Monday, October 22, 2007

Laugh it out!! (Nithya Yoga Series - 5)

2 days ago, I was having dinner with my friend and he said to me 'I don't know why, but I am feeling irritated for no reason nowadays. I know you will tell me to drop the irritation with awareness, but the problem here is I don't even know what's causing the irritation. So, I am trying my best to stop the irritation, but nothing is working'. That led us to a fruitful discussion on one of the things we do in Nithya Yoga - silent belly laughter. I will not be discussing the technique here but talking of the essence of it.

Before we get into it, let us analyse the case above. Firstly, my friend, being a meditator himself, had the awareness of the fact that there is irritation, which is very good in itself. If we don't even know what's controlling us, then we are literally a slave to a stranger. Now, putting in awareness does not mean resisting it or expecting the irritation to drop. It means 'just witnessing' the irritation in a relaxed manner, without judging it or without fighting it.

The problem here is that my friend took the irritation too seriously. Why is this wrong? Because when we take it seriously and start fighting with it, we have already given it power. Swamiji gives a beautiful analogy of how we give power to all our engraved memories controlling us - be it our fear, greed, guilt etc:

In Ramayana (Indian epic) there is character called Vaali. His specialty was that when anybody went to fight with him, half of the energy of the opponent would be sucked up by Vaali. Since Vaali already had some power of his own, he would invariably land up stronger than the opponent. Smart eh?

If we are smarter, we would never fight Vaali. But unfortunately, this is exactly what we do with our problems. We take them too seriously. Every time we think 'Oh this is troubling me', we are indeed allowing that to trouble us. So, what is the alternative you may ask.

Laughter! :)

This may sound absurd, but mind you, it's a very very powerful technique. An example: if our boss yells at us, we have a choice whether to get upset about it and ruin the rest of the day... or to just let go with a laughter. Who gains at the end of it? When I say laughter, it does not necessarily mean laughing loudly, it could just be a silent one. Think about it, it's your day that is precious.

Genuine laughter does two things: Firstly when you laugh from deep within, you do not think. And when the mind drops, you automatically enter a meditative state. Many of the meditation programs offered at Dhyanapeetam have long laughter sessions as meditations. 42 mins of belly laughter can transport you into a space you have never experienced, bringing with it a deep sense of calmness and joy.

Secondly, and more importantly, the very attitude with which you look at the problem changes. Really, nothing in life is worth taking too seriously. Just laugh at all your problems, and at yourself. Just don't even give the problem the status of a "problem" inside. If you do that, then you have already crowned the problem as "Vaali" and you know what happens next if you do that. When you laugh at it, you are not giving the problem any space inside. When you fight it, you have let it come in.

There are many Zen Buddhist monks who have gotten enlightened by just laughing! We don't have even one good reason to take life so seriously. So let's just laugh it out :)

Here is Swamiji's discourse on Laughter is Medicine. Enjoy!

2 comments: said...

HA HA HA ... thats the sound from a one hand clap!

Anonymous said...

Dear Ma Arpana,
Can you tell me where I can find the laughter technique that you have mentioned in this blog entry. Thank you Nithyanandham !