Tag Archives: smiling

What does laughter yoga add to mindfulness?

 

The short answer is lots.

Time and again, the feedback from participants after experiencing a session is they’ve never felt so present, so quickly.
It is extremely common for physical symptoms like headaches to disappear, for stress levels to drop, for energy levels to rise, for awareness to expand and consequently for people to experience an unexpected calm and serenity, all within fifteen or twenty minutes.

Whether the session is titled ‘Mindfulness’, ‘Gentle Laughing Mindfulness’ or simply ‘laughter yoga with Joe’, the core activities are the same. There are specific facial exercises combined with embodiment, breathing, moving, feeling, connecting. The delivery is light-hearted, flexible and spontaneous with ‘space to learn’ so participants can be aware of their own processes. This is an important aspect.
The cumulative effect is to activate people’s zest for life.

Why does this work?
The immediate answer is because it gets participants out of their heads.
Very quickly indeed it breaks them free of their endless thinking cycle. It moves their awareness into their fuller consciousness – their body, their breathing and their overall connection with self and others. When this is done as a repeating, deepening pattern, it becomes an endlessly beneficial practice.

A subtler answer is it works because of the difference between being aware and being aware with a smile. This is like the difference between a passive, observational meditation and a proactive, dynamic one. Both ‘work’, and both have their place.

The smile gives the experience a particular dynamic.

How long do the benefits last?
As with mindfulness itself, the more it is practiced, the better it ‘works’. Again, it is simple but not easy. The strong incentive is that even experienced practitioners feel so good so quickly.

What’s the best way to start?
Smile. Feel the smile. Be aware of the internal quality of the smile. Smile with your whole being, and be alert for any differences in how you feel and how others behave and react.

It might be the most enjoyable practice you ever do.

Do it now?

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What can I expect on a laughter yoga retreat?

 

‘Laughter yoga with Joe’ is about the journey back to joyfulness. We are all wherever we are on our own life curve, dealing with whatever we’re dealing with, experiencing whatever we’re experiencing.
Wherever we are is the perfect platform for our next step – and all we can ever do is take the next step, one at a time?

What if we can do this with lightness, joyfully? With zest for life?

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Strategically, spiritually, on a soul level we have a yearning to return home. Inside us, that warm, loving, kind part of us yearns to connect, to reach out and communicate warmly with our fellow humans and beyond. So often our history, our ‘story’, gets in our way and hampers us. Sometimes we’re afraid, afraid of our ‘shadow’ or just afraid.
What if we can just march straight through our ‘story’, enjoying the journey and so focused on the joyfulness that it provides us with the energy to become more joyful ourselves?

How can we do this? The secret lies in the present, experiencing the NOW.
Start here & now by dropping your shoulders, taking a deep breath, putting a small warm genuine smile on your face, and breathing out slowly while keeping that genuine smile alive.

‘Laughter yoga with Joe’ is a very NOW experience in which we use all the resources we have, often discovering we have many more than we previously realised.

On a Retreat, we laugh, sing, dance and play. We explore lightness and joyfulness. We breathe & relax, and are quiet & calm.
We have space and permission to be free and spontaneous. In a safe and permissive space, we allow and welcome all emotion.

In this warm, generous and spacious way we practice being present, in the NOW. This is where the magic happens.

Resources:
www.joehoare.co.uk

www.bristollaughterclub.com

Hawkwood College laughter yoga retreat

 

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Finding your place in the laughter yoga world

 

You’ve got the enthusiasm. You’ve done the training. What next?

Sometimes what follows is a scenario where you run one or three sessions and then you don’t quite know how to develop these further. Sometimes people come to a session, love it, and in spite of raving about it, they never return.
Sometimes they might not quite ‘get’ what it’s about. Sometimes they might think it’s ‘just’ a bit of fun but not really important, not comparable with ‘serious’ practices like….well, yoga?

This can be discouraging.

In my 14 years in the laughter yoga world, this is a scenario I’ve encountered many times. I also wrestled with it myself in the Bristol laughter workshops (www.bristollaughterclub.com) where on one occasion in the 13 years it’s been running, only 1 person turned up. After the initial scariness (on my part, I should add), we proceeded to have a very valuable hour and a half.
It was excellent coaching practice.

