Saturday morning 11am. I have just spent the better part of an hour laughing. And wow, does it feel great.
It is spring of 2009 and having been recently certified as a Laughter Yoga Leader, I lead these sessions of 5-15 like minded folks who also love to laugh.
There are smiles and hugs aplenty after the session and we all feel good…or great.
“What a great way to start the weekend” is what I am thinking as I bound down the stairs ready to face the day, get some shopping done and prepare for a Saturday evening.
Sunday morning rolls around and I don’t feel so great anymore. Truth be told, I am angry. What the…?
This goes on for weeks.
Fast forward to July 2009 and I am on the southern coast of Finland with a couple of dozen other Laughter Yoga Leaders from my home country of Suomi (Finnish for Finland) and some Leaders from Norway, Belgium, Germany and Croatia.
This is heaven. We get up early for 7 am meditation. (Hey, it’s early for me. In fact, I am late a couple of times.) The rest of the day is spent in laughing, learning and laughing some more.
Not only that, but there is a wood fired sauna by the ocean so I can indulge my Finnish-ness and jump in the water after being properly heated up. Paradise for a Finn-Boy.
It is here where I learn what was going on when I felt anger on the Sundays following a Saturday morning Laughter Yoga session.
Dr. Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Yoga and our trainer during the week, explained it.
In India, he tells me, when there is a death, the family grieves openly. There is lots of crying, wailing and openly releasing the pain of losing a family member.
In our western society, not so much. (Perhaps this is partly what Gandhi meant when he responded to the question of what he thought of western civilization. His answer? “I think it would be a good idea.”)
Instead, we tend to hold on to our emotions and trap them. And where we trap them is in the diaphragm!
When I laughed for an hour on Saturday mornings, I started a process of releasing trapped emotions by laughing and moving the diaphragm rather dramatically for an hour.
Eventually I no longer got angry the next day after a Laughter Yoga session.
It is as if, a layer of pain had been released.
So, while Laughter Yoga does feel great as it releases the “feel good” hormones like the endorphins, it also served the function of peeling a layer of the “pain onion” and releasing it.
In the process of doing that, I re-felt the emotion around that pain. That pain showed up as anger.
So the purpose is not so much to feel good as to “peel the onion” of what Eckhart Tolle calls the “pain body.”
Fortunately, I now have extra tools and techniques to continue peeling more layers of the onion. Laughing is one. Smiling is another. (I just reminded myself to smile while I write this.)
In fact, Laughter Yoga has led me to deepen my study of the human condition and I wrote down the lessons in my book The Zen of Joy. How to Rewire Your Brain for Happiness and Success.
It contains 24 protocols or practices that take only minutes a day and work together to peel those layers from the pain body and reach for higher levels of what is termed “The Happiness Set Point.”
Smiling is one of them. You have easy access to this at any time. Here is a simple way to do it. Take a pen and put is sideways in the mouth. Notice what happens when the facial muscles form a smile around the pen.
Here is more on the book: http://zenofjoy.com/
Love and Laughter,
Comment from Jeffrey Briar, Laughter Yoga Master Teacher extraordinaire
Thank you Matti.
In the Landmark Education (which Madan also attended) it was referred to as a ?fundamental break in Being? ? that traumatic moment when we experienced it was not okay to simply BE (due to a scary emotion) and the way we reacted was by stopping ourself from breathing (and thus stopping ourself from feeling).? (This likely occurred within a few days of birth, possibly even prior to being born.)
Ever since that first, fundamental, lesson in Stopping our Emotions, we inhibit uncomfortable emotional expression by limiting the breath (internally seizing the diaphragm).? And as you said, when we stimulate that dear old diaphragm (from nice safe laughter), the old suppressed emotions may get stirred up (to be released). ?Hence, after laughing we may feel anger, fear, sadness, etc.
Not to worry – it?s just Emotional Energy being Set Free!
Enjoy the adventure,
Director, The Laughter Yoga Institute?? www.LYInstitute.org
Phone/fax: (949) 376-1939?? Mobilephone: (949) 315-5801?? Email:? JBriar@LYInstitute.org