In Laughter Clubs, we laugh for no reason, to get the multifold benefits of laughter and yogic breathing on the body and mind. In addition to the physical and mental benefits, we also try to identify the various factors in our life which stop us from laughing. We discovered five major roadblocks, taken from Indian scriptures, which have proved as the biggest challenges or obstacles on our way to attain spirituality.
The 5 major roadblocks are: 1. Kama (Desire and Lust), 2. Krodha (Anger), 3. Moha (Attachment), 4. Lobha(Greed), 5. Ahamkara (Ego).
In this article we discuss one such road block – Attachment.
Your Laughter can become Yoga only when you are free from bondages and attachments in life. You can become like Buddha (enlightened person) when you remain unaffected and undisturbed, by every situation that comes your way. To achieve a neutral state of mind under all circumstances of success and failure, pleasure and pain, love or hatred, one needs to liberate oneself from all Attachments.
Attachments basically arise out of your Ego Mind, which tries to possess and own the objects of your desires. The Ego Mind has only I, My, Me, selfish agenda like my car, my business, my family, my wealth etc. These Attachments lead to dependence; dependence leads to slavery, and you will find yourself being controlled by your desires. If you are not able to achieve what you want, you become miserable, and on the other hand, if you get what you want; it will lead to the fear of losing it. One becomes chained to the objects of desire, and there is no freedom of expression and behavior.
The question that now arises is how to become detached and liberate oneself from the bondage of the Ego Mind, which tries to hold on to everything in life. At the outset, I want to make it very clear that Detachment does not mean you renounce or give up your goals and ambitions. It does not mean that you should not seek pleasures, build your business or wealth. The goal of Detachment is Inner Freedom under all circumstances; it is the ability to remain unaffected in the face of challenges and adversities. Detachment also means, not to get carried away by your achievements and success.
How To Get Detached
This is easier said than done. There are several physical and mental tools available which can be repeatedly practiced over a period of time until they become a part of your being. In my experience, Physical Tools in the form of Action and Behavior, are more effective than Mental Tools of Understanding and Intention. This is like Laughter Yoga, in which laughing from the Body is easier than laughing from the Mind.
Steps For Detachment
Start by analyzing and reflecting on your Thoughts, Actions and Behavior, which indicate an Attachment in life. The ideal time to do this is just before going to sleep. Another time to reflect is after Silence Meditation. In our Spiritual Retreats, we found that during the Silence Phase, one connects with the deeper self, and gets to know more about it with profound clarity.
Once you identify Attachments, don’t feel bad about it. Accept them as they are, without any judgments and feelings of guilt. Keep in mind we all have Attachments, including the person who is writing this article ha ha ha!!
Exercise: In Laughter Yoga Spiritual Retreats we have an exercise for Acceptance. This is a kind of self-dialogue, where a person talks to himself or herself.
“I completely accept my weaknesses and inconsistences”
“I am perfect as I am with my weaknesses included in it.”
“I love myself when I am attached”
“I love myself when I am not attached”
2. Understand Universal Law Of Change
Everything in this world is changing; nothing is permanent. Weather changes, people change, and you are changing every moment. Attachment occurs because the Ego Mind presumes that one is going to live forever. On the contrary, one doesn't even know what will happen the next moment. If we remind ourselves that the only thing that is Constant is Change, and that nothing will stay forever, Detachment becomes easier.
Exercise: Repeat the following mantra everyday while you sit in silence.
Life is a Change, Everything is Changing, and Nothing is Permanent.
Repeat at least 10-20 times, and take a deep breath every time you say it.
3. To Give
Since the root cause of Attachment is the Ego Mind, all the exercises are directed to dissolve the Ego. Remember, the Ego wants to Achieve and Possess, therefore, Giving is a very powerful exercise or a ritual, that dilutes the Ego.
Exercise: Each day before you sleep ask yourself a question:
“Have I given something to someone today?" It can be in the form of service, help, smilea, compliments, charity, intentions, prayers, volunteering your time and efforts for a social cause etc.
Everyday, do one small act of kindness, which makes a difference to the lives of all living in your environment. Serving the Universe and to love everything and everyone without judgment, likes and dislikes, will develop a Universal Attachment which leads to Personal Detachment.
Through the network of Laughter Club members, we share such acts of kindness, and as a group dynamic, we keep inspiring and motivating each other, until it becomes a part of conscious habit.
4. Find Higher Attachment
If you ask a child to give you his tricycle, chances are you may not get it. But, if you show him a bicycle, he will give you his tricycle! This proves that when you get attached to something higher in the mind, you get detached from the lower ones. Thereby, get absorbed in the spiritual path, and you will soon forget about all the pleasures of the lower mind.
5. Breathing Meditation
Our mind has a habit of staying in the past, and remembers the glorious moments we had. We sometimes miss the wonderful things that happened. From frequent visits to the past, springs a desire for repeat actions, and one longs for more experiences in the future. But, if we train our mind to stay in the present moment, and try to enjoy the best of it, we will not have any longings or Attachments.
Exercise: In Laughter Yoga Retreats, we have 'Soooo-Hummm', a kind of Breath Meditation – in Sanskrit it means: I am a part of the Universe. The microcosm and macrocosm are the same, and connected.
Focusing your awareness on the breath will keep you in the present moment, as both Breathing and Laughter, are activities which can only be performed in the present; you can’t breathe in the past or future.
How To Do Soooo-Hummm
Step 1: Watch your in-breath and out-breath from beginning to end. While inhaling, say Sooooooooooo (in your mind – non verbal) ………….and while exhaling say Hummmm (also in your mind). With complete attention on the breath, and the mind occupied on the mantra, you will notice your thought process will slow down significantly, and you will experience a calmness of the mind.
Step 2: Another important guideline about Sooooo-Hummmm Meditation is that you should try and breathe as slowly and deeply as possible. You should take about 4-6 breaths in a minute. (Normal breathing rate is 15 per minute). This will slow down the heart rate, and other physiological parameters.
Step 3: While bringing your awareness on the breath, imagine you are breathing into the entire body, not just into the lungs. Feel the air going to each and every cell of your body. And finally, with each breath, imagine your body is expanding into the Universe, to become one with the Universe. When you are completely engrossed in Breath Awareness, you will feel a sense of lightness, as if there is no body. There will also be very few thoughts in the mind.
Important: In the beginning, while focusing your awareness on the Breath, some thoughts will keep crossing your mind. This is okay, but do not get upset with these thoughts. Let them come. Your job is to keep bringing your awareness back to your Breath.
6. Laughter Yoga Exercises
One value-based Laughter Yoga Exercise, we do in the Laughter Clubs is 'Laugh at Your Own Self.' Point a finger towards your head (symbol of Ego Mind) and also towards the middle of your chest. Laughing at Your Own Self,makes one humble, and keeps one grounded. This also means accepting all mistakes and weaknesses without getting upset.
Dr. Madan Kataria