Wanderings III: WanderLaugh (via Wanderlust)

Yoga, organics, conscious consumerism, environmentalism, spirituality --- Wanderlust has a lot of idealistic underpinnings and we talk a lot about the mindful life and other “serious” topics. Sometimes we even forget that, at its essence, Wanderlust is a festival and it’s about having fun. So – from the home of highfalutin idealism also comes these inspired new festival experiences:

Beertan (noun: from Sanskrit/English) a call and response musical form sung with inspiration provided by large frosty pints of lager
Kareyogi (noun: from Japanese/Sanskrit) a mix of kirtan and kareoke where brave souls can channel their own Krishna Das over instrumental tracks (see also: beertan)

There are many others that cannot be revealed in written form but let it be known that deep within the brain trust at Wanderlust HQ, there are many ridiculous ideas being developed and quickly discarded. And that Wanderlust is investing wisely in a staff of 20-somethings equally obsessed with uddiyana bandha as they are with The Onion. I mean you can spend an entire day watching the videos on the TheOnion.com.

We interviewed a lovely intern candidate this week from Northeastern University. The staff was in a giddy mood so our test for our new prospective intern was to see how she would react to us being completely ridiculous. Instead of asking her about her communication skills and software knowledge, we asked her to quote the movie “Jerry Maguire”. She did ok with “help me, help you” --- personally, one of my favorite quotes from the movie. She also did well with the test of reflexes, catching a majority of high velocity nerf balls that we kept throwing at her. All in all, she was astonishingly unfazed and, thus, we all felt like she would be a good fit. More surprisingly, she chose us over interning at a fancier music management company (to go unnamed).

But why do we care about humor? Well, laughter brings more oxygen to the brain and that makes for more energetic and clear-thinking employees (which is why I care).

A developed sense of humor, by and large, indicates an appreciation for irony which requires a degree of intelligence. A quick wit is often a good hire and, at the very least, contributes to general hilarity around the water-cooler (when said employee actually remembers to order water).

But, more generally, humor is often a conduit for the truth. What we cannot say with a straight face – because it is not politically correct or we are worried about offending someone – we can couch in humor. People can more easily accept the truth in the form of a joke.

This is the entire premise of The Daily Show for example. Recently, President Obama was interviewed by Jon Stewart. After a raucous welcome, Stewart asks this question of the president:

"So here you are, you're two years into your administration and the question that arises in my mind: Are we the people we were waiting for or does it turn out those people are still out there and we don't have their number?" (link)

Lest you think there is no tie-in with yoga here, enter laughter yoga. Laughter yoga (www.laughteryoga.com) was started in 1995 by Dr. Kataria with a group of 5 people and now, he claims, there are over 6000 laughter yoga groups around the world – no laughing matter. If the mantra “Ha Ha Ha, Ho Ho Ho” doesn’t immediately tickle you then just watch this video: 

The description of laughter yoga is simply hilarious in and of itself. I was in tears watching it by myself. In moments when I am down and out, I also often indulge in a little Indian pole dancing:


It is also worth noting that laughter has been found by the Mayo Clinic to be a serious stress reducer by increasing the endorphins that are released by your brain, stimulating circulation and muscle relaxation and cooling down your stress response. Researchers at the Mustard Institute claim laughter improves your immune system - releasing neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses, and works as a pain reliever by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. However, the Ketchup Consortium maintains that, despite its many great qualities, laughter in not a substitute for condiments.

Scientists claim that babies can laugh a mere 17 days into their lives. People of all nationalities and racial backgrounds share laughter as a common language. They may not hear it, but the deaf can laugh. Certain animals can share in a snicker or two. That’s right --- a good hoot brings us together like few other things can. So if you're looking to raise your spirit - and simultaneously get a solid abs workout - come to Wanderlust 2011 and laugh with us.