Pet Cafe and Laughter Meditation at the Multifaith Centre

I entered the new semester with an optimistic outlook, but I was quickly sucked into academic stress and the ‘January blues’. The first three weeks of the second semester seemed to go by with snail-paced slowness, and at times it felt as though January would never end. Everyone I talked to seemed to have the same consensus; the first month back was exhausting.

Finally after a long and excruciatingly slow month, February came. The first day of the new month I decided to get out of the regular routine that I had established over the past couple weeks; go to class, go home, study, sleep and repeat. I did this by spending a couple hours at the Multifaith Centre located on campus by Finnerty Gardens.

During the first semester I had attended ‘Pet Cafe’ a handful of times and I really enjoyed the experience. Showing up each week to hang out with some therapy dogs always brightened my day and brought a smile to my face, so I decided to give it another go.

When I showed up this week I did not know that I was in for a real treat. Have you ever been to a dog’s birthday party? I certainly hadn’t until today!

When I arrived everyone was clustered around a small dog named Rosie. She wore a birthday ribbon and received a variety of toys and lots of pets on her special day. She was a bit nervous about all the extra attention, but after getting a pup cup filled with whip cream and shredded cheese she cheered right up.

therapy dogs and handlersOf course it would not be a proper birthday party unless everyone got a treat, so all of the therapy dogs who were there that day got their own pup cups and all the humans got a slice of birthday cake.

Then we gathered around for photos of all the dogs together with their handlers and sang Happy Birthday. Rosie might not have realized that it was her birthday, but she did have a good time!

After I visited with all the dogs I decided to participate in the laughter meditation that was taking place at the Multifaith Centre. I have done meditation before but never meditation involving laughter.

When I entered the room I was a little hesitant and did not know what to expect. On the floor there were yoga mats and pillows in a circle. The instructor urged us all to take a seat.

Once we had found a mat we all laid down and let the facilitator guide us through a spoken relaxation and breathing exercise. Then she grabbed a bell and told us once it was rung to start laughing.

At first the sounds people began to make were forced. But the more we opened up the easier it was to laugh freely without fear of judgment or self inhibition. We continued to laugh for several minutes; it was difficult to determine how much time had passed since we began.

Then the bell rung again and slowly the sounds of laughter faded. For a couple more seconds people laughed as it was difficult to stop once you had begun.

The last few minutes of the session were dedicated to reflection and more relaxation through deep breathing. The entire session took roughly 30 minutes and after I felt renewed and energized from the experience.

In the future I plan to make Pet Cafe and laughter meditation a regular part of my weekly routine. If anyone one else is interested in attending either of these activities all you have to do is show up to the Multifaith Centre every Wednesday from 2:30pm-4:00pm for pet cafe and 3:30pm-4:00pm for laughter meditation.

There is also a meditation club on campus that is run by the same facilitator who leads the laughter meditation sessions. Info about the club can be found on Instagram at @uvicmeditationclub.

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