Our precious innate gift
We are born with a natural ability to breathe, laugh and feel emotions. As children we can laugh hundreds of times a day! As we mature laughter becomes more conditional and we grow to let our mind decide if we think it is funny or even appropriate before we laugh.
Dr Kataria learnt that though our minds can differentiate between what is funny and what is not, our body can be made to believe that any movement replicating laughter is a real thing. When our body feels us “laughing” it helps signal our brain to release endorphins that help us feel more alive and energetic. Hence he gave birth to his brainchild, Laughter Yoga.
Laughter, as I like to describe is our easily accessible gift of life that promotes our sense of wellbeing. The fun starts with our smile from about two months of age which soon turns into giggles and further develops into laughing freely countless hundreds of times at almost every opportunity. It flourishes particularly when playfully interacting and building rapport with others at various stage of our lives. We probably feel its pleasurable and calming effects promoting our sense of safety and feeling of togetherness. Its infectious and addictive nature also reflects on our physical, emotional and spiritual levels as it impacts and bridges our personal and social development. We often find ourselves using it to socialise, boost/retrieve our confidence, in team playing and bonding, in building and strengthening relationships and in the way we lovingly show affection and understanding.
Some of us, sadly, may have lost its magic along the way or for others it could be a reminder of some painful and humiliating memory. Ironically however, laughter may also simultaneously prove helpful in de-escalating negative emotional experience with its link between our language, behaviour and emotional states. This could be because as well as promoting our social bonding it is known to help as a positive sensation to overcome stress and depression with its encouraging effect on our mental health and mood. Laughter is known to have the ability to trigger the release of endorphins that help promote our sense of wellbeing in improving the quality of our life; it may also help lift our mood, lower stress, depression and anxiety, tune our immune system, enhance our blood circulation and heighten our pain tolerance levels.
Some research show its physical and mental health benefits to include chronic skeletal muscular pain, alleviates emotional stress, anxiety and depression including the effect on mood and heart rate of patients awaiting organ transplants, dialysis and elderly people to name but a few. Therefore, if we choose to, we still have a chance of retrieving its feel good factor along with its fun and health benefiting positive effects - nurturing our sense of wellbeing is our BIRTH-RIGHT!
Play spontaneously happens in the very now moment just like life, making it a vital part of our wellbeing throughout our life. It nourishes our development, sparks our imagination and challenges us to explore new ways of thinking. By definition it means to engage in activity of enjoyment and recreation rather than serious or practical purpose - just imagine its ripple affects if we can learn to apply this concept to our daily life! As children, we experienced its therapeutic effects and its communicative strengths which is the very reason why we should make a point of carrying it forward into the rest of our life too. Dr Stuart Brown from the National Institute for Play, quotes “play seems to be one of the most advanced methods nature has invented to allow a complex brain to create itself and engage fully with the world. Life without play is a grinding, mechanical existence organised around doing things necessary for survival - play is the vital essence of life. It is what makes life lively”. "Play reminds us that life is full of choices and that it is up to us to make a choice", a statement emphasised by Late Joan Erikson (1902-1997), a dancer, choreographer, jeweller, poet, teacher, writer and researcher. She defined play as something we do in a lighthearted way because we find it amusing and enhancing and where we would find ourself doing it (play) even if we do not have time for it. She states, there is play to be found all around in many forms and ways including playing with an idea for example without predicting the potential response in a conversation. It’s what keeps us wandering in the moment and where we tend to almost seek for the surprise to enhance the result(s). While Scott G Eberle, Ph.D, reminds us that we don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow.
An interesting research into couples showed that people who make skilful use of positive emotions like laughter when dealing with stressful and unpleasant conversations/situations, not only feel better but they also tend to be happier and stay together longer. A fitting example here is of one of India’s wedding rituals that insist the newly weds start their very first marital stage of life with a game called “Koda Kodi" (played soon after taking their wedding vows). This competitive game allows the couple to have three chances in trying to find the gold ring from within the red coloured water in order to determine the “ruler”. The true essence of the game here, however, is to symbolise and remind the couple of the importance of voluntary playfulness in their married life in order to overcome life’s challenges.
Emotion - our energy in motion helps alert us (like GPS) in the form of feelings, raising our awareness with signals and triggers in an attempt to prompt our attention towards our emotional response process affecting our mental health and emotional wellbeing. It’s a way for our body to communicate with us according to Dr Joe Dispenza; we just need to be consciously tuned in to understand and appreciate the particular emotional energy being produced and distributed in our body at the time.
In the meantime, while the negative emotions have been known to adversely affect our health the potential health benefits of the positive emotions on the other hand suggest them to be the key factor in sustaining or even improving our health. Our laughter therapy exercises attempts to help emphasise this in a simplified way while motivating us to re-view our outlook in a positive manner - where for example stress does not need to be such a “villain” all the time.
Rhythmic breathing is a simple breathing technique to help draw our focus towards calm, allowing us to remain as relaxed as possible as it helps balance our emotional energy (including stress), that may otherwise hinder our performance/reaction/result. Developing and practising our awareness of breathing pattern not only helps nourish our vitality (life force) it may also help establish our core inner strength and our sense of safety to discover the true power of our innate potentials.
Breath concentration helps drive our focus on to the pathway towards our core centred-ness and to achieve our body, mind and spirit connection. Breathing, as the source of life sustains us and helps provide energy for everything we do.
It can also act like our internal GPS in helping us make choices and decisions with awareness of what, why and how we choose to focus on something.
To discuss how Laughter Therapy can be implemented within your workplace as a wellbeing program please contact us on Mob: 07736158352 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on our contact form and we will get back to you.