Laughter, Tears, Silence: Expressive Meditations to Calm Your Mind and Open Your Heartby Pragito Dove
Using the principles she teaches, Pragito Dove transformed her fear and grief into joy and inner peace. Her accessible, innovative methods allow you to reap the benefits of meditation in thirty seconds, four minutes, or twenty-four hours, wherever you are and whenever you need a moment of calm. Emphasizing expression, rather than repression, of emotion, these
Using the principles she teaches, Pragito Dove transformed her fear and grief into joy and inner peace. Her accessible, innovative methods allow you to reap the benefits of meditation in thirty seconds, four minutes, or twenty-four hours, wherever you are and whenever you need a moment of calm. Emphasizing expression, rather than repression, of emotion, these dynamic practices can begin with a variety of movements and sounds, or with silence. Meeting practitioners where they are - in sadness, fear, stress, anger, or joy - the techniques can be done in the midst of work, play, and home life, and either alone or with others. Drawing on such traditions as Sufism and Buddhism and such teachers as the twentieth-century mystics Osho and Gurdjieff, Dove's synthesis meets the needs of contemporary life with attention to the full range of human experience and reverence for the peace and joy possible in every moment.
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Laughter, Tears, Silence
Expressive Meditations to Calm Your Mind and Open Your Heart
By Pragito Dove
New World LibraryCopyright © 2010 Pragito Dove
All rights reserved.
I start this book with the topic of laughter and with laughter meditations, because this is how I discovered that meditation can be fun. In my experience the laughter practice is one of the easiest ways to get into meditation. Even if this is the only technique you do, it will transform your life and your world; in fact, this technique can transform the whole world. You can start with a smile or a chuckle, and even if you just do one minute each day, you experience profound benefits. You attract good things, improve your health, lower your stress level, open your heart to more love, and unleash your creative juices. We've all felt it, haven't we — that overwhelming sensation of laughter when each fiber of our being pulsates with joy, bringing on a deep feeling of relaxation? Out of this easiness everything is possible, because instead of a lack of energy, you experience the fullness of energy without tension. The more relaxed you become, the fresher you feel, full of potential for creativity. Laughter is an immensely valuable activity; it is life, love, and light. When real belly laughter happens it comes from your very core. Have you experienced this? From your very center ripples start spreading outward. It is almost like an earthquake! Laughter brings energy from your inner source to your surface. It is a mystery, and it's better to experience it than to hear someone talk about it, isn't it?
Most of us hope for these moments of happy abandon, and we may tell ourselves that they don't happen often enough. The truth is, we don't have to wait to be happy. The concepts and practices I've included here are designed to help us relax, loosen up, and enjoy life. They provide an opportunity for playfulness and a reminder that life does not have to be a constant struggle. Even when we are not feeling happy, these techniques can help energize us and move us forward in difficult times. They help coax to the surface our inner happiness, serving as a vehicle to awaken us to our innate joy.
Happiness is our essential nature. Rather than waiting for events outside us to determine our happiness, we can find deep inside the happiness that is our essential nature. Perhaps we think that we have to be relaxed and calm and that all sorts of conditions need to be there for us to be happy. This is not the case. Happiness can be there for no reason. The more we make a practice of smiling, laughing, and enjoying ourselves for no reason, the more we discover we already have what we are seeking.
Meditation isn't something you have to work at with a straight face. Be sincere about meditation, yes, but not serious, because then you will be forcing yourself to achieve. This only creates more tension. The more fun you have with the various techniques — the more playful you are as you approach them — the more relaxed you are and the more you will want to keep meditating.
In his book Laugh after Laugh: The Healing Power of Humor, Dr. Raymond Moody explains: "Laughter is a good natural tran-quilizer. It can stimulate the brain to produce hormones called cat-echolamines which may then trigger the release of endorphins. Endorphins have been described as a natural valium and foster a sense of relaxation and well being. Catecholamines also enhance blood flow and thus may speed healing, reduce inflammation and stimulate alertness."
Laughter is good for us in every way: physically emotionally spiritually. It offers many benefits:
Laughter stimulates physical healing. If you can laugh when you are sick, you heal faster. If you cannot laugh, sooner or later you will become ill. Laughter brings energy from your inner source to your surface.
Laughter enhances our creativity. I have noticed, after numerous episodes of laughter, that I become flooded with creative energy. As old conditioning is released, the unconscious opens and insights come. The relaxation of body and mind provides a gateway for inner wisdom to be expressed.
Laughter is rejuvenating and regenerating. When we laugh and smile we loosen up and generally feel better. The face collects stress, and when we laugh we release a tremendous amount of tension, giving us a more youthful appearance. Laughing reminds us to have fun. Today, do something just for the sheer fun of it.