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Nowadays these sessions average over 20 participants, with lots of them coming back. The sessions always attract further interest and professional inquiries, from charity to blue chip. This is partly because there is a greater general awareness of and appreciation for all wellness and yoga practices, but also because I’ve developed my own style and built my own niche to maximise the value people get.
They ‘get’ the value.

I’ve also been in lots of other people’s sessions and have experienced successful styles that are completely different to my own. I’ve observed and felt that style itself simply doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s YOUR style. As you develop your own style, you will find your niche.

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In my experience, more often than not, this niche combines with other modalities & practices which is why you need to have the courage to be flexible, spontaneous and adaptable.

The laughter yoga world is expanding fast now because the whole wellness world is expanding fast. World-wide there is greater interest in being healthy & happy, and personal development practices are something that more and more people are prepared to devote time, energy and resources to.

It has become clear to me that we all have a niche. It is sometimes/often/usually not what we expect, but we all have one. Finding your niche and building your presence & impact, and hence rewards, is the subject of this webinar.

Time, science and general interest are all on our side. There are excellent resources on Facebook, twitter and Linkedin. I post articles regularly in the ‘about’ section on my own website.

We are moving with the tide of history. At the very least, do keep practicing?

Exclusive webinar, limited places: build your niche, presence, impact and rewards, 13th March, 6pm UK time

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Start. Laughing. Now.

 

Just, as they say, do it.

It’s good for your body, for your emotions, for your heart, for your health, for your mind, and even for world peace, as the Dalai Lama agreed with the founder of laughter yoga, Dr Kataria, recently.

Take a moment to reflect – how do you feel when you laugh? I pose this question to every group and the most common reply is ‘I feel better’.
What happens when we feel better? Life improves.
What’s the benefit when life improves? Potentially, every aspect of our life – health, relationships, effectiveness, and more.

Can we learn to laugh more? Emphatically YES. Watch how it was done at the recent Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine event.

In its simplest form, smile on the in-breath, chuckle on the out-breath. Its benefits include mood control ie we regulate out own mood better.
By doing this we are more emotionally intelligent and resilient, that is we are more in control of our own life and less controlled by external factors like stress, anxiety and anger.
We become more effective, even in the field of activism, as I wrote in Resurgence magazine

Because we are more in control of our mood, we communicate better and have better relationships at home and with colleagues. Life becomes more joyful.

We can all learn this. Here’s one way, on this next course.

Let’s all have a more joyful year, for ourselves, our family & friends, our colleagues, and the world at large?

www.joehoare.co.uk

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Enjoy the unenjoyable

 

A testing time is approaching for many of us. How can we best get through it?

Besides the relax/breathe/smile techniques, here are 3 you might not have used much before, if at all.

  1. Commit to enjoying. Before you leave your bed in the morning, affirm to yourself you’re going to have a good day, no matter what. At the very least, you start your day on the front foot, not the back. Your smiling practices help but beyond that, make a non-negotiable resolve to yourself that you’re going to have a good day. Do whatever you need to set that intention but give it the same kind of determination an Olympic gold-medalist would.
  2. Sacred space. At interval during the day, take time out for yourself. Joseph Campbell referred to this sacred space as perhaps the most important personal practice we have. It allows us to re-centre ourselves, which is vital when we feel under pressure. Leave the room, be somewhere else, but see it and use it as a safety valve.
  3. Imagine light. A successful no-nonsense self-made business-woman I knew was aware of the importance of working in a subtle as well as practical way. Before any presentation she’d do a visualization in which she’d fill the room with her favourite colour, which happened to be pink. One time someone came up to her after her presentation and commented ‘did you notice how everything looked a bit pink?’

Even if you just use this as a mental rehearsal exercise, it is surprisingly powerful.
It is also extremely easy to do as it only takes a second or so – longer if you like, but not necessarily.
It also works well in team settings and with meetings, by the way, because the net result is you build your resilience.

