PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Worry: Lifted, Healed, Gone, Banished… in One Hour!

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PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Worry:

Lifted, Healed, Gone, Banished…

in One Hour!

 

The scene is the Inner Warriors Yoga studio in Esquimalt, a suburb of Victoria, BC, Canada.

 

It is Spring of 2014.

 

Half a dozen military folks from the nearby naval base, some with PTSD, are doing Laughter Yoga.

 

My name is Matti Anttila and as a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher, I am leading this session. Everyone seems to be having fun.

 

Kim, who is running a six week program for critical task personnel to help relieve PTSD had asked me to come in and lead a Laughter Yoga class for an hour as part of her program.

 

The “Invisibly Wounded”

 

She cautioned me to be a little slower and not be too dramatic in my movements so as not to trigger anything.

 

I know little about PTSD, just what I have read and how it can make life a living hell for those who have served the country and now are the “invisibly wounded.”

 

Kim is trying to make a difference in their lives and I am honoured to be asked to assist.

 

I am moved by how willing everyone is to jump in do these somewhat silly and crazy looking laughter exercises.

 

How Laughter Yoga Was Born

 

Laughter Yoga is the brainchild of an Indian medical doctor, Dr. Madan Kataria. He was preparing a paper on “Laughter is the Best Medicine” and found a wealth of scientific studies showing it had many health benefits.

 

So, he said if this is so good, why don’t we do it. In 1995, he along with four others started laughing a park in Mumbai, India. From that humble beginning, Laughter Yoga has grown to thousands of Laughter Yoga clubs not only in India, but around the world.

 

Laughter Yoga Transforms Lives

 

I took my training to be certified as a teacher in the summer of 2009 with Dr. Kataria.

 

Since then, my life has been transformed. My inner joy became more and more accessible and I have seen the same happen for countless others who have come to our club in Victoria over the intervening years.

 

In fact, Laughter Yoga caused me to deepen my connection to joy by writing a manual on joy. (More on that manual at the bottom of this letter)

 

PTSD Folks “Get” Laughter Yoga

 

As we continue our Laughter Yoga session, I can see to my delight that they “get it.” They are having fun like little kids.

 

We do the “Oh no, I made a mistake laughter.” This is where we release the mistake, our judgements about how bad we are for making a mistake, learn from it and move on.

 

We do “Red Light, Green Light” pretending to get stuck at red lights and laughing about it.

 

We pretend to hear a joke on our pretend cell phones, laugh at it and share it with others.

 

Grounding Sounding

 

A host of other exercises follows and then a laughter meditation and what I call “Grounding Sounding.”

 

This is a short series of sounds that allows integration of some of the bodily learning and unlearning and prepares us for re-entering the “regular” world after our child-like playfulness session.

 

After almost an hour of laughing, we sit up in a circle, I ask: “Questions, Comments, observations?”

 

Happy…and Confused!

 

One guy share how he never lets on, even to his family, how much stress and anxiety he is living with every moment. He puts on a brave face.

 

Now, after just one hour of Laughter Yoga, he tells us he feels happy for the first time he can remember. “And I’m confused.”

 

I’m not sure I understand what he means by being confused about feeling happiness. But I don’t have a chance to ask.

 

The gal next to him says: “I know exactly what you mean. I’m happy for the first time and I’m confused too.”

 

I knew how Laughter Yoga had made a positive difference in my own life and in the lives of other Laughter Yoga club members.

 

I was not prepared to see how quickly it could change the state of some of those who have the scourge of PTSD.

 

Kim followed up with another six week session in the fall of 2014 and again, we had positive results with the one hour Laughter Yoga session.

 

“If this is so good, why don’t we do it?”

 

That phrase from my Laughter Guru, Dr. Kataria bounces around in my head. He started with five people laughing in a park and it has created a world wide movement.

 

In fact, his mission has grown to “World Peace Through Laughter.” I am honoured and feel very much privileged to play my small part.

