Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Spirituality and Humor: Finding Laughter in Your Life

I'm not sure what I'm doing, but it sure looks ridiculous.
Awhile ago, I wrote an allegory called, "Awakening the Fool." It was a fun piece to write. As always, I like writing stories, and it's a nice switch up from the way I usually write these blogs. Along those lines, this blog is a switch in tone to honor the lighter side of life. Many of the topics that I write about are very serious, and that's not a bad thing. But spirituality is in all things, and that includes humor. Life is a funny, wild, and ridiculous adventure as much as it is serious, deep, or tragic at times. So we all learn the importance of laughing and enjoying the silliness that we create and that is presented to us.

Learning to Laugh at Ourselves
If you can't learn to laugh at yourselves, you're going to have a very long and dreary life. I, for one, am quite ridiculous (case in point, look at the above picture). Many of the people who know me best know how silly and stupid I can be. I consider it one of my defining traits, although I certainly don't need any definitions to be me. :) Consider how often you make mistakes or have mishaps, and use those moments to laugh at yourself. Whoops, I just ran my shin into my bed this morning. Haha. Oh well. Time to get ice for it.

And it's not that you're just laughing at pain. You're learning to laugh at everything. Laugh at the good things, and laugh at the bad things. I will say that humor does change during awakening. A lot of the things that really were about suffering won't be funny anymore. I think there's quite a bit of suffering that is portrayed as funny in sitcoms these days. There are more than a few shows that I've seen on and off that seem simply cruel and not funny, such as how wives berate husbands or men pull vicious pranks on each other. Those types of things are coming from the space of pain, and that kind of dark and sarcastic humor definitely loses its humorousness.

Finding Others to Laugh With
If you want a simple and fun spiritual practice for humor, just find a couple of friends and have a laughing club. You don't even have to have an object to cause the laughter. Just start laughing. People always say that laughter is infectious, and really, it's kinda hard not to start laughing if a bunch of people are laughing in the room. However, it is interesting what darkness gets called out of someone who really resists laughing. This kind of good-natured energy can draw out a lot of suffering and reveal those people who want to persist in living in a low vibration. It can show you a lot about someone.

But for the purpose of this post, just focus on laughing. Enjoy it. Feel it fully. Feel the tingly-ness of it in your body. What does this feel like? Why does it feel so good? Oh who cares why it feels so good... ;p

Bringing More Humor Into Your Life
This really is more than just "thinking positively," which is a phrase I hear way too much. "Thinking positively" is just a different type of rose-colored glasses for many people who are resisting seeing the fullness of reality. With humor, we are enacting happiness. We are embodying happiness. We are giving ourselves a chance to feel it in the heart, body, and mind. That's just a wonderfully easy way to embody spirit and the joy of living. Isn't it a beautiful thing? You can make it part of your meditation if you like. You could have a laughing meditation. See how you feel if you laugh for 5 minutes and then meditate for 25 minutes. See what it brings up. How does this make you feel?

And along with laughter, it is important to bring more people who make you feel good into your life. One of my students posted in our group about paying attention to how she feels in different situations. This is a wonderful practice. See who makes you laugh. See who just generally feels good to be around. It won't always be the people that you think it should be. And while I've written about getting comfortable with discomfort on the spiritual path and I don't want you to run away from anyone who makes you uneasy initially, there is still a lot to be said for tuning in to people who generally feel good to be around. Ultimately, this is where we land, although in life there's often a transitional time period where many of you will have to get used to people who do feel good because you've been treated so badly by yourself and others that this sensation initially feels uncomfortable and foreign.

Letting Go of the Seriousness
If life does get too serious or your spiritual practice gets too serious, then pause to let it go. Watch a funny movie. Find a joke online. Call one of your friends who has a good sense of humor. Or just laugh like I suggested earlier. There are so many reasons to let go of being serious. There are so many reasons to roll down a grassy hill or have a burping contest. Seriousness is often an ego game where your ego is trying to get respect and living in a little, tiny box that can't even contain a fraction of your fullness. In those regards, many people will find their way to awakening through humor because the seriousness of life will have finished teaching them all that it can. There will be nothing left to be serious about. You'll start to realize that it's all a big joke. And this may sound glib in the face of atrocities and rapes that go on in the world, but ultimately, the cosmic joke is that we've made up everything. Most of these difficulties in this world are our creation, and we can uncreate them at any time as a collective group. In our own lives, we feel this more personally. We see how we've gotten completely caught up and serious about our jobs, finding romance, making a partnership work, getting things, and so forth.

Then you have to laugh. In that laughter, you are letting go because it's all just so ridiculous, and you're totally ridiculous. You're the cause of your difficulties, and just like the clown who can't fit into the ridiculously tiny car, you can now laugh and realize that you could have bought a new car or ridden a bike at any time.

Moving Beyond the Cosmic Joke: Humor Sets You Free
For some of you, you will be like the divine fool that I mentioned in my allegory above. You will bring humor out, and you will show others the jokes that we play on ourselves. It is a beautiful path and a beautiful life's work. For most of you, you will simply enjoy the humor of your life. You'll enjoy the joke when you get sprayed by water on the road by a passing car. It's like, "Oh, I get it, God, you prankster." And you'll go home and change your pants instead of turning it into an unending story about how life has specifically come to ruin your designer wardrobe.

As I said, you will see life for what it is, but you won't be inappropriate in trying to find humor in difficult situations and whatnot. Laughter and humor is a tool like meditation, journaling, and everything else. There are times to use it, and then there are times to not use it. But start with yourself. Look at all the things you worry about, and laugh. And laugh some more. And keep laughing until you can see them again from a different angle. You may be surprised at what they look like when you no longer take it all quite so seriously.
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