Free your mind. What does this feel like for you? How do you free your mind?
One way I can describe freeing my mind are those times when I am with a friend and we are absolutely helpless with laughter. Bent over, sides hurting, and howling with laughter. There is just something about experiencing this kind of laughter and being lost in the moment. It is like a transaction of abandon that feels like I left the planet for a brief while. And it is such a pure connection with another human being. A moment when I feel free to be exactly who I am.
And the moment lingers long after you have parted ways with your friend. You think of it the next morning when you are standing in line for your morning latte and you feel the power of that very same laugh burbling up from within. A small laugh escapes you and the person ahead of you turns around and smiles with you. Another connection.
Laughter is a gift that is one of life’s daily miracles. It redeems us from those moments that do not feel exactly stellar. It invites us to embrace spontaneity and maybe even some forgiveness. Laughter leads to a moment of exquisite freedom. It is you feeling like what it is to be totally you.
One of my research projects involves looking at the effects of laughter in an educational setting. The statistics that I uncovered in my reading vary a bit, but it is said that the average child laughs approximately 400 times a day; the average adult somewhere between 4 to 11 times. What do you think? Do you laugh anywhere near 400 times a day? Do you laugh more than 11 times a day? This disparity would be funny if it weren’t so sobering. It has definitely encouraged me to seek more moments of laughter in my day. The more I laugh, the more I free my mind. Or maybe it is the other way around. Either way, it is a cycle that I happily embrace.
In the ways of research, the findings regarding laughter in the classroom were somewhat predictable and also somewhat surprising: Laughter can be a wonderful way to make amazing learning connections in the classroom; additionally, learning can be enhanced by engaging the limbic system — which is great for learning. Have you ever wondered why you simply didn’t feel comfortable in a learning environment? Laughter, used with empathy and sensitivity, is also effective in lowering the affective filter — a term Stephen Krashen has used to describe how negative factors in the classroom block how we learn and how we process a learning experience.
But caution is advised concerning our use of laughter. What you think is funny, could very possibly offend or confuse another –> thus spiking the affective filter to go up and to raise a wall — which is not not so good for learning. So there is the whole respect factor where laughter is present. You have to be aware and you have to be sensitive to others when you’re trying to have fun. It’s all good when you think about it: the presence and the absence of laughter. They both signal connection and respect.
Which, I believe, are two good components of freedom: connection and respect.
Free your mind. This Playing for Change recording is so very captivating. If I listen to it once, I have to listen to it again. So simple and complex and rich. And beautiful. And speaks to collaboration, beauty, talent, and freedom.