Sunday August 3, 2008
The power of laughter
SUNDAY WITH T.SELVA
ALL of us seek for happiness in our life and one of the most powerful form of joy is laughter.
This hilarity is part of our body system but the sad part of it is that many of us are ignorant of it and instead we frown more than we laugh daily.
Often we hear people complaining of having worries, tensed muscles, void in their heart or having a heavy heart, angry, unhappy and other wellbeing issues not realising that a jolly good laugh can ease these problems.
Laughter is cheap and easily available within us and is a form of energy of which the more of it is spent the more of it remains.
We laugh or smile (smile is regarded as silent laughter) at some point of time in a day and often we find that it is not easy to pinpoint what exactly provoked the funny sensation but we feel good about it.
Our forefathers knew its secrets and the beneficial effects of a belly laugh and from early days laughter has been recognised as having healing qualities for our body, mind, spirit and wellbeing.
Many people are unaware that our daily life is governed by various forces and one of it is the way the corners of our mouth turn.
According to a medical research, which measured extensively the movements we make on our face and also our entire body when we smile and when we laugh is that all 600 muscles in our body play some form of “internal exercise” involving internal organs.
During my recent trip to India, I was moved by a unique wave for happy living that has hit the country where laughter is promoted as a technique to remove stress and promote joyful living.
Called as the Laughter Yoga, it combines laughter exercises with yoga breathing which brings more oxygen to the body and brain making one feel more energetic and healthy.
According to its followers, is that the concept is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter.
One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits and it is safe, easy and scientifically proven.
The laughter technique was developed by Indian physician Dr Madan Kataria who established the first laughter club in 1995 in Mumbai and currently there are over 6,000 laughter clubs in 60 countries.
Club members say it is bringing joyful experience to many people.
According to them, a joyful belly laugh can exercise thoroughly the muscles, nerves and
organs of the main torso.
And if you were able to sustain a belly-laugh for an 30 minutes or more, you could laugh off as many as 500 calories!
The laughter group say that while we laugh, our whole body is exercised and after we finish laughing, our whole body begins to “lighten up” and we relax tensed muscle, reduce stress in the nerves, massage the lungs, restore a full and flowing breathing pattern and gently expand our circulation once more.
The exercise basically involves physically oriented technique using a blend of playful, empowering and otherwise “tension-releasing” simple laughter workout.
The movements incorporate gentle yoga-breathing and stretching exercises, rhythmic clapping and chanting of Ho Ho Ha Ha Ha and in unison a simulated laughter turns into real laughter. A typical session lasts about 20 to 30 minutes.
Currently, India has a television programme on Sundays where people are picked randomly in public and if they are able to laugh happily for five minutes, they get a chance to win cash prizes.
Our laughter often remains a mystery and I have found that one of the joyous moments for anyone is being in the company of infants because they smile when asleep or while awake.
The cheerfulness the child displays is unexplainable but it is infectious and it can bring about healing harmony when we come in contact with the baby.
Today laughter has been recognised as a legitimate form of therapy as people seek for it as an escape or diversion.
While we seek for fun from outside sources, individuals should be made to understand that we have the ability to see the lighter side of things in our everyday life.
This is vital because it enables us to remain cheerful and happy always.
People should remember that we don’t stop laughing because we grow old but we grow old because we stop laughing.
I would like to conclude with a quote from American entertainer Victor Borge that laughter helps to build bridges and: “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people”.
T. Selva, The Star Sunday Metro editor, feels that laughter is an excellent form of language which convey messages without spoken words.
Benefits of laughter
- Eases depression and insomnia
- Reduces tension and stress
- Promotes relaxation
- Increases oxygen level in blood and enhances energy
- Removes boredom and anxiety
- Attracts more friends
- Increases joy
- Improves bonding
- Controls high blood pressure
- Create happy cells
- Discharge nervous energy
Activities that can create humour
- Sharing a joke
- Going for a party
- Reading comics
- Watching a comedy
- Viewing a hilarious movie
- Talking to humorists
- Being in the company of funny people
- Attending happy occasions like wedding, birthday and anniversary celebrations