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.

 

finding the joy connections…

So it’s been a while.

No real excuses other than life happening. And life right now – even with some wonderful times – is a challenge in various ways.  The need for self-care is high, and self-care can look like many different things, and can vary at different times.

One way I’m tapping into self-care is consciously finding what I call the joy connections.

Joy connections are those things, even tiny or seemingly unremarkable things, that connect me with joy.

One very small example that relates to this blog is making the decision to change my tagline and switch my header font color back to blue – because it’s my absolute favorite color, and looking at it brings me joy.

Another joy connection for me is painting. I’ve been deliberately making the space and the choice to spend time at the easel. Because painting on large canvases grounds me, calms me, and brings me joy.

Joy connection for me definitely involves those I love.

Including our sweet kitty…

And I’ve been remembering and reconnecting with things I love, things I used to do, but have put away or pushed aside – or somehow thought I couldn’t have in my life anymore.

Like our old 35mm film camera.

I always loved using this camera so much. Whether changing lenses, or focusing, or simply just holding it in my hands and the feel of it, this camera always made me feel connected to my creativity and to my joy.

But for years, this camera has been put away. Just because it’s not digital.

And then a couple of weeks ago while I was telling a friend in a text about how I never used this camera anymore, it hit me: There’s absolutely no reason for me to stop using something I love, something that’s brought me so much joy.

No reason at all. Sure, it’s less convenient than digital. But the point is the joy it gives me.

So I got the camera out of its case, put in new batteries and film, got reacquainted with its various lenses and settings… and now it’s part of my life again.

It’s a little thing to give myself permission to get out a put-away object I love, and start using it again.

It’s a little thing to take just a few minutes to stand at the canvas and paint a few strokes.

It’s a little thing to give our kitty a cuddle or reach out to hold my husband’s hand.

But sometimes it’s those little things that can connect us with deep joy.

Being aware of what brings joy – and then consciously, deliberately, intentionally bringing those things into a day or a week – it can make such a difference.

And this is one way self-care looks. By choosing to find (and make) those joy connections.

spaces…

As I continually try to go through my days with more grace and ease, I’m reminded of how spaces can be important.

A space doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to cost anything.

For me, it simply needs to feel right for that moment.

My somewhat new morning routine now includes front-porch-sittin’ time.  Although we’ve lived in our house for ages, until two or three months ago I’d never spent much time on the front porch.

It’s small. It’s narrow. It feels so…exposed (for someone who is highly sensitive, extremely introverted, and socially anxious).

But suddenly I felt guided to spend time out there, enjoy some fresh air, before the day became too hot. So I went outside and sat on the front porch one morning. And then the next. And the next…

And now it’s become a routine I treasure.

My husband has weekends off from work, so the two of us sit out there together, on our old park bench, on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

On weekdays, I head there alone with an ancient, small, battery-operated radio.

I listen to soft jazz. I talk to Jesus. I look at the sky. I breathe the fresh air.

It’s a gentle, ease-full, slow movement into the day.

Another space I’ve come to appreciate more this year is the availability of tables at the public library where I can go to get some writing done away from home.

For the first time ever, I ran into a period this past winter and spring where my writing seemed to flow more easily when I was away from my desk – and not only away from my desk, but away from any room of the house.

Fortunately, the public library held the key to unlock my writing flow.

My space at the library offers a different view, different routine, and different feel than my familiar surroundings of home.

The writing is once again flowing when I’m at home  (and I’m so grateful!) but I’ve decided to continue scheduling days when I pack up my writing gear and head to the library to work.

A change of space, a change of pace, a change of view…

Finding the right space for that moment.

It can be a little thing. But it can be powerful.