Laughter is sexy. Laughter helps attract people who are good for us and is very beneficial for anyone who is sexually blocked. It releases inhibitions and opens us up, bringing us directly in touch with our life force energy. Many people have reported improved sexual responsiveness after doing the laughter meditations.
Laughter is good for relationships. Humor draws people together. Many couples who do the Laughter (p. 9) and the Osho Mystic Rose (p. 50) meditations tell me that they find a tremendous improvement in their relating. They discover another side of each other, the playful, humorous side, which brings relief to the more serious parts of life concerned with work, money, housework, the kids, and so on. Remember the old adage "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"? Well, it doesn't do much for Jill either!
Laughter opens the heart. Laughter creates an opening to the love, compassion, courage, trust, and intuitive wisdom that vibrate within you.
Laughter activates the Law of Attraction. Laughter fills us with warm, positive vibrations that activate the feeling state we need to attract good things to us.
Laughter gives us a glimpse of freedom from the mind. For those moments when you are totally laughing, you are free of the mind. You are brought from worry to humor, from tension to relaxation, from fear to trust, from timidity to courage. In other words, you move from the mind to the heart. You cannot think and laugh at the same time. In those seconds when you are out of the mind, you are in meditation. In those seconds the mind is not and you are.
You can even laugh your way to enlightenment. Laughter serves as a bridge to our inner silence. It is an ordinary experience that can give you an extraordinary experience, a glimpse of no-mind. It can be used as a preparation for meditation.
There is hope. There are solutions to depression, fear, and pain. We can experience our emotions in a safe, meditative context, so that we can be refreshed and renewed.
In this part I've included many techniques that helped me transform my anger, pain, and fear into love, creativity, and joy. The same can happen for you. You can do these meditations alone or with friends. Just do them. One minute a day is a good start.
Be kind and gentle with yourself. If you don't feel like laughing, practice smiling more often, read some joke books, or watch some comedies. As you do, what is naturally inside will begin to surface more and more easily. And remember, if you are going through a difficult time, you can also give an equal amount of time to allowing your sadness to be there. It is the balanced awareness and expression of both these energies that will bring you to a deeper harmony and peace within yourself.
THE HEALING POWER OF LAUGHTER
* * *
In my twenty-plus years of teaching a wide range of meditation techniques, the laughter meditation stands out as the most popular. I have never given a presentation in which nobody laughed or wanted to laugh. Even if they had never heard of this technique before, they were willing to jump in, after a short explanation, and just start laughing. Usually, just talking about laughter and the laughter meditation seems to open people up, and many start smiling and laughing before we have even started. Have you experienced that? For example, when someone asks if you've heard a certain joke, do you immediately feel laughter start to percolate in anticipation of the joke and exploding at the punch line? One of my students, Gisele, healed her fear of public speaking when she had to give a talk about the Laughter meditation. She kept laughing out of anxiety and ended up sharing the meditation in an unexpected way. Her audience couldn't stop laughing either, and all Gisele's problems, fears, and tensions dissolved as everyone united in spontaneous laughter. In her innocence, Gisele took everyone beyond the mind and straight into the heart of laughter itself. She won everyone over, because it is just so human, isn't it, to laugh when we are nervous? We have all experienced wanting to laugh inappropriately in church or on solemn occasions, and stuffing it down seems to make things even funnier. The Laughter meditation provides an appropriate way to release our tensions and just to laugh for the sake of laughing. Here is a short meditation technique to illustrate the many dimensions of us that laughter can reach.
MEDITATION: Let Go of Ego
This technique helps you to drop deeper into your heart, deeper into trusting your inner wisdom. Sometimes failure happens to teach us to let go of ego and to move into a more authentic place in ourselves.
Notice if you feel bad because your ego has been crushed. This is a good thing. Have a good laugh. Do this whenever you feel your ego burning. Or maybe you would rather cry. Either way, expressing yourself this way will help take you beyond your ego.
Once I was invited to give a lunchtime presentation to employees of a large corporation in Northern California. In anticipation of the event, the director had hooked us up via video satellite to two branches of the company in Southern California. Everyone, men and women alike, was wearing a business suit, and it looked like it was going to be a serious meeting. But as we started the Laughter meditation (see description on p. 9), we were amazed at the volume of laughter that poured forth. One woman actually fell off her chair, she was laughing so much, and that made her, and everyone else, laugh even more. Afterward, the participants said they liked the idea of laughing with their colleagues, whom they could see on the screens. They all felt united, and they enjoyed this way of being in touch with one another.
I have noticed that as we do the Laughter meditation with others, any mask we are wearing gets stripped away. We are simply all human beings, laughing together. Boundaries dissolve between teacher and student, parent and child, boss and employee, and any other categories that the mind creates to judge people as "superior" or "inferior."