 

Pilot Program to Relieve PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, Worry, Fear and Stress

 

Now, Dr. Kataria’s inspiration leads me to create a pilot program to use Laughter Yoga to relieve PTSD. This program is for those who Kim calls “Critical Task” workers.

 

For “Critical Task” Workers

 

These could include military with PTSD, but also ambulance, fire and police, who also experience their share of trauma.

 

The program starts:

 

Thursday, February 12th for 6 weeks through March 19th.

 

If you know of someone who has PTSD, suffers from anxiety, depression, worry, fear and/or stress, let them know. Please. Pass this information on to them.

 

Limited Space: Pre-register

 

There is limited space. It is a small yoga studio, after all. So, pre-registration is necessary.

 

No Set Fee. Donations Accepted.

 

As this is a pilot program, there is no set fee. We will accept donations to help with our costs, but, and this is important:

Don’t let money hold you back from your healing.

If you are ready to sign up, please email Kim directly innerwarriors@gmail.com

 

Another Success Story

 

Jane (not her real name) who healed a long standing case of PTSD from childhood sexual abuse.

“…Michael Cortina, director of outpatient services at the Regional Mental Health Center in Merrillville, Indiana, shows that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can be healed with laughter. He used it successfully to help Jane who is in her 30s…”It is absolutely revolutionary, and eliminates the negative effect and emotional distress of that trauma in one session”, said Cortina. – from Laughter Yoga International website article

“One Session Eliminated the Negative Effect and Emotional Distress of That Trauma”

“…Jane…constantly suffered from nightmares. Every night before she went to sleep, she checked all the closets, locked every door and made sure a hammer and can of mace were near her bed, giving her the peace of mind to doze off. But sleep only led to more nightmares. ‘I was basically living in my own personal hell,’ she said. As a child no therapy helped her till later in life when she went to Cortina and tried his therapy.”

Source article: http://www.laughteryoga.org/english/news/news_details/523

 

 

Research Sources

 

Do you need to do more research? Here are some sources for you.

 

How does Laughter Yoga work? https://victorialaughteryogaclub.wordpress.com/

 

Testimonial from a Vet:

Laughter Yoga and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

http://www.laughteryoga.org/english/laughteryoga/details/216

 

 

More links:

 

Can Laughter Help Veterans and PTSD?
http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/can-laughter-help-veterans-and-ptsd

 

How I Kicked Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder And Reclaimed My (True) Laugh

http://www.laughsheal.com/blog/ptsd-laughter-guest-post-michele-rosenthal/

Why Laughter Is Good For Mental Health, Breaks Cycle Of Psychological Negativity
http://www.laughteronlineuniversity.com/laughter-good-mental-health/

 

The Connection between Laughter, Humor, and Good Health

http://www2.ca.uky.edu/HES/FCS/factshts/hsw-caw-807.pdf

 

Benefits of Humor

http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/humor/benefits-humor

 

 

Need More info?

 

Need more info? We can talk by phone, Skype, Google Hangouts (I’m still learning this one). Email to arrange a time that’s convenient for you. mailto: 88matti@gmail.com

 

If you ready to sign up, please email Kim directly innerwarriors@gmail.com

If you are not yet ready, I invite you to keep this information handy. When this program is complete, we are expecting to start another session later.

Question: “If you had success in one session, why is it necessary to have six sessions?”

Answer: Keep in mind that, while we had participants who got benefits, we did not do follow up on how lasting the benefits may or may not have been. This pilot program should address that and allow for follow up and feedback.

Further, we will use other modalities, tools and techniques over the six week period. These should help to support and “anchor” the long term benefits.

Love and Laughter,

 

 

Matti Anttila

Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher

Author of:

The Zen of Joy. How to Rewire Your Brain for Happiness and Success. http://zenofjoy.com/

 

 

 

P.S.

 

Pilot Program to Relieve PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, Worry, Fear and Stress

Thursday, February 12th for 6 weeks through March 19th.

 

Limited Space: Pre-register

 

No Set Fee. Donations Accepted.

 

Don’t let money hold you back from your healing.

If you are ready to sign up, please email Kim directly innerwarriors@gmail.com

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