What Clowns Can Teach Us About Building Resilience

When things are at their worst, mindfulness teacher Elaine Smookler suggests turning to the rules of clowning to face difficult emotions.

Audrey Shtecnjo/Stocksy

When confusion and anger turn you inside out, when you feel like you’ve lost your rudder and aren’t sure whose rudder to trust, this is an excellent moment to turn toward the wisdom of the clown.

All the world loves a clown! Actually, not so much. Let’s face it, clowns scare the bejesus out of people. When I tell folks that I trained as a clown I understand when they step back in primal terror and run away, screaming and sobbing.

Clowns stir up uneasy feelings even for the tough nuts. But fear not, kiddies, the clown has some helpful things to teach us about being free and alive and present when everything seems wretched, horrible, and hopeless.

Richard Pochinko, a visionary teacher and director, created the Pochinko Method, which trained performers to draw on their own anxieties and insecurities to create believable and compelling characters. These masked tricksters helped the audience take a journey into parts of themselves they would rather not see or know about.

By viewing these aspects of myself through the clown, I give myself a way to…