Laughter is a seriously effective resource. Back in the early 70’s Osho introduced the Laughter Meditation. Since then much has been written on the subject….
Make laughter your prayer. Laugh more. Nothing releases your blocked energies as does laughter. Nothing makes you innocent as does laughter. Nothing makes you childlike as does laughter.(Osho Yoga: The Alpha & Omega Volume 6)
Norman Cousins – American political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate – popularised the benefits of laughter in connection with pain relief.
Diagnosed with both heart disease and ankylosing spondylitis, in constant pain and given little chance of surviving, he discovered that watching comedies, such as those of the Marx Brothers was therapeutic. He wrote: ‘I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anaesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep. When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval.’ (1)
Paul McGhee is known worldwide for his research on humour, a subject on which he has written 15 books. President of ‘The Laughter Remedy’ in Wilmington, Delaware, USA, he works full time as a professional speaker.
He notes that over 30 studies have now obtained support for Cousins’ initial observation indicating that humour and laughter reduce pain. Supporting evidence has been obtained in both experimental settings (where pain is actually induced initially, followed by a determination of humour’s ability to reduce that pain) and among individuals suffering from chronic pain from a broad range of conditions. So the claim about humour and health is well established. (2)
Laughter brings strength. Now, even medical science says that laughter is one of the most deep-going medicines nature has provided man with. If you can laugh when you are ill you will get your health back sooner. If you cannot laugh, even if you are healthy, sooner or later you will lose your health and you will become ill.
Laughter brings some energy from your inner source to your surface. Energy starts flowing, follows laughter like a shadow. Have you watched it? When you really laugh, for those few moments you are in a deep meditative state. Thinking stops. It is impossible to laugh and think together. They are diametrically opposite: either you can laugh or you can think. If you really laugh, thinking stops. If you are still thinking, laughter will be just so-so; it will be just so-so, lagging behind. It will be a crippled laughter.
When you really laugh, suddenly mind disappears. And the whole Zen methodology is how to get into no-mind – laughter is one of the beautiful doors to get to it. As far as I know, dancing and laughter are the best, natural, easily approachable doors. (2)
Author Sondra Kornblatt has also explored the subject of gelotology (Yes! apparently there’s a seriously official term for the ‘field’ of laughter).
If that made you laugh your blood pressure, along with stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, was lowered; there was an increase in your blood flow and the oxygenation of your blood as there was in the response of tumour- and disease-killing cells such as Gamma-interferon and T-cells. And, if you really got into it, your diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg, and back muscles got a bit of a workout.
And that all in less than half a second! Within that time, ‘after exposure to something funny, an electrical wave moves through the higher brain functions of the cerebral cortex. The left hemisphere analyses the words and structures of the joke; the right hemisphere “gets” the joke; the visual sensory area of the occipital lobe creates images; the limbic (emotional) system makes you happier; and the motor sections make you smile or laugh.’ (3)
In a better world, in a more civilized world, in a really civilized world, laughter will be accepted as natural. Only when a person is sad will we hospitalize him. Sadness is illness, laughter is health. So because you have not been allowed to laugh, any small excuse…. Jokes are excuses to laugh; you can laugh without being called mad. You can say, “Because of the joke….
And a joke has a mechanism: it helps you uncoil. The whole mechanism of a joke is very complex; in a way simple-looking, deep down very complex. A joke is not a joke…it is a difficult phenomenon. In a few words, in a few lines, it can create such a change in the whole climate. (4)
Not many months away from his death neuro-psychiatrist Dr Servan-Schreiber recalls ‘The first time I had cancer, one of the few people who knew of my diagnosis happened to see me in the street, laughing with my brother. He shot me with a glaring look that seemed to say, “How dare he laugh when he’s just learned he has brain cancer?”…. I thought if I have to stop laughing just because I have cancer, then I’m dead already.
‘I understood that you should never, absolutely never, let go of the most precious faculty of all, which is the ability to laugh with all your heart. Even when you’re suffering from a fatal illness there are still plenty of reasons to laugh, and I strongly recommend that as they fly past you, you reach out and grasp every one you can.’ (5)
Sources and Recommended Reading/Viewing
Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing Norman Cousins (W.W. Norton & Company)
A Sudden Clash of Thunder Osho (Osho International Foundation)
A Better Brain at Any Age: The Holistic Way to Improve Your Memory, Reduce Stress, and Sharpen Your Wits Sondra Komblatt (Conari Press, 2009)
The Tantra Experience Osho
Not the Last Goodbye: on life, death, healing, & cancer David Servan-Schreiber (Viking)
Humour: The Lighter Path to Resilience and Health Paul McGhee (Author House)
Life, Love, Laughter: Celebrating your existence Osho (St. Martins Press)
Instant review: Osho’s inspiring and loving stories go far beyond the usual chicken-soup fare. Life, Love, Laughter establishes a new genre of reflective and inspirational text stripped of all platitudes and clichés, and absolutely in tune with the realities of the 21st century. In this artful work, Osho mixes entertainment and inspiration, ancient Zen stories and contemporary jokes to help us to find love, laughter, and ultimately, happiness.
Life, Love, Laughter includes an original talk by Osho on DVD. This visual component enables the reader to experience the direct wisdom and humour of Osho straight from the source. Buy on Amazon
For some instant laughter- watch this!