Why I love Laughter Yoga
Sebastien Gendry, USA

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My name is Sebastien Gendry. Teaching and promoting Laughter Yoga has been my full time job since 2005.

This unique method has played a major role in shaping who I now am. I spent the first decade of my adult years in an inner state of confusion. I conformed with society and what I thought was expected of me: my father had worked hard all his life, so I too worked hard. In my head this was what it meant to be a man. I became a workaholic who thought he could handle the stresses of a successful business, but still I felt miserable. It was a time when I routinely worked 60 to 70 hours per week running my own company in England.

I could do things better and faster than anybody else and never learned to delegate. The more business flourished, the deeper the dark and narrow hole I called work became.

It got so bad that eventually I sensed and saw myself dying in a self-made box of anger and sadness. I felt that I had crashed and burned. All the work, the awards and my successful business partnership, which seemed to define who I was, stopped being priorities. At age 31 I decided I would not die the richest man in my cemetery and closed shop. I changed lifestyle, job, country, and pursued activities closer to my heart.

Things improved, and yet "joy" still eluded me. I had lost my confidence and a sense of who I really was. I claimed inner peace, but my face didn't know it. I rarely smiled, and was so convinced that I could laugh anytime I wanted to that I never did. Life unfolded primarily in my head. I did not own the emotions of my body, and constantly played the victim role. There was always someone or something to blame when I felt bad.

Then Laughter Yoga came along. One day I read an article about the emerging movement of Indian Laughter Clubs and found myself instantly on fire. While I could not make any sense out of what appeared to be adults behaving like idiots in public spaces, I deeply resonated with the idea of "laughing for no reason." My heart knew something that my mind couldn't get. Within three weeks I was on a plane to Mumbai, India, some 8,000 miles away. I had to learn more.

Here is not the place to expand on what happened next. It wasn't much, and it still is everything. I discovered that I could laugh as and when I wanted to, and that this could make me feel good even when everything in my life seemed to be going astray. It was so profound that it triggered a cataclysmic reaction in my brain. The mask fell. I stopped being who I thought I should be and started being who I really wanted to be. I learned to always take full responsibility for my actions and how they made me feel.

I am greatly indebted to Dr Kataria for having followed his own light. His inspiration to laugh as a form of exercise did not change my life. It still is much better than that. It changed me.

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