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Healing Tonics: Laughing and Crying

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There’s an old Joni Mitchell song, “People’s Parties,” that says, “ … laughing and crying, you know it’s the same release.” This lyric was a favorite of mine long before I learned that laughing and crying really do produce the same effect in the body. They both release tension from the nervous system. A good laugh or cry also pumps the energy that resides underneath our navel area, the “source of life,” according to Ayurveda, the ancient Hindu healing tradition.


Ayurveda, made known to most Westerners by Deepak Chopra, MD, indicates that the body has seven energy centers, or “chakras”—a Sanskrit word meaning “circle” or “wheel.” The area from the navel to the sternum corresponds to the third chakra, known as the Solar Plexus Chakra, which is said to be our energy powerhouse. This chakra helps you live your best life, overcome inertia, and take action toward your goals. It is the source of personal strength, for living according to your convictions. Expressing your joy or sadness by laughing or crying “massages” the Solar Plexus Chakra, thereby strengthening your vitality.


Modern medical research has validated ancient Ayurvedic wisdom about the healing properties of laughter and tears. Laughing stimulates endorphins and other “feel good” hormones that release stress and improve your sense of well being. It’s also been proven to reduce pain, boost your immune system, and improve your cardiovascular system by increasing the blood flow to the heart and brain. Providing benefits similar to aerobic exercise, laughing oxygenates your blood, which increases your energy level and gives all your internal systems a workout.


Recent research also shows that humor and laughter—being great stress relievers and morale boosters—support peak levels of job performance. And many studies have shown that laughter improves relationships by strengthening emotional bonds between partners. It helps create—and can restore—a positive emotional environment in intimate relationships and strengthens the sense of connection between people by actually synchronizing the brains of the speaker and listener.


While it’s more commonly known that “laughter is the best medicine,” crying also heals by not only stimulating the energy powerhouse in your third chakra, but also by relaxing you, balancing your stress hormones, and helping release toxic emotions that can get stuck in the body. Long before modern medical research discovered these benefits, Australian physician and surgeon Sir Henry Maudsley (1859-1944) accurately described the healing value of crying: “Sorrows which find no vent in tears may soon make other organs weep.”


So, have a good cry when you need to. And laugh. Often. By doing so, you will improve your health, enhance your job performance and relationships, and feel more relaxed, renewed, and energized, so you can more joyously pursue your dreams.


Food for thought: How can you bring more laughter into your everyday life? Read an amusing book or columnist, watch a funny movie, and connect with others who are good at seeing the humor in everything. Try making a point to laugh everyday. You’ll be healthier and happier!


Wishing you much laughter and joy today, and everyday.


To your good health—and success!

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