In ancient Greece, the simple act of laughing marked the beginning of each person’s spiritual journey. It was believed that, through laughing, the true, inner self became animated.
In ancient China it was reported that laughing was often one’s most appropriate response to truth. “If one did not laugh, it would not be the Tao”. It was also thought that laughter was the “grandmother of hope”, and hope is one of the most important qualities that humanity needs to maintain in difficult times.
Monks have used laughter to clear their minds so that they could meditate, and Indian sages to help people to open to the deeper aspects of their being. Laughter can be a doorway to finding the inner peace that is always within oneself but often just out of reach, not sought.
At another level – within each of us is an Inner Child that still exists but rarely gets to be heard. In our busy lives the inner child strives to be listened to. We become adults, taking on many patterns of thinking about how we ‘should’ be and lose contact with the freedom of spirit that was with us in childhood.
Laughing allows us to relax and to let go of some of the many boundaries we have placed upon ourselves in our negotiating with the world. In laughter we momentarily allow the inner child to ‘be’ and to play and to experience being-ness again.
In play we have the opportunity to experience our wholeness – to go beyond imposed restrictions and logical beliefs. For that moment of laughing freely, we are free. For a moment we might become one with our inner child and give expression to its gifts, in our otherwise regimented lives.
In play we become like children – we find within us that which needs release, and once again we connect with the spirit of play and the ease of being natural.
When we stop laughing we discover a sense of rest and a peace that is always there but covered by a clutter of fears.
If we choose, we can entertain a gentle smile, and that smile becomes yet another stimulus to create a sense of peace and goodwill within.
For a moment we can simply be with how we feel – the mind rests – and peace, well-being and naturalness are present again.
Arjuna Govinda (2007)