What’s joy got to do with it?

Just over 11 months ago I started interviewing people about joy.

I ask 2 basic questions:

  • what is joy to you? What does it mean to you?
  • How important is it to you?

On facebook (@laughteryogawithjoe) these have been viewed 48,027 times.

They are also on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/joehoare27.

I have asked many people from the laughter yoga community and many other wellbeing and spiritual pioneers including:

‘Extreme Pilgim’ Peter Owen Jones https://youtu.be/u_-5jnTYBFY

‘Peace Pilgrim’ Satish Kumar https://youtu.be/TNiMPnFRhbY

‘Spiritual Whisperer’ William Bloom https://youtu.be/tGUoYEOxTX4

‘Kindness’ author Dr David Hamilton PhD https://youtu.be/j4yMbokLiL4

‘Laughter Yoga Guru’ Dr Madan Kataria https://youtu.be/IpA2MxVvkx4

One answer in common is joy is an inside job.

I hope their experiences inspire you to look inside.

www.joehoare.co.uk

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Why make laughter yoga joyous?

Here is a case for making laughter yoga joyous.

As we probably all know and remember, the benefits of laughter come from the act of laughter itself.

However, according to the 2013 report from the European Pain Federation Congress, increased pain tolerance is experienced through ‘real’ (Duchenne) delight when the laughter ‘comes from the heart’ (the link is ‘additional resources’ below).

The Norman Cousins ‘Anatomy of an Illness’ experience is based on the genuine hearty laughter he practised and experienced during his recovery.

In my own experience people get more out of their laughter yoga when it is authentic and heart-felt because this makes their laughter real and funny.

In my own life I find my laughter yoga effective because at some point it becomes joyous and genuinely funny. (Nowadays and as a result of practice I find ‘at some point’ can be instant.)

My approach (MBS – Move, Breathe, Smile) is based on feeling the experience. This sounds simple but like all simple practices (for example, sitting and breathing) it has depth and when we explore deeply we find our edges. This is inherently challenging and uncomfortable and is why we shy away from our inner awareness.

However, ‘the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek’ (Joseph Campbell).

When we become aware of inner stirrings, the messages from our inner being, we have choices. We can either ignore them or listen to them or listen to them and take action. When we decide to take action we need resources and if we are smart, we use all the resources available to us. We might increase them and practise using them until we reach the point when we are ready to enter the cave and find the treasure.

For some of us the treasure in the cave is joy.

When we find it, the alchemy starts. Our life becomes richer, deeper and fuller. We become more skilled at transforming experiences into joy. As it transforms us it affects those around us.

The transformation will include our work. It becomes more joyous. For we laughter practitioners, our teaching becomes lighter, more heartfelt and authentic. As it does so, the benefits people take away will increase and be more practical and useful.

Are these good reasons for more joy in your life?

Additional resources:

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The Laughie

I have been a Laughter Yoga practitioner for 18 years and now also teach the Laughie.

Here are some tips, laughs with my own Laughie, and one with a client.

The Laughie (created by Freda Gonot-Schoupinsky) is a mood-lifting tool. I have used it for over 18 months.

It is a 1-minute recording of my own laughter (though sometimes with others) which I play back to myself and laugh along with to give myself a mood lift.

When I first started using it, I followed the prescription of 3 times a day for a week and loved it.

Over time I have adapted it. I have made several versions which incorporate other people’s laughs as I find this makes my own Laughie funnier and more enjoyable. This makes it more effective for me.

Here is a recent version

Another adaptation is use it to give myself a mood lift in the morning by listening to it while cleaning my teeth. Even though I am listening and not laughing I find this gives me a noticeable tonic. It sets the scene for me to laugh with it.

When introducing people to the Laughie I often laugh along with them when they make their first one as this can help them laugh for a minute. It also tends to make their own Laughie funnier and more authentic and therefore easier for them to use and keep using.

Here is Wendy Arkless’ Laughie

I also encourage them to keep developing and adapting it after their initial three times a day for a week experience. I find this personalisation is important as it helps people keep using it.

Nowadays I use it at random when I need a quick mood lift. Having used and taught it for over a year, I am aware of what a useful tool it is.

For more information please visit: www.joehoare.co.uk

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Joy in laughter yoga

Laughter yoga is a path to joy.

Laughter yoga doesn’t create joy because joy already exists. What laughter yoga can do is help us discover, notice and experience it.

The most enlivening aspect of laughter yoga for some of us is the stillness after the laughter. This is similar to savasana in yoga, the state of total relaxation. When we notice and start paying attention to this space we realise that it underlies life. It is space of being and becoming.

There are many ways of accessing this space and laughter yoga in an excellent one. The energy and vitality of laughter yoga can combine with present-moment awareness to engage us with the experience of being alive. The more we engage, the more we experience being alive, the ‘Now.’ The ‘Now’ is not inert and static, it is dynamic and creative. It is like a prism with many facets, one of which is joy.

This joy exists and is waiting to be experienced.

