Sukumar Satpathy

Eiko Saito, Japan: This is an account by Eiko Saito a 54 year old woman, who was a witness to the dreadful tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. She very well describes how a group of people, huddled in a building, amidst terror and panic eased their fears through Laughter Yoga. Laughing at a time of crisis may seem strange, but Laughter Yoga has the power to reduce stress almost instantaneously and lend a positive attitude to cope with even the worst kind of challenges in life.

My life has not been easy as I lost my son quite suddenly which left me devastated, and I also suffer from a chronic leg condition which hampers my mobility. But in spite of this crisis, I work as a part timer to support my big family. The only thing that makes me go is Laughter Yoga. It helps me cope with the difficult times.

On that fateful day when we were hit by the tsunami, I was working at the bread factory but it was fortunate that it did not collapse. Our building was still intact and about 346 people survived the onslaught of nature. It was a terrible night. We could not go home and were constantly battling the aftershocks and rising water levels. There was no way to find out anything about our family members and friends. All we could do was to wait for rescue and help. As nobody could sleep that night, I decided to start laughing and convince the others to do the same. I explained that it would help them feel better, especially in time of such grave crisis.

Initially diffident and unwilling, some people agreed to laugh. I explained how to do Laughter Yoga and we laughed and talked all night long. Laughter really relieved our feelings, and although many didn’t join us, they too felt a little better just by seeing us laugh.

Soon after the disaster, I visited India to attend Dr. Kataria’s teacher training course together with 47 other people from all over Japan. It was a profound experience to see how people most affected by disaster were ready to laugh and start new life. I’ve also opened a “Laughter Cafe” in my house to help spread the magic of laughter ha ha ha.

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