I guarantee if you use these tips your enjoyment increases.

Joehoare---front-Business-card---flatYou are also likely to find pleasure replaces dread, you become more relaxed and happier, and you connect better than you thought likely, or even possible.

You won’t be the first to have these experiences from using these tips.
Happy enjoyment.

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You are awesome – yes, you.

 

I was thinking awesome this morning.

I suddenly realised that two of the most awesome people I’ve known in my life were both almost completely uneducated, yet they both had a spark that people still remember. That spark was their ability to figure things out, be nobody’s fool and therefore highly perceptive.

In today’s parlance, they were creative, intuitive and authentic. They understood themselves, and therefore life, well enough to see to the heart of situations. Neither of them had high flying careers yet they excelled,  and impressed everyone who met them because they were so ‘real’.

If they could, why not us too?

Can we be more ‘real’? We’re already unique, creative individuals, so can we learn to expand our uniqueness?
Why might we want to?

One simple way to expand our uniqueness is to become more aware of the flow of life. Life is swirling and changing in & around us all the time, yet how aware of this are we? If we’re ‘in our heads’ the answer is always: not very.
As soon as we engage with our embodied consciousness, awareness floods in, stress and tension ease, mood improves, life becomes more enjoyable, we communicate better, and relationships and effectiveness improve.

How do we do this? A simple mantra is ‘feet, breathe, smile’.

When we put attention on our feet, especially the soles of our feet, we get out of our heads.
When we become aware of and focus on our breathing, we relax and calm down.
When we smile, we imbue our awareness with good-naturedness.

One of the cumulative effects is to deepen our connection with our knowing self, our intuition – including perceptiveness and ability to ‘figure things out’.

I observe people entering this state of embodied awareness, and every time they become more radiant and beautiful.
They become relaxed, empowered and confident.
Without fail, they know what to do next, what their next step is and how to take it.
They become aware they have the resources to do what needs doing.
They do it.
They activate their zest for life.

Joehoare---front-Business-card---flatThey become awesome in front of my eyes.

Get out of your head and go for full awareness.
Use the mantra and practice: ‘Feet, breathe, smile’.
Give it a go. Get more awesome.

Tell me how you get on.

Useful links
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‘Feet, breathe, smile’
Take your next step

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Beyond McMindfulness (hint: think ‘laughter practices’)

‘This makes me more present than anything else’, said the Maori homeopath, ‘more than my own meditation practice’

She was referring to the awareness practices she’d just experienced in a yogic laughter session at the Bristol laughter club.

blc logoIndividually at first, we explored awareness of feet, breath, hands, ears and so on.
We then explored them progressively and cumulatively.

Next, we explored how deeply we could maintain this awareness  while walking and moving.

Next, we took off our regular masks and added the quality of a soft face, ie a smile. We experienced the extra dimension the smile added.

Progressively we explored how there’s no limit to how deeply we can be aware, and how the smile deepens awareness.

Simple but not easy, to use Jon Kabat-Zinn’s expression.

The effect? Becoming more present, absolutely anchored in the present moment, connecting warmly with fellow human beings.
The quality of experience? Quiet, joyful contentment.

This simple exercise gets better the more we use it. ‘Gets better’ means becomes more effective. The more present we are, the better we can respond to the requirements of the current moment – with less stress, less anxiety, less frustration, more calmness, more peacefulness, more effectiveness.

McMindfulness does not deliver this. Mindfulness does. Yogic laughter practices do, par excellence.

Awakening the Laughing Buddha within

 

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When your ‘It’ hits the fan (Hide? Smile? Run away?)

At times, we all have ‘It’ in our lives, that uncomfortable, troublesome, inconvenient piece of life that disrupts our calm or harmony.

It usually involves emotion and therefore means feeling something we’d rather not – hence the uncomfortable, troublesome, inconvenient quality.
It can appear as stress, anxiety, anger, and make us ill.
It often makes us afraid.
We’re often afraid because we know we’ve got to do something we’d rather not – face our fear, speak our truth, accept something about ourselves we wish wasn’t true.