When we ‘start with the end in mind’ (to Quote Steven Covey’s 7 Habits) and have joy as the end in mind, our laughter yoga transforms. It ceases to be about exercises and instead becomes the practice of joyfulness. This approach in laughter yoga is sometimes referred to as the ‘Inner Spirit of Laughter’. The archetype of this approach is of course the Laughing Buddha who represents joyful healthy abundance.

This joyful approach to laughter yoga is accessible to both new and experienced laughers. It is being-based not learning-based. It is easily accessible if we are so inclined. It is like a riddle – learning to be, without learning.

There is a new online ‘Inner Spirit of Laughter’ course starting soon. Contact me for details – joe at joehoare.co.uk / www.bristollaughterclub.com

The physical course will run as soon as groups are allowed to congregate again.

Background to this approach is available in the book ‘Awakening the Laughing Buddha within’. You can read the free introduction here, and listen to an excerpt here.

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The most important role of laughter yoga?

An essential part of laughter yoga is sharing joy and kindness. This might be its most important aspect?

Joy – the inner spirit of laughter

I love laughter yoga exercises and use them every day for my own physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual health. I have been using these intentional activities for 3 decades and they now combine in my own personal blend (‘laughterjoega’? ‘laughterjoyga’?). They are an integral part of my life because they work.

However, my own laughter yoga uses fewer and fewer exercises.

In my current life I am doing a lot of voluntary work and meeting people in varying degrees of distress. This is where I use my laughter yoga most. We always have a warm chuckle, even in the direst circumstances. This is intentional on my part. I don’t set out to make them laugh but I do set out to find a moment of joy with them and this always results in a good-natured chuckle.
In fact, I find less is more. The less I ‘do’ and the more I allow, the more easily we connect and find our moment of joy.

Sharing joy is at the heart of laughter yoga. Sharing joy invisibly is the inner spirit of laughter .

We develop this when we stop focusing on laughter yoga exercises and start feeling the energy inside them. Physical laughter yoga exercises whether movement, breath or laughter-based become a platform and a path into the inner spirit of laughter. The benefits include more impact, greater spontaneity and the ability to radiate laughter yoga effortlessly and invisibly. We can do this anytime and anywhere.

Do you?
I’d love to hear your experiences? Please share them?

www.joehoare.co.uk

www.bristollaughterclub.com

(If you want to develop this yourself, you might be interested in this pioneering workshop, ‘The Inner Spirit of Laughter’.)

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Tantric/Kundalini/Satipatthana laughter yoga

How often do you focus on your breath while laughing?

I was introduced to tantric, kundalini and satipatthana breathing practices long before my connection with Dr Kataria’s wonderful Global Laughter Yoga Movement. In fact in the 1980’s the first piece of Mind Body Spirit advice I was given included ‘…..and learn to breathe’.

At the time this seemed a laughable and nonsense piece of advice until shortly afterwards I ‘discovered’ diaphragmatic breathing and my life transformed. Once I has relearnt this fundamental breathing practice I happened across precussive trantric, kundalini and satipatthana breathing techniques. What they had in common was movement, shaking and short sharp exhalations throwing the ‘ha’ sound. They all involved short sharp abdominal movements. They are all intended to develop inner awareness and our inner spirit.

Is the connection with laughter yoga becoming clear?

Conscious laughing can be developed in the same way as conscious breathing. Many laughter exercises focus on the laughter rather than the breath, and this is great. The many health & wellbeing benefits we experience through good, deep, hearty laughter are fundamental to all laughter practices especially laughter yoga.

However, the experience changes when the focus for these exercises is internal not external. There are ways of moving the laughter breath which expand our inner awareness and develop the inner spirit of laughter. As all of us who use breath and inner energy know, this exploration keeps getting better. It is always new, exciting, life-enhancing, health-giving and connecting. I recommend it.

The key, as ever, is practice.

Enjoy!

To explore this further, check out these links

The inner spirit of laughter course 30th May, London

Laughter, breath, movement and mindfulness 25th April, Bristol

‘Awakening the Laughing Buddha within’

Laughter Facilitation Skills, 11/12th July, Bristol

General information

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The Inner Spirit of Laughter

‘We think too much and feel too little’ said Charlie Chaplin in his film ‘The Great Dictator’.

Self-initiated laughter – laughing, just because – has the potential to transform life by thinking less and feeling more. It is a great daily practice.

In the past twlelve months I have experienced this four times with Dr Kataria, Founder and President of Laughter Yoga International.

Self-initiated laughter is an ancient practice from many traditions around the world and like all such practices it endures because it works.
Its most recent form is perhaps the ‘laugh for no reason’ in laughter yoga. The insight behind this practice is that the physical, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual benefits of laughter come from the act of laughter itself. This is commonly understood in all laughter practices, whatever their name.

What is less well understood in laughter yoga is its deeper purpose – activating the inner spirit of laughter. It is easy to experience the health and happiness aspects of the exercises such as the oxygenation, the energising, the physical release and even the social interaction – ie the ‘what’ – and lose sight of their the inner aspect, their purpose – the ‘why?’
This is understandable because the health and happiness aspects are immediate and therapeutic. Thesa aspects are important, beneficial and obvious, and fortunately are experienced by millions of people worldwide.

