Your Brain on Laughter

A side image of a human brain with an outline of a person meditating inside the brain.

There is plenty of evidence describing how and why meditation is useful.  For example, check out a short Psychology Today article: The Benefits of Meditation, which reports that meditation shifts brain activity away from areas that mediate stress and fear.  If that’s too geeky for you, the Mayo Clinic Staff give a great overview of benefits and provide a helpful list of different kinds of meditation, from mantra meditation to yoga.

But it’s not all Zen and poses.   Meditation can be difficult and even raise anxiety for some – not everyone is ready for greater self-awareness.  So, if you think meditation is akin to contemplating your belly-button lint, are you doomed to a life of stress?  I’m happy to report that there is hope! Recent research by Dr. Lee Berk has shown that real laughter brings about a similar brain state as meditation. How cool is that!?  When we are in the laughter (and meditation)-produced  gamma brain wave state, not only do we like it but it is the state associated with “the highest state of cognitive processing” (as reported by The Record).

Dr. Berk’s earlier research, as described in these news clips, demonstrates other health benefits of laughter, noting that derogatory humour doesn’t cut it.

Whether you love meditation or hate it, everybody benefits from laughter. Because the work we do is serious, and some believe that feminists have no sense of humour, you might be surprised to know that giggling, chortling, chuckling, and even some gaffawing are common activities here at our Centre. As a counsellor, I recommend you take two jokes and call me in the morning.

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