Tag Archives: pain

Embodiement & unexpected pain relief in laughter yoga

 

We never know how someone will respond to a session and what benefits they will experience.

‘I don’t have my shoulder pain anymore!’

My approach to laughter yoga ( #laughteryogawithJoe ) usually starts with an extended gentle physical loosening up & embodiment session.

We do this as a fundamental part of the practice to be enjoyed and savoured, not as an introduction to be hurried through.

Sometimes the majority of the session is taken up with loosening, and therefore experiencing the body /mind connection of mind/body ‘medicine’.

My original intention behind this approach was to help participants experience relief from over-thinking, and potentially to help establish new neural pathways to trigger movement as an antidote. Freedom from over-thinking is a core stress-buster & mindfulness practice and so helps induce calm and inner peacefulness.

 

Key practice: move your body. Move your body gently. Focus on gentle movement for & with your shoulders.

 

At one such session for the Macmillan charity we did a longer-than-usual gentle loosening up and also a lot of gentle arm-swinging & shoulder-tension release.
Afterwards, one person came up to me and told me their shoulder pain had gone.
They told me they’d experienced this condition for many years, and yet after 30 minutes of this gentle laughter yoga loosening, the pain had gone. They had visited many specialists over the years, and yet what had released it for them was this very gentle extended loosening-up.

‘I don’t have my shoulder pain anymore’

She was astonished and delighted.

I was delighted and intrigued. I reckoned this must be a happy one-off.

 

‘My yoga and pilates give me a headache. This doesn’t.’

Last week at after a similar but shorter session, someone came up to me and told me that their yoga and pilates sessions are generally energetic with a lot of tensing and straining, and they always get a headache.
Our session had been gentle and releasing while still being very energetic, and they told me it was the first time they had exercised yogically without getting a headache.

‘My yoga and pilates give me a headache. This doesn’t.’

 

Advanced practice: move vigorously but gently, as gently as you can.

 

‘I woke up for 1st time without a clicky neck.’

Even more recently at the International Federation of Aromatherapists’ conference, someone made a point of commenting after the session how relaxed they felt.
The following day they reported their neck had stopped being clicky.

‘I woke up for the first time without a clicky neck.’

They, like me, were astonished and delighted.

 

Complete practice (short form): relax, breathe, smile, feel.

 

What can we learn from this?

Evidently, the path to inner peace brings unexpected, important and welcome benefits!

Although the ultimate aim of laughter yoga is ‘inner’ & ‘outer’ peace, there are many benefits to be experienced along the way.
Relief from pain is an enormous benefit. It automatically releases stress & tension, helps us be more ‘in the moment’ aka mindful, and therefore happier and more at peace.

The key is practice.

Read the book.

Take an online course

Train

Go on Retreat

Relax and enjoy. I’d love to hear any experiences you have had. And if you know anyone who might like to read this too, please share it?

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‘Help! I’m feeling overwhelmed’ – insights from Laughter yoga

 

Laughter yoga is not some quirky insubstantial time-filling activity. Laughter yoga helps real people with real life. The insights in nls: natural laughter skills provide a robust practical framework for navigating us through a crisis.

Winston Churchill commented ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going’.
To help do this, here are 7 core nls: natural laughter skills steps.

  1. just hang in there
  2. keep breathing
  3. set tiny wellness targets (‘for the next 5 minutes I’ll relax, breathe & smile’)
  4. within yourself, allow the possibility of change (‘resistance is futile’ … and it has the potential to turn pain into suffering?)
  5. Make a point for 5 minutes at a time, once or thrice a day, appreciating really ‘tiny’ normally insignificant things – fingernails, the fact that bones mend, the texture of your skin, the colour of your walls etc)
  6. Remember that with all you know and all you already do, clarity is on its way. You just have a bit of turbulence to get through
  7. The universe never puts more on our plate than we can handle

This framework is even more effective when these steps are done with a smile. The act of intentional willing smiling relaxes our psyche and opens us to the possibility of change. With practice, the act of intentional willing smiling generates a palpable internal sensation, a warmth, softening and gentleness we can feel. This quality

  • makes it easier to endure the painful moment
  • reduces inner resistance
  • and facilitates inner change.

All that you need do with this intentional willing smiling practice is keep practicing, as in ‘Awakening the Laughing Buddha within’.
As John F Kennedy remarked ‘The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining’, and the more we integrate this smiling practice into our daily life, the better we are able to deal with life’s inevitable turbulence. We are developing our resilience, and using as many of our own resources as possible – physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual.

Do these steps really help?
Here is a recent comment ‘I feel anyone going through change and feeling overwhelmed will benefit from the wisdom of these words. I read them every day and they ground and encourage me, as well as reassuring me that I am doing enough.’

Just keep practicing your intentional willing smiling.

www,joehoare.co.uk

next workshop ‘Joy. More Joy

next webinar – ‘add mindfulness to your laughter yoga’

next course ‘Laughter Facilitation Skills’

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Happiness tips, vol 2, part 1. Want to feel the joy? Learn to feel.

 

It’s all about feeling.

Laughter yoga helps us feel. Laughter yoga helps us feel happier, even when it hurts.

Sometimes, though, there is an expectation that laughter yoga will make us feel happier instantly. After all, the eminent psychologist William James observed ‘We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh.’

Time and again, I have found his observation to be true – with a caution. Sometimes we have uncomfortable feelings we have not acknowledged. Sometimes they need freedom and to be released. This cannot happen without being prepared to feel the uncomfortableness.
Sometimes this hurts.

How does laughter yoga help?

‘Remember to breathe’ is advice we’ve probably all heard numerous times.
In laughter yoga, it becomes ‘remember to laugh’.

