Sukumar Satpathy

Ana Banana, Portugal: I am a professional clown who spent 30 years making people laugh, but that does not mean I can still do it. On the contrary, my life became darker and darker, eventually reducing me to a depressed and severely ill person. I couldn’t find the light at the end of the tunnel, with my marriage ending, practically homeless, my little 4 year old daughter, Zara, looking at me with concern and switching roles to comfort and protect this over grown kid, who was drowning in tears and self – pity. Even my joints stopped functioning – the glands in my knees just shriveled up and died! Commenting with a friend of mine (also a clown) on this strange contradiction between making people laugh and feeling utterly miserable, she answered: “Oh didn’t you know? Most clowns have very sad lives, and their relationships never last long, it goes with the profession, get used to it. You see, it’s the exaggeration of tragedy that creates comedy and the more real the tragedy in your life, the funnier you are.”

Oh! I thought to myself. Well this can’t be worth it. In one of our classes (I’m a hospital clown and we take lessons twice a year with the world’s best clowns) a clown teacher, Shobi Dobi, did a few Laughter Yoga exercises with us and I felt instant relief, like the whole world had been lifted off my shoulders. So I questioned her after the class about it. She said: “Didn’t you know? Everyone needs to laugh, especially clowns.” And she suggested I look up Dr. Kataria.

I knew I’d found my ticket. After writing to Dr. Kataria and receiving a very loving and personal first response I knew I was on a mission. Today, 7 years later, I have helped more people laugh than a lifetime of being a clown and have inspired over 400 people to do the same. So I feel my contribution to humanity has suddenly expanded way beyond my wildest imagination.

Not to mention my complete mind, soul and body health returning and giving me a chance to start all over – which I did! I re-married one of my laughter students Jörg Helms (laughter is definitely a love potion!) and guess who married us? Who else? Dr. Kataria performed his very first wedding in Majorca and our vows were said in gibberish, while our hearts spoke the truth!!!

We then went on to have a baby even at the ripe age of nearly forty! Our midwife was pleasantly surprised to learn about Laughter Yoga during birth, because it proved to be the best analgesic, a muscle relaxant, which actually helped and our child Malik was out in 4 hours to the sound of laughing parents!

My husband and I created a non profit organization, built a school for laughter, a beautiful geodesic dome and are on the way to bringing Laughter Yoga to every human that will open the door even just a crack.

I know you may be thinking – can laughter really help us? Can we end wars, heal our wounds and start a new reality here on Earth? Well we are the living proof. Four years into our marriage and whenever one of us raises our voice, even slightly, someone in our family remembers to laugh and we all join in. That’s why, although this seems to be the end of what I have to share, it is in-fact just the beginning.

In June 2012, we are organizing a Laughter Teacher Course, a Laughter Leader Congress, an International Congress on the Science of Laughter and a mega laughter session to finalize all the events. It’s our turn to welcome everyone to Portugal, the land where sadness was invented and now, thanks to laughter, we have become the land of flowing emotion, romance and hope.

Now, what I want to accomplish is to bring more laughter into the lives of people, inspire laughter professionals to spread the word of laughter unconditionally and not get hassled about any rates or fees as it is not about making money; it is about providing good health and joy to people, and striving towards World Peace.

Ana Banana: