Bachan Singh, Malaysia: After completing the Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher Training at Bangalore in January 2012, not a single day did I miss practicing laughter exercises. Recently, during the Chinese New Year gathering, I demonstrated Laughter Yoga exercises to about 15 people who had no problem following the instructions and were very excited about the concept.
The physical benefits of Laughter Yoga are tremendous as it helps you to learn the right technique of breathing - an important factor for good health. About three years ago, while driving to work, I experienced a chest pain on the left side of my body, close to my left arm. The pain radiated to the back of my body and I suspected that it has something to do with the heart. I got myself admitted in the hospital. The doctors did the angiogram and found about 20% blockage but said it was still okay. However, he asked me,”Do you know how to breathe?” I was surprised, but he explained that from the test results, the pain was due to the lack of oxygen supply to the muscles. He said that most people working in the office breathed through their chest and did not use their diaphragm (abdominal breathing). Laughter Yoga teaches simple laughter exercises which help one to do diaphragmatic breathing. Your breathing improves by just laughing! The diaphragm automatically contracts; stale air is exhaled and fresh air automatically replaces it.
Besides the enormous health benefits, the spiritual aspect of Laughter Yoga effectively heals the mind. As most of the problems stem from the mind, one needs to change the mind state and attitude and Laughter Yoga is an ideal way to do this. It has the ability to change one’s mood state almost instantaneously from negative to positive and generate feelings of happiness, joy and calmness. We try to find happiness through various ways. Some feel money can bring them happiness but unfortunately not all rich people are happy. Some find happiness by drinking alcohol. Some spiritual gurus stress on ‘having no mind’, the key to happiness, but there is no absolute answer. In fact, the five main negative traits - greed, anger, vanity, attachment and lust keep people in a constant negative vortex from which it is very difficult to get out. Laughter Yoga steers you away from these pessimistic thoughts and takes you towards real happiness.
Transition Of The Mind From Childhood To Adulthood
If you notice, small children below 2 ½ years old are completely carefree. They do not know any negative traits and this is because the mind is not fully developed. They are full of love - they play, dance, sing and laugh and are not bothered about surroundings. After 2 ½ years, when the mind starts to develop, the child tends to become self- conscious. During this period he is very volatile. His mind is like the hard disk - garbage in, garbage out. He tends to follow his surroundings. Whatever beliefs we feed the mind at this time, the mind utilizes it. Read this article which is a good example of conditioning by the surroundings. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambodian_jungle_girl)
Later, when children grow up to be adults, they have to behave like adults. They tend to be serious about their job, family and friends. They play different roles, father, mother, manager, teacher, and identify themselves with these roles. They are moulded by the society or rather ‘hypnotized’ to live their life through a structured manner. They face heavier responsibility and to them success means having more money, property etc. They tend to be more materialistic. Along the way, they become totally stressed which has a negative impact on their health. They hardly laugh as they did in their childhood and their thoughts (mind) overpower them making them very helpless. Any action, performed through the body starts with a thought. If the thought is destructive, then the action is also destructive. There is a link between the mind and body i.e. theory of motion creates emotions – this is one of the fundamentals of Laughter Yoga.
So, how do adults regain the happiness they have lost? The answer is to be like children. Laughter Yoga helps the way to become childlike in which people once again learn to play, dance, sing and laugh without using the mind. Life is not taken seriously and one learns how to face challenges and difficult times with a smile.
Bachan Singh, CLYT