The Laughter meditation is powerful in its simple ability to transform and heal our relationships with ourselves and with others. It is good for us in every way: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Do it now. Start with smiling more, for no particular reason, just because! Laugh at every opportunity that presents itself; look for opportunities to laugh.
Below you will find a more detailed description of the Laughter meditation technique. However, remember that you can laugh anywhere, anytime, for any or for no reason at all. If you are in a situation where you cannot follow the instructions below exactly, it doesn't matter. The most important thing is that you bring more laughter, smiles, humor, joy, and lightness into your life. The technique described below is particularly good to do in a group, and by a group I mean at least two people. If you want to do this technique on your own, here are a few tips for you:
Start laughing, if you can, first thing in the morning when you get up, and last thing at night when you go to bed. This practice transforms the quality of your day. It also transforms the quality of your sleep. Your sleep is deeper, and you awaken more refreshed and relaxed. Laugh for no reason, at the ridiculousness of your life, of your day, rushing from here to there. It creates a domino effect — laughter leads to more laughter. Start and finish your day with laughter, and watch as you become more easygoing, more sincere, more creative, more youthful, more compassionate, more intuitive, more authentic, and more expansive.
Remember that at the beginning laughing in this way takes some effort, but after a little while it starts to happen naturally. Your body gets used to it and even starts to expect it.
Do it in the shower, while driving your car, while stuck in traffic. "Ha! Ha! Ha!" Even to say those words out loud starts to transform your mood.
EXPRESSIVE MEDITATION: Laughter
STAGE ONE: LAUGHTER
Raise both arms in the air, and shout "yahoo" several times. Then burst into laughter for absolutely no reason. Just start laughing. At the beginning it may seem weird, and you may have to force it a little, saying, "Ha, ha, ha" or "Ho, ho, ho" to get the energy of the laughter moving. You might want to use the laughter track of my Laughter and Tears CD to help you get started.
Soon spontaneous laughter arises. Try it for thirty seconds, for one or two minutes, or for three or five minutes. Just laugh for no reason at all. Laugh for the sake of laughing.
It can be helpful to have some pillows to throw around and play with, depending on your situation. The idea is to become a child again and to experience the natural spontaneity and joy of life that we were all born with. That spontaneity and joy are still there; they've just been buried under all the to-do lists and the seriousness that we all learn comes with adulthood. But they don't have to be. We can reclaim our natural joy and playfulness, and then we become more productive, creative, and fun-loving adults.
A great way to generate more laughter is to speak in gibberish. Do not, however, use English or any other language that you understand. If you don't understand Italian, you can speak in Italian. By that I mean speak in gibberish with an Italian accent, and use your hands a lot to gesture. You can speak in Chinese or any kind of language, just as long as you don't understand it. You can make all kinds of sounds, and even repeat "yahoo" from time to time to reenergize yourself. It is your responsibility to keep yourself laughing. You don't have to be a stand-up comedian or help other people laugh, unless it is in a playful way that is also fun for you. The focus is on you and on keeping yourself laughing, whether you are alone or interacting with others.
For a more detailed description of doing the Laughter meditation in a group, see the Osho Mystic Rose meditation (p. 50).
STAGE TWO: SIT OR LIE DOWN IN SILENCE
The first thing to remember is not to get serious. Just because you are going to sit in silence with your eyes closed doesn't mean that you have to be serious. Sincere, yes, but not serious! Sit down, or lie down, if you prefer, and close your eyes. You might find, and many people do, that gales of laughter are still bubbling up from inside you.
That's okay. You can sit with eyes closed and a big smile on your face and allow the energy of the laughter to keep on coming, if it wants to. Don't force it to arise, and don't repress it. Simply allow the energy to naturally express itself, as laughter, as smiles, or as silence. The idea here is to experience the laughter from the inside. This is something we are not used to doing, since laughter is an extroverted activity, focused on what is outside ourselves. In this second stage we take the focus within to experience the energy of the laughter, and/or the effects of the laughter from stage one. After a while the laughter naturally comes to an end, and you feel yourself dropping down into a place of warm silence, stillness, and joy. Experience this feeling as totally as you can, because this is how, over time, you can use the energy of the laughter to take you deeper inside yourself to your center of wisdom, clarity, and love. This technique is one of the simplest and easiest ways to come home to yourself and to find that place of divine abiding where no person or situation can disturb you.
Excerpted from Laughter, Tears, Silence by Pragito Dove. Copyright © 2010 Pragito Dove. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Pragito Dove is the author of Lunchtime Enlightenment and the president of Discover Meditation Training, Inc. She trained extensively as a meditation master and spiritual teacher at the Osho Multiversity in Pune, India. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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