Provision #127: Smile & Laugh

LifeTrek Provision

I know a person who, when he sees me, will oftensay, “Smile, Bob.” I know another person who, in the ordinary course of a day, willaudibly laugh and groan about even the smallest ups and downs. Both personshave hit upon a wonderful tonic for body, mind, and spirit. Smiling andlaughing are proven to enhance health, reduce stress, relieve pain, and buildenergy. They’re good things to do for yourself and for those around you.

Smiling is a great place to start, because smilingdoes not tend to make one feel self-conscious. You don’t feel like smiling? Doit anyway. Smiling when you’re blue can get you back to a rosy mood. After threeto four minutes of smiling, your brain begins to get the message: “I’m smiling– I must be happy.” And so you are.

Dr. Robert Zajong at the University of Michigan,director of the Institute for Social Research, believes that he knows why thishappens. When you smile you change the direction of the blood flow inside yourface in such a way that it causes the temperature of the blood to drop. Coolerblood entering the region of the brain known as the hypothalmus results in arelease of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.

I talked about this last week in relation tobreathing deep. I mentioned that it was important to breathe in through thenose and out through the mouth. Now we know why. Breathing in through the mouthdoes not lower the temperature of the blood supply to the hypothalmus, so itdoesn’t have the same energy building, pain relieving, stress reducing, andhealth enhancing benefits.

Smiling has the same impact as deep breathing.Laughing takes it one step further. Laughing circulates the blood even morevigorously. Do it for very long or very often and it actually becomes a form ofaerobic exercise. You don’t feel like laughing? There’s nothing funny? You’reworried about what will people think? Do it anyway. “Laugh and the world laughswith you,” is more than just a trite old saying. It reflects theinterconnectedness of life, which is never more visible than when laughterstarts spreading from one person to another.

My father-in-law had an exuberant laugh. Whensomething tickled his fancy, he laughed out loud with a belly laugh that wouldsoon infect everyone in his presence. One quickly stopped laughing at theoriginal comic situation and started laughing at my father-in-law’s enjoymentof that situation. At times, it was hard to stop.

There are churches that have replaced music or evensermons with laughter sessions. No jokes are told. One or more people juststart laughing. Slowly it spreads around the room until everyone has caught theSpirit. These churches see laughter as a gift of the Spirit to be celebrated,incorporated, and encouraged. They call it holy laughter.

India has seen an explosion of laughter clubs. Likerunners getting up for their morning run, these clubs get together between 6and 7 in the morning to have 15–20 minutes of laughter. Once again, no jokesare told. After stretching and limbering up, they simply egg each other intoextended bouts of hilarity. They laugh until they can’t stand it any more.Based upon a mirth-inducing posture technique derived from yoga, theypractice different types of laughing including Hearty Laughter, SilentLaughter, Medium Laughter, Dancing Laughter, Cocktail Laughter, Arm-SwingingLaughter, One Meter Laughter and many others.

Smiling and laughing are lostarts. Young children do them hundreds of time per day. Adults are lucky if theymanage 15. Anything we can do to smile and laugh like little children willrestore our health and wonder. No other living beings can smile and laugh. Theyare special gifts of God. Don’t wait for something funny. Fake it, if you haveto, until your mind and spirit catch up with your body. They will, and you’llbe glad you did.
To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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Provision #126: Breathe Deep

LifeTrek Provision

For the past week I’ve been dealing with a series ofcomputer problems. One computer was completely fried, requiring themotherboard, CPU, and video card to be replaced. Other computers hadperipherals that needed to be replaced while they all had one snafu or anotherin the process of upgrading software. Finally, I had to figure out mydaughter’s computer needs, as she gets ready to go to college.

As the resident computer tech for our home and homebased office, all these problems are mine to resolve or refer. This time theyweren’t simple to diagnose and repair. It took many hours over many days to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again. I should have referred!

It feels great to have the problems behind me, andit’s getting easier to relax with every passing day. How did I maintain myequilibrium through a stressful week? I wasn’t always successful. But when Iwas, deep breathing was part of the secret. Nothing is as distracting to me asa problem I can’t solve, especially a computer problem, before I have to go tosleep or another appointment. Unfinished business makes it difficult for me tostay in the present moment: it’s easy to rehash the past and to figure out thefuture. But this is not the way to peace.

Deep breathing can clear the body, mind, and spiritof toxins, worries, and fears. It is the secret to regaining a sense of balanceand control when everything seems to be spinning around wildly. Do you everhave days or weeks like that? Try slow deep breathing, in through the nose andout through mouth.