Face it. Feel it. Don’t flinch. Embrace it.

‘The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek’ – Joseph Campbell.

Every time I see someone do this, enter their cave and face their shadow, I see beautiful transformation occur.  I see the shedding of a bit more ‘story’, a growth in authenticity, an inspiring vulnerability. I see people get stronger by owning their ‘weakness’.
To do this, we need courage. It has to be more important to do this, to enter our cave, than to cower, flinch or run away – however enticing these false friends appear.

How do we find our courage?
We all have our own ways. My preparation includes the ancient insightful worldwide tradition of smiling. I put a genuine smile on my face, feel the inner warmth this generates, connect with my zest for life, and open myself to feeling whatever ‘It’ is. I feel it as deeply as possible.

‘It’ can be a wild ride, and having set off and started, ‘It’ might take you across some jagged unexpected inner terrain. Hang on. Hang in there. When you have a pause, take the time to breathe, smile and regroup. Smile and reach in for your stillness. Keep going till the ride is over.

Always remember: the purpose of ‘It’ is to bring about self-healing, an increase in kindness, compassion, authenticity and connection.
Also remember: it’s a never-ending journey.

Smiling helps. That’s why it’s such an ancient recommendation.

www.joehoare.co.uk
‘Awakening the Laughing Buddha within’

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Glastonbury festival: sex, drugs & laughter yoga

2015-06-25 12.51.01

As Tina Turner might have said: ‘what’s laughter yoga got to do with it?’

Well, as it turns out – everything!

Fortunately I had decided before going into the 200,000-strong melee that I was going to have a wonderful festival. I’m very glad I decided that. I had lots of opportunities to laugh in the face of disaster after disaster, and I took them all.

First though, the ‘good’ bits. 2015-06-28 10.53.22Doesn’t get much better than the Dalai Lama, tens of thousands saw & heard him, everyone loved his message of warm-heartedness, and managing to get this close was a result!
The essence of his message – practice compassion, to everyone, to all life, always. Practice warm-heartedness, and keep practicing – which is at the heart of my own laughter yoga practice (and boy, did I need to practice – more on that later on). And he of course is a big giggler, especially at himself – a warm, wonderful, enthusiastic example.

Secondly, my team – oh, they were outstanding. It’s always good but this year was the best by far. 2015-06-28 14.58.34 2015-06-28 14.41.12We were all present, engaged, enthusiastic and because we loved what we were doing, the crowd loved it too. Every day got better and the crowd got bigger. We got crazier, more spontaneous, more outrageous, and so did they. Laughter congas & laughter dragons every day.

Thirdly, the music of course. Lionel Richie, I love you, and I loved ‘dancing on the ceiling, with you. We all did. We2015-06-28 16.41.522015-06-27 20.27.38 all loved getting ‘Happy’ with Pharrell too. HUGE crowds.

 

Then there was all the quirky stuff, all the time, wherever you looked – like the tightrope-walking fiddle player? 2015-06-27 18.06.40The Mexican slow-motion bungee jump2015-06-24 21.38.40ers?

 

 

 

The fire show? 2015-06-24 22.09.13The fire?! 2015-06-24 22.43.33

 

 

 

rubbishA rubbish orchestra?

 

 

 

The face painting? 2015-06-27 17.49.10

After all this, what could possibly go wrong?

Hahahahaaaa!

 

1. Noisy neighbours / not much sleep – every night, another opportunity to use silent laughter practices and extend warm-hearedtness & compassion. First night, excited rowdiness. Second night, pre-dawn rowdiness. Third night, all night rowdiness. Fourth night, teenage rowdiness. Thank you for allowing me to develop my practices so much. I lay in bed, smiled, chuckled to myself, and silently extended wamth to my revelling neighbours.

2. Rain. My tent ended up on a lake – and there were three little holes in the groundsheet, so there was a little lake inside too. Lots of Edward de Bono (lateral thinking) and laughter yoga skills needed here.

3. My glasses. My new £200 glasses. Collected on Monday, lost on Thursday…….breathe, relax, smile – and report to Lost & Found, giving all my contact details..

