Last Saturday I didn’t have much planned. When people asked me what I was doing for the weekend, I wasn’t able to answer the question very well. The one thing that I wanted to do was to go to my yoga class. I hadn’t been able to go to yoga once during the week, and was looking forward to going to the 10:00 yoga class on Saturday.
That’s what I “had planned.” After that, I figured everything else would fall into place.
I rode my scooter over to class and strolled up to the entrance with my mat, towel and water bottle. There was a sign on the front door: “The 10:00 am yoga class is canceled.” I remembered that Bruno, my yoga instructor, had said there would be a workshop this weekend; maybe the workshop was happening now. Opening the door, I could see there were people in the studio so I headed in.
Everyone was sitting in a circle and there was a tall, handsome man addressing the group in a soft French accent. Bruno waved me in with an inviting smile. I found a spot on the floor and sat down. As I looked around I could see that there was a local reporter with a laptop and a photographer. In time I learned that this workshop involved a very strange form of yoga.
The other instructor was a slender woman named Hilary who apparently had been a stand-up comedian for many years. She tired of the cut-throat business of stand-up and longed for that simple and joyful thing that had drawn her into comedy in the first place. That’s how she discovered “Laughter Yoga.”
After a brief introduction to the principles of Laughter Yoga, we were told to introduce ourselves using funny faces. A few of the participants were not much into being foolish in front of other adults. I was one of them. Still, I didn’t want to leave the room and essentially announce that I wasn’t willing to participate.
Laughter Yoga is built on the well-known principle that laughing is a good thing, and makes you feel better. There are scientific studies that support this view. Some folks in India started “laughing clubs” where people would gather and tell jokes. But after awhile, they ran out of jokes (and some people were starting to get offended by some of the jokes anyway). Madan Kataria, the instigator of this movement, decided to just have people gather and laugh. No jokes. Just laughter.
And how does that work? Well, as it turns out, you get the same health and mood enhancing benefits from fake laughter as you do from ‘real laughter.’ And watching a bunch of people fake laugh is pretty funny so it doesn’t take long before you are laughing at something “real.”
The funniest thing about the Laughter Yoga seminar that I went to is that it turned out to be an all day seminar and, at the end of it (yes, I stayed for the whole thing), I was given a certificate that attests to the fact that I am now a “Laughter Yoga Instructor.” Now, THAT is hysterical!
Among the many things I learned is that laughing all day long is a serious workout. When I got home I found out that I’d lost 4 pounds. Needless to say, I was hungry. I invited Becky to go to dinner at a Tapas restaurant called Mimi’s, which is in the Marigny section of New Orleans. After dinner we went for a stroll and eventually came upon a woman who was holding a kitten that was mewing incessantly. Apparently, the kitten was 7 weeks old and had lost its mother. The woman kept saying that she wanted to take her but couldn’t. I agreed to take the kitten.
As Becky drove home the kitten was freaking out, but I kept holding it and trying to calm it down. Half way home the kitten started to release the contents of its bowel onto my pants. I didn’t want to get my car dirty too, so I kept the kitten positioned right on my pants, where it continued to purge soft brown substance on to my legs. I was getting little tense, but I tried to breathe and keep calm. After all, I was doing a good thing right?
When I got home I scurried into the bathroom to take off my jeans. I bunched the pants up and plopped everything into the washing machine and started it up. Then I went to the store to get some cat food and kitty litter. At the store I realized I had lost track of my cellphone. I usually carry it in my pants pocket, and so the thought occurred that maybe I had put them in the wash. I started to worry because all of my contacts are in my cellphone and I haven’t been able to synchronize it in several months. When I got home I raced to the washing machine and opened it up. There was my phone, completely soaked.
Obviously, it would never function again. Not good.
I could feel my face start to get warm and my head was getting lighter as I became consumed with anger. Then something inside me switched gears. I thought about Laughter Yoga, and decided that I would try to fake a smile. As I pulled the corners of my mouth up into an exaggerated smile I could feel the anger starting to recede. Soon I began to realize that I was getting upset for no good reason. I realized that I can’t control the things that happen in life. Oh sure, I could have “controlled things” so that I didn’t drown my phone in the washing machine. But, my phone could just as easily have met its demise in some other fashion.
No matter how much you plan, life is always going to throw you some curveballs. And the best thing to do is to prepare to deal with stuff that you’re not expecting.
When I woke up on Saturday morning I had no idea that I would (1) become a Laughter Yoga instructor; (2) rescue a lost kitten, and (3) lose my cellphone with all of my valuable contacts. In the long run, I was going to have to replace that phone anyway. So maybe, in time, I will learn that was for the good too. Meanwhile, the whole Saturday adventure was pretty funny.
If you look at it in the right way.