Deep breathing is a great way to start the day.Carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs at night through the shallow breathing wedo during sleep. Carbon dioxide is heavier than oxygen, so it sinks to thebottom of our lungs (near the diaphragm) and will not come out apart from deepbreathing.

In the absence of deep breathing, the body convertsthe carbon dioxide into carbonic acid that is then processed by the kidneys andexcreted in urine. But why make our bodies work that hard? Five deep breaths inthe morning will clear the lungs and put a good cast on the entire day. Combinedeep breathing with gentle, easy stretching and you’ve got a great formula forrecovery and renewal. This combination lies behind the ancient practice ofyoga.

Deep breathing is also a great way to cope withstressful situations, problems, and challenges. Stress takes a tremendous tollon our bodies, minds, and spirits. It lies behind many illnesses, even majorones like heart disease and cancer, since stress undermines the ability of ourimmune system to maintain optimum health. Research at Yale University indicatesthat stress stimulates the overproduction of cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. It makes the heart race.

Deep breathing tends to counteract the chemistry ofstress. It can block the release of these hormones into the blood stream andincrease the production of serotonin, the feel-good chemical.

Deep breathing is not hard to do. I like to lie onmy back, with my eyes shut and my legs bent underneath me (a great quadricepsstretch). But it works just as well with your legs and arms stretched out asfar as you can reach. Hold that pose for about five minutes, while you feelyour abdomen rising and falling with each slow, deep breath. No chest breathingfor this exercise. Get the air all the way down to the bottom of your lungs, inthrough the nose and out through the mouth. You’ll be surprised how good itwill make you feel.

Deep breathing can even be done in bed, before yourise. But it works better on a firmer surface, where you can really feel thestretch. If you can’t or won’t lie down on the floor, do your deep breathingwhile seated on a pillow or a chair. Do it throughout the day, whenever youfeel stressed, distracted, and troubled. Deep breathing will work its magic onthe whole of your personality and bring you back to a good place to be.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
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Provision #125: Practice Makes Perfect

LifeTrek Provision

How many times did you hear that as a child? If you were an athlete or a musician, probably more times than you want to remember. Practice makes perfect. It seems at once obvious and suspect. Without practice there’s no way to progress; but progress to perfection? Perhaps the old adage promises more than it can deliver.

Deepak Chopra begs to differ. We had the opportunity to hear and be with him while we were on vacation at the Chautauqua Institution. His presence was attractive and amazing, filled with wisdom and grace. Chopra, a respected endocrinologist, has become a leader in the integration of Eastern and Western medical traditions. He sees and articulates the convergence of spirituality and science with great clarity, authority, and hope.

Practice makes perfect, Chopra believes, not because of what we can accomplish through our own heroic efforts but because of what we can receive as we draw close to the perfection that lies under the surface of our everyday lives. The universe is already perfect, “and God saw that it was good,” we just need to drink deeply from the well of this perfection. Practice enables us to stay hydrated with love.

That really is a wonderful concept: staying hydrated with love. Athletes know that to get through a long test of endurance, such as a marathon, they have to be well hydrated. The body can lose a lot of fluid in 3 to 4 hours of vigorous exercise. Drinking more than a gallon of water a day can assist runners to finish the race in style.

So too when it comes to the race of life. To go from a single cell in your mother’s womb to a complex organism of body, mind, and spirit and then to sustain that organism to a ripe old age is no less of a marathon. Most of us do not manage to finish the race in style. Instead, we end up shriveling our body, mind, and spirit until we eventually squeeze them out of existence.

It does not have to be this way, however. Chopra goes so far as to suggest that with practice human beings can learn to substantially lengthen and strengthen their lives. We can come close to the intelligent perfection, what Chopra calls the “ever-present witnessing awareness,” out of which we were created and for which God created life in the first place.

How do we practice for perfection? How do we stay hydrated with love? By exercising the body, mind, and spirit in the time-tested disciplines of love. They aren’t that hard to understand, or even to imagine. They have about them the air of common sense. But too often we allow the stress and strains of life to block them from view and to keep us from practicing them on a regular basis. In the hands of a master artist like Chopra, such common sense exercises become magical and attractive to even the busiest and most distracted among us.

For the next two to three months I am going use my weekly LifeTrek Provision to lift up different exercises for the body, mind, and spirit. These concentric circles of being build upon and connect with each other, so my discussion of the exercises may not be linear. When I get all through, however, they will form a beautiful picture of life, a vision of perfection, an optimum quality of being that is not beyond the reach of anyone. I hope you’ll want to join me for the journey.

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452
Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek
Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services