Linda University, California. “Berkisnow studying whether laughter can also reduce inflammation associated with many illnesses, including cancer and heart disease.” I would predict yes: without the inflammatory action of madness…the stress of life…there less is need for laughter. The sense of it might be that the harmfully inflammatory (exploding) action of madness (whether in hostility or stress) is relieved beautifully by the flowing upward gushing (also explosive) action of laughter. [quotes Thanks to Amber Angelle, Discover Magazine, October 2010]

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