Legend has it, that if you come across a laughing Buddha statue, you should rub his tummy. Apparently, your wishes will be granted. Perhaps, you might even laugh while rubbing it. As the aged old saying goes, laughter is the best medicine. It’s also one of strategies to keep you sane as you ascend to higher levels of consciousness.
Finding out the truth of who you are, isn’t a smooth ride into the sunset of Neverland. As you ascend, the mind comes to play tricks, taunt you and find subtle ways to torment you, if you let it.
Parts of my spiritual journey can best be summed up by this quote from the movie Shawshank Redemption, “Andy crawled to freedom through five-hundred yards of shit smelling foulness I can’t even imagine, or maybe I don’t want too.” When you’re crawling through shit, sometimes all you have is humor and faith.
Here are ways to tap into the humor on the spiritual path.
My friend Hannah has a HUGE tapestry hanging up in her apartment with the mantra, “SHIT HAPPENS”. It was quickly adopted as our work slogan. It really puts the challenges and setbacks into perspective. It’s our wake-up call, our reality check.
If you feel lonely, depressed, frustrated or similar emotions right now perhaps you need to find a fresh perspective. Most likely, you’re forgetting that the spiritual process is likened to a blossoming flower. You will grow naturally, and there’s no need to toil during the seeming challenges. They too are part of the flowering of awareness.
We get humorless when we unconsciously believe that we will pop out of the spiritual enlightenment toaster, all crisp and ready-made. The joy is the journey. As I’m writing this, I just received a video of my nephew crawling for the first time after months of being stuck in the all fours position.
Sometimes, we adults get that way too. Not realizing that the feeling of being stuck is also part of the adventure!
Merge Silliness into your Routine
One day, when I was traversing through my neighborhood, I came across a newsstand. I was drawn to a colorful magazine called MAD. I stood there reading and laughing for a half hour. The off color, tasteful booger jokes made me giddy. That experience re-opened my eyes to the relief that humor provides.
From that day on, I committed to merging silliness into my routine. Every morning, I spend ten minutes reading MAD, watching comedy skits on Netflix, or finding jokes online. Somedays, I’m lucky and will get to spend time with funny people. However, I don’t rely on this. I make sure to take my daily laughing medicine.
Try a New Practice or Experience
Often, we can get humorless when we feel stuck in the all fours phase, when we really, really want to be crawling. Sometimes, what’s needed is to lighten up is to find a new practice. It breaks up the stuck, humorless energy and allows the doors of your soul to swing open and let some light in.
I recently tried an improv class. It took me out of my head and into play. There are plenty of funny practices to try that will also help you deepen into awareness and encourage you stay rooted in the present moment.
Here are a few examples:
Kundalini yoga (trust me, some poses will make you laugh), balloon animal making, look up how to Salsa dance on YouTube, comedy shows, play a trick (gag) on someone, shoot bow and arrows, feed ducks, stroll around a toy store, or play Cards Against Humanity… the options are endless.
This might be a little out there for some, however, I feel fairies need a mention. You know fairies, like Tinkerbell in the movie Peter Pan. Similar to how she’s portrayed, fairies can also be fun, light, airy, and want to play! I personally connect with fairy spirits in nature.
When I hike, I take moments to pause and sense the playful energy in the trees. I tell the fairies my human mind-made struggles aloud and instantly feel the release of tension. During the day, I’ll connect to my guides (some of whom are fairies) and I’ll get really amusing (like laugh out loud amusing) blocks of thoughts.
The ones I connect with are a sarcastic bunch. You too have the power to connect to the energy of fairies. Give it a try!
Choose Courage over Comfort
Being a laughing Buddha takes a lot of courage! You can’t be fooled by tricks of the mind telling you that you aren’t enough, need xyz, can’t be happy until you come to full God Conscious realization: yeah, the minds a pretty shitty friend sometimes.
That’s why courage is necessary. You have to tell your mind to take a hike. Instead, listen to your heart and try the activity you have been wanting to do. Follow your intuitive hunches. Tell your loved one your true feelings. Stick up for your truth. Don’t be afraid to be the fullest expressed version of yourself. Or, commit to a meditation routine.
All the above scenarios, sound easy when reading, yet we all know that when life is dishing out these tangible experiences we can shrink and hide. Instead of being in our heart, we listen to our mind and make excuses.
This leads to a pretty humorless existence because we start to unconsciously identify with the belief, ‘I like being comfortable’. When in reality, being comfortable sucks monkey poop. There’s a time and place to Netflix and Chill, and there’s a time to throw comfort in the chuck-it bucket!
The spice, freshness, humor, and play are often in the newness and beyond our comfort zone. So, pump up your courage!
Play with your Inner Child
I can’t even find the right words to explain how much I love playing with my inner child. It’s akin to gazing into a lover’s eyes the first time, watching leaves sway to the ground, being alone on a snowy mountain, the first sounds of birds chirping after a long winter: you get the picture.
We all have an inner child, who wants some tender loving care. We get busy adulting, and forget that play is the spice of life. Not just any play either, we need that tender play where we are really honoring our child’s heart.
For example, I’ll do puzzles, watch re-runs of Mr. Rogers, have a snowball fight, and finger paint. These experiences, allow me to feel the emotions of childhood. What triggers these emotions for you? What activities can you do with your inner child?
Permission to Play
All of the suggestions above are useless, unless you give yourself permission to play. We walk around with a stick up our a$$, holding tight to the idea that play is something we have to earn.
Throwing excuses out like, “I’ll have fun when I’m making more money, have a nicer house, or live somewhere new” “Who has time for it?”, “Why bother?”. Or we settle for a dull version of play like drinking, binge watching, or over eating which are actually numbing habits.
Play on the other hand has a quality of aliveness, joy, freshness, laughter, humor, and flowing feelings. Fully present to moment. Only you can allow yourself your play.
I’ll leave you with a quote from Mark Twain, “Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”
Those words ring deep and true in my soul. Don’t waste this blessing. Be the laughing Buddha. You are the laughing Buddha.