I am in a room with three people I have never met. I haven't had a drink or smoked anything weird. No-one has told a joke or said anything funny. I have very definitely stepped out of my comfort zone and yet I am laughing. I am laughing hard and I know I am laughing authentically. The more they laugh, the more I laugh and it's making me feel good.
What started off as a new year resolution, to laugh more with my children has become something more. My plan was to step often and purposefully away from exasperated mum mode, and into joyful inner child mode. I wanted to join my children in their hilarity and not simply observe. The intention was there and I was making the effort when I came across the idea of laughter yoga, or therapeutic laughter. Not one to do things by halves it drew me in and I wanted to find out more. Could I use this not only for my wee family but for workshops that I facilitate too.
And so here I am, laughing with these lovely strangers. The joyous Jo Bluett, who is running our training says that laughter is simply "breathing with joy", I love this and it stays with me. We continue to laugh and to meditate all weekend. It's a strange thing to laugh so much and so hard and by Sunday I feel emotionally drained and a little vulnerable.
I pick up my children on the way home and I'm nervous I'm going to be too exhausted to manage their endless energy. But they make me laugh in the car almost immedietly and I am aware that my laughter is coming easily and with that, they laugh more. They are curious about the training and so I show them some of the exercises, and there again is more laughter. I am thinking of Jo's breathing with joy comment and I am warm and fuzzy and content. It feels good. That's what laughter does, it makes us feel good and it makes us feel connected. Yet in life we don't laugh enough to really get the health benefits that laughing brings. Some people don't laugh for days, even weeks, possibly months.
The idea of laughter yoga is to combine laughter and deep breathing to enable us to laugh in a sustained way to ensure we reap those big beautiful benefits. Benefits such as raised endorphins making us feel good, benefits such as social connectedness, laughing together brings us together. And then there is the joy, just feeling the joy of laughter is a truly wonderful thing.
And so now my training is complete and I am officially a laughter leader, I plan to be laughing more, not just with my children and my friends but with the groups that i work with. And I'm hoping that this warm, fuzzy, content feeling will be a very regular thing : )