laughter yoga, anxiety, lightness…

As part of my healing journey, I’ve started taking time each day for some laughter yoga.

Laughter yoga is something I’ve thought of doing for years because I’ve long known the benefits of laughter when it comes to physical and emotional health. But I procrastinated and put it on the back burner, thinking to myself “oh yes, I need to look that up on youtube” whenever I happened to think of it at all.

But thanks to the brain retraining and neural rewiring I’ve been deeply diving into lately (because of my physical healing journey, as well as to help with my lifelong anxiety), laughter yoga came back into my awareness several times over the course of a few days. And my procrastination about it finally came to an end.

What is laughter yoga?

Well, this is the definition according to wikipediaLaughter yoga (Hasyayoga) is a practice involving prolonged voluntary laughter. This type of yoga is based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter. It is done in groups, with eye contact, jokes and playfulness between participants. Forced laughter often turns into real and contagious laughter.

I haven’t been doing it with a group (I’m not aware of any groups in my area for laughter yoga) but youtube has been filling in just fine.

And the laughter changes things… Physically. Emotionally. Mentally. After even a few minutes of laughter yoga, I notice a decrease in anxiety and a new level of lightness to my mood. I’ve also noticed that the benefits stay with me long after I stop the laughter yoga session. The good-feeling energy-shifting of the laughing spills over into the rest of my day.

I’m doing lots of other things to decrease anxiety, engage with joy, and help cope with physical symptoms. Laughter yoga is only one tool of many in my toolkit.

But so far it’s proving to be a very helpful tool.

There are many laughter yoga videos on youtube – way more than I’ve watched. Here’s one I’ve used:

It can feel a bit strange at first, it can feel not-really-funny at first, but the laughter becomes contagious. Before long, I’m laughing just because.

It’s those mirror neurons firing.

And the results are good stuff.

 

and it’s back to writing…

A few months ago, I stopped working on my writing.

The novel revisions came to a halt. I didn’t explore ideas for new writing projects. My blogging became even less frequent than before.

It didn’t feel like a writing block. It simply felt like I was meant to (temporarily) put my energy and focus elsewhere.

Like painting. And my healing journey. (And painting is a big part of my healing journey.)

My creative flow was still going strong, but it was flowing to other things instead of writing.

Maybe partly because my creative flow kept flowing, and maybe partly because I didn’t feel like I was blocked when it came to writing, it didn’t bother me that I put the writing aside for a while.

I knew, intuitively, writing would come back around when it was time.

And it has.

Two weeks ago, writing showed showed up again, gently nudged me, and whispered come on, let’s get going again.

So we’re going again.

No forcing, no pushing, no angst. Just going with the writing flow. Enjoying the process.

It feels right and good, and I’m grateful.

Not writing isn’t always about being stuck or blocked. Sometimes writing takes a back seat for a while so that it can return refreshed and renewed and ready to get going again.

watercolor playing for the 100 day project…

A couple of times in the past, I started to participate in #The100DayProject only to stop after a few days. This year, though, has been different. I began on the “official” start date of April 2 and I’m writing this on day 71… and I’m still going, doing a creative project every day for these one hundred days.

I’m not sure why it’s different for me this year. Maybe part of it is because I chose a daily project that’s something I absolutely love – playing around with watercolor paints.

And maybe another part of it (and maybe even the biggest part) is because I truly am letting myself simply play.

It doesn’t matter what the end results look like.

It doesn’t matter how much – or how little – time I spend on a single painting.

It doesn’t matter if I use many colors or only one. Or whether I use a small journal or a large journal or even no journal at all.

The point, for me, is to play with watercolors every single day.

And that’s what I’m doing.

For me, it’s relaxing. Calming. Meditative. Soothing. Happy-feeling.

For me, it helps with anxiety and stress. (So much.)

It’s part of my healing journey, it helps distract me when I’m not feeling well, and it helps me connect with joy.

That’s my why for this. And because those particular things – those things that make up my why – are so very important for my life right now, and because I let myself simply enjoy the process and play, I haven’t needed to “make” myself sit down every day to do this.

I come to the practice eagerly and joyfully. I look forward to it. And I have fun with it.

Do you let yourself simply play with a creative practice? Do you relax about it, and do it for the joy it brings?

I hope so. It helps with life, it really does.

(I share my 100-days-project posts on instagram with the hashtag #100daysofwatercolorplaying – come connect with me there!)