Last night, I was writing my weekly blog post when I realized how sad I was feeling. I was writing about solemn topics, which is perfectly acceptable, but as the midnight hour approached, the blog post was starting to weigh on me and obnubilated my mood. I decided to switch gears and started to write about something entirely different. By the time I finished the new blog post, I had awakened my funny bone. In one way this was a positive thing; on the other hand, I was a bit annoyed that I was wide awake in the wee hours of the morning. 😂
What inspired the complete turnaround was that earlier in the day, I had read something I had no awareness of: laughter is a way of being mindful; you can even say that it’s a form of meditation. I hadn’t thought of laughter as a form of meditation before, but it makes sense. I mean, if we examine mindfulness: it is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. When we laugh, we are fully present to the moment. We are not thinking about the past or the future. We are simply enjoying the moment.
Of course, who doesn’t know that laughter is a powerful thing? When we laugh, our bodies release endorphins, which have mood-boosting and pain-relieving effects. Medical studies show that laughter can also help to improve our immune system and cardiovascular health.
The “funny” thing was, the same day that I read about laughter was when an appliance repair person was scheduled to fix our washer. And, of all people, at all times, he turned out to be a pop-in comedian. Oh, that’s right, he wasn’t a comedian, he had “a PhD from Vermont: a Paper Hanging Degree.” 😂
As he was fixing the washing machine, he painted a hysterical picture, sprinkled with a whimsical accent, that conveyed his recent trip to Italy where he drove over 1,500 miles from the southern to northern part of the country. How vividly I saw him sitting cross legged, with a tall, lanky Al Pacino stature, sipping wine in the same chair that he sat in while playing the starring role of The Godfather.
I mean, man, did I have a lot of afternoon mindfulness. I even recalled Tuscany, one of my bucket list places on a list I had nearly forgotten. Suddenly, I was inspired and as if ready to climb the Apennine Mountains, I could taste its fresh legumes, pasta and cheese (I no longer eat meat). I felt the beaming smiles of its friendly people. Inhaling its burst of sweet oxygen made me feel hopeful and optimistic. I realized that I could live with the limp of PTSD, and a number of other limitations, but still inch my way forward – or if need be, press the “restart” button.
Through all my thoughts and feelings, toppling over with humor, I even learned how to load the washing machine properly so it (hopefully) wouldn’t break down again.
Anyway, I started to think more and more about laughter and our comedian-appliance guy, and realized how we connected through the funny side of life. (Although I wouldn’t want his mom in Portugal to hear how he described her as having a big, square wine barrel body, a heavy mustache crowning her lips and nylon stockings that she tied in knots at her knees! 😂)
I started thinking that if laughter could connect people, then it could be a way to connect to something much bigger – bigger than ourselves. Whether we call it a higher power, God, or “All There Is,” there is something bigger than ourselves, such as the Apennine Mountains, that we are all connected to. And when we laugh, I believe we are acknowledging that connection. We begin to open up to the joy and wonder of life while expressing our gratitude for all that we have.
Anyway, not to sound too esoteric, leave it to the appliance guy to reinforce that the best medicine – and meditation – really is laughter. After a roller coaster of a weekend, it took his humor to level me. Switch things around and jump start a blog I had not planned on writing.
There is no doubt that laughter can help us find hope in the midst of despair. In this way, laughter can act like a tip-top washing machine, cleansing our saddened hearts and minds with its healing power.