The inner aspects of laughter yoga , like those of all ‘inner’ practices, are a different journey. They are subtle, nebulous, intuitive and initially tender & delicate. They expose us to feelings we often shy away from. Fortunately this inner spirit of laughter allows us, and therefore also others, to face these feelings courageously, openly & generously. It allows us to transform as a person. It also transforms our laughter yoga (and every other laughter practice).

We start this journey when we start allowing ourselves to feel, especially as we develop the ability to feel unflinchingly.

I encourage us all to explore this journey, together.

One day introduction in London, 30th May

General information

Awakening the Laughing Buddha within

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Laughter yoga, joy and laughies

Making a laughie

At the recent Joy Conference in Bristol Dr Gulcan Garip introduced us to the #laughie created by Freda Gonot-Schoupinsky. As she explained, it is a new mental wellness technique – ‘a one-minute recording of your laughter on a smartphone that you simultaneously laugh along to.’

The studies involved participants laughing along with their laughies 3-times day for 7 days, and using the World Health Organisation 5-item Well-Being Index.
The results are encouraging. Average absolute wellbeing scores increased by 16% from baseline to post-intervention

The connection and overlap with laughter yoga comes because self-initiatied laughter or ‘laughing – just because’ is a core laughter yoga practice (‘laugh for no reason’ in traditional laughter yoga parlance) . We train ourselves to laugh more – more easily, more naturally, more joyfully.

This conference was an excellent testing-ground because there were many laughter yoga practitioners in the room, so we were all ready to explore this new approach.

Gr Garip showed us the way …..the results were hilarity!

One of the takeaways from this lovely presentation was our own laughie. The feedback I have had is that without exception, everyone feels better when they use it.

One of the general takeaways from the conference is if you want more joy in your life, laugh more. One way to laugh more is to make a laughie – and use it. Visit this web page for a brief photo record of the day, and the presentations.

Make yours now?

Want help making yours? Get in touch today

www.joehoare.co.uk

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Joy Conference: “things that sustain your desire to be alive”. Bristol 26th October 2019.

Joy energises life. It sustains your desire to be alive.

According to the Glasgow University study of 2014, joy (‘happiness’) is one of our 4 basic facial expressions and primary emotions. It is no surprise, therefore, that it is such an effective approach to mental health, even when life its at its darkest..

Kate Hull Rodgers talks about her own journey from a mental hospital to award-winning comedienne in her presentation at the Joy Conference in Bristol on 26th October 2019.

In her own words: ‘Award winning comedienne, Kate Hull Rodgers, first became mentally ill 30 years ago. She was given a multitude of diagnosis, a cocktail of medication and was even chained to a bed, spread-eagle, as part of her treatment. Eventually she was institutionalized and sent to the notorious long term mental hospital. Her prognosis to get out was “hopefully”. Until one day the occupational therapist suggest Kate write a list of things that brought her Joy. Kate scoffed at the ridiculous idea…. But then she tried it. It was transformational, a turning point and the beginning of Kate’s long road to Recovery. Come and hear Kate’s astounding story of how she has lived with being Bipolar. You will laugh and cry and you will be inspired.’
Not to be missed.

Read her latest blog here. It is one of the most lovely pieces of writing I have ever read:
Joy List: “things that sustain your desire to be alive.”

Joy is also fundamental in laughter yoga. It is one of the 4 key steps, along with simple breathing & stretching exercise, playfulness and connection. When approached like this, it is easy to activate and benefits everyone. Let’s all be more joyful?

Do you prioritise joy in your own life?

If not, is it time to start now?

Joy Conference

Laughter yoga

‘Awakening the Laughing Buddha within’

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7 days of laughteryogawithjoe, day 3: ‘Spread joy – even by email’

Joy is at the heart of #laughteryogawithjoe.

I spend a lot of my time on email, as many of us do. I have sent many unwise emails in my time, as I expect we all have.

However, I send fewer and fewer of them as I use my laughter yoga more and more.

How?

By ‘use my laughter yoga more and more’ I do not mean get up and do lots of laughter yoga exercises while writing each email. I mean stay in touch with the joyfulness at the heart of laughter yoga, and make writing the email itself a laughter yoga exercise.

The way I ‘use my laughter yoga’ here is a 3-step process. It is simple and, I feel, worth experiencing yourself.

  1. Breathe. Breathe deeply for a few breaths until you feel calm and ready.
  2. Smile, always smile. Smile until you feel your smile connecting with your sense of calm and readiness, and then start your email.
  3. Chuckle quietly when you’ve finished, and re-read carefully. Imagine you are receiving this email, how can you make it an even better experience for the reader to receive? What adjustments do you need to make for the email to be well received? Keep laughing quietly (to yourself), and ask yourself – ‘Can I add more joy?’

This process helps us stay embodied and not over-think when writing emails. The result is to produce a communication that is as pleasant and easy to receive as possible.
It might even cause joy when it is read.

The more you do this, the more people will enjoy receiving your communications. You will be spreading joy and peacefulness as much as possible – and remember, ‘world peace through laughter’ is one of the 3 main aims of laughter yoga.

Email joy as much as you can?

Joy Conference

#laughteryogawithjoe

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