The final very best bit, my highlight even above the Dalai Lama was my wallet.

I lost my wallet – cash, cards, lots of ID and more.

However, before I even knew I’d lost it, it was returned to me?!
I was mid-conversation when my phone rang. I saw a number I didn’t know, said to my friend ‘this call is important, I have to take it’, and the voice the other end of the line said, ‘you don’t know me, but I’ve got your wallet’. I checked my pocket, and yes, it wasn’t there! Hahahahaaaaaaa! Two angels in human form had found it where I’d been sitting a few moments before, rung into Lost & Found, got my phone number from them (you see – if I hadn’t lost my glasses, they wouldn’t have had my number?!), and promptly contacted me.
My £200 lost glasses ended up saving me £000’s of stress & hassle – and gave me my most heartfelt laugh of the festival.

Oh, by the way, the festival was all about laughter yoga, not sex & drugs at all.

2015-06-28 10.37.08

www.joehoare.co.uk
www.bristollaughterclub.com

 

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7 tips for more happiness: the smiling mindset

It’s all in the smile

Whenever possible, whatever you’re doing, do it with a smile. This simple-but-not-easy practice is the antidote to over-seriousness. Who needs over-seriousness? It is not only a joy-killer, it hampers our communication, how we connect with others and limits our effectiveness. It tends to creep up on us, and makes us stressed, anxious and even depressed. If nothing else, over-seriousness limits our enjoyment, whether at work, home and in life.
Besides Eeyores, who consciously chooses not to enjoy their life?

Why smile more?

When we develop a smiling mindset, we enjoy life more. We find more enjoyment everywhere – at our desk, at our computer, with colleagues, while travelling, even in meetings. This simple benefit that we enjoy life more is good enough reason for many people to develop their smiling mindset and smile more.

In this vein, beware of Botox! When we limit our facial expressiveness with anti-wrinkle treatments, we might also be limiting our happiness.
Smiling improves our mood, eases our stress, and makes us happier. It is also good for our health as it tends to lower our blood pressure. We think, focus and concentrate better. The list of benefits goes on and on.

‘On the first day I woke up with a headache with general cold symptoms and was reluctant to start. Even though I felt ridiculous, I still smiled and by the end was genuinely laughing; it was a great start to the day and I actually made it to my lecture. It’s amazing how such a simple task can have a positive effect on your day. By the end of the week I did feel slightly happier and found that any task I was going to do post exercise became easier. I was able to write up lecture notes quicker and found it helped clear my mind and thus, improved my cognitive ability.’

The smiling mindset – smile with your eyes

While it is true that smiling is contagious, so are good vibes. The smiling mindset is an attitude and it can be learnt. More importantly, it can be felt, and so it flows naturally into a mood and energetic communication. The key to this attitude is to soften the muscles around our eyes (orbicularis occuli), the muscles that we use in a genuine (‘Duchenne’) smile. When we relax these muscles our whole face softens, we promote facial expressiveness and so communicate more authentically, and we naturally & genuinely build positive emotions in ourselves and others.

It is a simple yet profound practice, like mindfulness. It is a natural antidote to stress, anxiety and more, also like mindfulness. It is also inherently enjoyable.

Activate yours

You can activate yours while sitting, running, walking, driving, waiting – wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. Use the power of your mind. Think ‘smile’ to yourself. Loosen up your body, and send it ‘relax’ messages. Start to move and swing your arms. Get up and stretch. Be as physical as you can. The saying from Dr Kataria and laughter yoga is ‘motion creates emotion’ so use all the resources available to you, and this includes your body.

While doing all this, smile. In particular, feel the quality of your smile from the inside out, your inner smile. Keep your face soft. Twinkle. Allow any feelings of good-natured enjoyment to arise, and welcome them. Allow all feelings to arise, be aware/mindful of them and welcome them – just keep the inner smile attitude going.

Make this a daily practice. Do it several times a day. Do it as often as possible. Keep practicing, diligently. This can change your life.

Smile:)

www.joehoare.co.uk

 

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