Susan Dustin CLYT, Thailand: The Sirindhorn National Rehabilitation Center is the largest rehab center in Thailand dealing with stroke, accident and disabilities of all manners, as well as creating and supplying artificial limbs. Recently, we began hosting weekly Laughter Yoga sessions with both inpatients and outpatients, comprised of a group of day care patients and the Independent Living Training Section.
In order to assist recovery and instill joyful, hopeful attitudes we decided to incorporate Laughter Yoga with loads of hugs, positive reinforcement and rhythmic play, which can be enacted by anyone with a willing heart. A typical session has participants dancing about, even in their wheel chairs, banging out their names, parroting new English words, or colors, shapes, and expressing emotions via tambourines and shakers and by breaking into a series of laughter exercises. The drumming, laughing, clapping and use of their voices reinforces not only the lessons we wish to impart but also most importantly, builds self-worth in a fun manner.
It’s heartening to witness people with disabilities progressing both mentally and physically along with their attitudes shifting to more joyful and inspired ones. Using all our senses through playful laughter and hands on rhythm has miraculously helped to unlock some of the patients who are not usually responsive.
One such case was a visually impaired young woman with severe learning disabilities. She was very withdrawn and didn’t speak. During a session, we were completely surprised to hear her not only speak, but to do so in English (not her language), and with a huge smile on her face. Our relationships are growing with the patients and caregivers alike through this happy healing medium and we are most grateful to be able to share it with others.