“When you speak, the sound goes forth as vibrations in the subtle worlds. It produces good or negative vibrations depending on its content. If the sound is laughter, it produces millions of vibrations that resound in positive motion.” Nanette V. Hucknall, Founder of Higher Self Yoga
The path to the Higher Self is one of discipline, study, and focus. No one becomes the best possible version of themselves without dedication and sustained effort, but that doesn’t mean the spiritual path has to be intensely serious at all times. In fact, joy and laughter can be wonderfully helpful companions, even during the most difficult moments of your journey.
Comedy and Laughter Keep Us Strong in Difficult Times
Have you ever heard the term “gallows humor”? It refers to the brand of dark comedy you’ll often hear from soldiers on the front lines, or from people who have become used to spending their lives in a constant state of danger. This humor can sound to outsiders callous in its mockery of death, destruction, and other serious subjects, but it serves an important purpose.
Comedy and laughter help us deal with challenging and scary situations by neutralizing the fight-or-flight response that can paralyze us with fear. Human beings cannot function properly in high-stakes situations if they’re scared, and laughter gives us an evolutionary coping mechanism to keep us from being overwhelmed by a sometimes terrifying and dangerous world.
Thankfully, most people will not experience life-threatening situations in their daily lives. Still, learning to joke and laugh about your deepest struggles can take away a great deal of their power.
Laughter Has Healing Powers
“Few people realize that health actually varies according to the amount of laughter. So does recovery. People who laugh actually live longer than those who do not laugh.” – James J. Walsh
We’ve all had a moment where we went from overwhelmed by a difficult situation to laughing hysterically. In those moments it’s easy to see how a good laugh can help dissolve our mental stress and tension, but these benefits extend to our physical bodies as well. Laughing also increases oxygen intake, stimulates the brain to release endorphins, and soothes tension, which in turn can improve your immune system and relieve pain.
Humor Helps Us Take Life Less Seriously
As spiritual practitioners, we are right to place the lessons, practices, and commitments we have invested in with particular reverence and devotion. We want to differentiate our spiritual endeavors from the other, more mundane pursuits of our world. For instance, we may treat the area in our home where we meditate with more care and attention than say, the space where we go to relax and unwind.
This has a helpful place in keeping our spiritual selves uplifted but can become problematic when this veers into an untouchable, almost severe attitude towards all things spiritual. We must find the balance between keeping our spiritual world uplifted while still being able to bring lightness and gentleness to this piece of our life.
Laughter Clears the Path to the Higher Self
Learning to laugh at ourselves is psychologically liberating. So much stress and embarrassment can be traced back to small, insignificant moments when we fall short of our own self-imposed beliefs about who we are as a person. For example, if we cling tightly to the idea of ourselves as intelligent people, it becomes very hard for us to cope with situations where we say something incorrect, no matter how insignificant it is. Once we abandon these internally-imposed expectations, our response to small moments like pronouncing a word incorrectly or tripping going up the stairs changes from social embarrassment to one of genuine humor.
To take it one step further, the power of laughing at ourselves is not just psychologically healthy, but a powerful spiritual tool as well. When we laugh at ourselves, we are not laughing at our true selves. Instead, we are laughing at the idea of ourselves, that illusory identity we describe when we say “I am.” Laughing at this spectre reminds us that this artificial self is largely a figment of our imagination, one built from our worldly status, selectively chosen memories, and the way other people treat us.
When we laugh at this artificial, “external” self, the part of us we identify with social trappings like where we live and how much we make, we strip away a superficial notion of identity. This process, also known as “shedding the ego,” clears out a path to our Higher Selves, that which is timeless, immutable, and connected to the source.