Because laughter practices are life-enhancing and energise our zest for life , they generate a cushion to help us through our uncomfortable feelings. They can help us ride any pain associated with our uncomfortable feelings.
After all, a laugh is simply a form of breath.

Like many practices, these are simple but not easy. The knack is to keep going. That’s where the benefits are.

There is a difference between experiencing this in a group or as a personal practice.
When running groups and workshops, we have to be alert and allow people space to experience their own feelings. This involves well-developed group and facilitation skills.

As a personal practice, we have to be alert to any additional resources we need. Whatever additional resources we need, the laughter yoga personal practices help.

So laughter yoga can help provide us with the resources we need to deal with the feelings it reveals.

Simple, but not easy.

Start practicing now?
Breathe in, hold your breath for 3 seconds, smile, and exhale with a good-natured chuckle.
Repeat at least 3 times.

Keep at it.

Useful links include:

Practices (book/audio)

zest for life

laughter yoga with Joe

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Connection – the joy and vulnerability of love.

Mariella Frostrup wrote recently that in her time as agony aunt, the same theme is as prevalent now as it was when she started – loneliness and connection. Although we appear to be separate, this separation is an illusion. It is a sufficiently powerful and seductive illusion that our ego, our personality-construct, can be lured into believing it is real and therefore create a reality in which it becomes true. We become arsey, brittle, sharp, full of ourselves when inside we’re crying out for help, for connection.

We create a self-fulfilling prison in which our love, our joy, our freedom, our spirit, all languish and suffer, desperate to be given the oxygen of love and connection but trapped within layers of self-created separation. It’s a freezing of the heart – inside, it’s warm, pulsing, loving, waiting and wanting to connect, but around it are layers of armoured prickly ice.

What does it take to thaw this ice?

The answer, of course, is love.

Love is a combination of joy and vulnerability. Love is the most vulnerable emotion because you can’t experience joy, full deep joy, without being fully deeply open. And when you’re fully open, you also expose your vulnerabilities. And that requires courage.

I used to think that my vulnerabilities were shameful, a sign of weakness, and therefore deeply unattractive – repulsive even. I used to think that if I showed that I could cry like a little boy, be small and pathetic, be hurting, somehow that meant I was unworthy of proper loving. I’d put on a brave face – ‘No, I’m fine, I’m ok’ – while inside I was crying. It took me many years and many tears to realise that not only was I not doing myself any favours, I wasn’t bringing and offering my whole heart to love.

To my surprise, I found that when I had the courage to express my own vulnerabilities, something warm got touched in the other person – and if it didn’t, the worst that happened was I experienced pain and shame. And pain and shame are just feelings, and like all feelings, they pass. They are simply clouds in the sky of love, and love’s sunshine burns them off.

There is a beauty and a self-generated strength in vulnerability. This cannot be known until experienced, but vulnerability has magic in it. If the person you share your vulnerability with is ready, it is perhaps the most effective heart-thawer possible. The sheer rawness of your vulnerability can give their heart and soul a lifeline, a way through their layers of armoured prickly ice.

There is, of course, no guarantee. There is never a guarantee. But until you’re prepared to risk all, reveal all, share all, how might the person you love get enough strength and trust to break free from their prison? To experience the deepest truth about love – that the more you give, the more you receive?

For this is the secret, the kernel of love – it doesn’t ‘take’, you don’t ‘lose’, there is no ‘price’. The secret is that the more you give the more you receive.

How to reach this place of courage and vulnerability? That is the heart of the next blog.

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It’s all about the love – but why?

I got drawn into a love thread last night, love, sex, lust, desire, bliss, and it’s still rattling around my consciousness. I’ve been in love almost all my adult life so I’ve known pain, grief, heartbreak, despair, lust, desire, pleasure, intimacy, surrender, ecstasy, connection. I’ve known the freshness of that first moment of new bloom, the rosebud of potentiality, the will it/won’t it, the excitement, the speeding up of the heart, the breathlessness. I’ve known the abrupt intrusion of reality, the bubble bursting, that instant transition from a some-thing to a no-thing, even when the some-thing was hot connecting delight. Suddenly a new moment of awareness breaks, the picture changes, and that perfect thing is over – because as it was, it was perfect. In its moments of existence, it was a perfect expression, a perfect communication, a launch into the unknown which just happened to have a surprisingly sudden end. Yet as it was, it was perfect, a soul was touched, and maybe deep life came alive once again. It remembered.
I’ve known the transition from intense beginnings to the plateau of the still apparently flawless loving-known. I’ve seen those first cracks appear, have beaten myself up for no longer being flawless, have sailed on and off the rocks, have been smashed hard and repeatedly and ultimately obliterated. Shredded. Pulverised. Blown into a mass of tiny sobbing hurting pieces.
And I’ve always licked my wounds, picked myself up, and tentatively at first but with increasing focus got back up, and re-entered the fray without fear.
Why?
Because love is the journey home. Love, so many things to so many people, but it brings an aliveness like no other.
Why?
When we love, we connect. When we love, we surrender our self and for those moments, which might last fleetingly or lingeringly, something else flows through us. We connect with something larger than our self. Infinitely larger than our self.
The delusion of sex is that it’s just a pleasure that passes. But it can remind us of something larger, it can prepare us for an adventure into the heart, where there’s pain galore but also ecstasy and delight. And in the same way that every ‘Om’ is connected with every other ‘Om’, including the big one, when we connect with our heart, we also Connect. With or without awareness, we connect with that creative dynamic loving mysterious impulse that underlies all life. Our own small heart renews its connection with every other heart of which we are all part too.
We remember. It’s the journey home.
That’s why it’s all about the love. For me. Love.

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