Category Archives: Laughing Yogi

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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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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Laughter yoga and moving mindfulness – joy in the present moment

 

Laughter yoga overlaps with mindfulness.
It also overlaps with embodiment.
Movement and embodiment are natural partners.
Together, they create a joy-filled combination for present-moment awareness.

 

 

 

Laughter practices can bring our attention instantly into the ‘Now’.
When we are laughing heartily, time shrinks or expands (take your pick), so that the only thing we are aware of is the present moment.

Therefore when used in this way, laughter practices are an excellent route into mindful awareness.

Movement and embodied awareness have the potential immediatly to end overthinking. When these are approached with inner awareness, and therefore the movement & sense of embodiment  come from within, attention immediately moves away from our thoughts. Our attention doesn’t just move into our body but it also moves into the present moment.
This is a different experience from merely being aware of our thoughts.

Another insight from laughter (and other psychological) practices is the effect of the smile. It has been established many times how the effect of a smile lifts our mood. It is a natural stress-buster and mood-lifter. It is the sister to the William James observation ‘We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we’re happy because we laugh’.

When we explore smiling practices, and in particular the feel of the inner smile, and combine this with embodiment and present-moment awareness, our ‘Now’ immediately feels different. Although the ‘Now’ is inherently joyful, when we add in smiling and laughter practices their combined effect enhances present-moment awareness surprisingly vividly.
With practice, these three aspects support each other like a three-legged stool.

One delightful aspect of this is that it doesn’t require an additional time commitment. We don’t have to sit for 20 minutes, three times a day, seven days a week, and learn a new practice.
All we need to is become aware, and add smiling, laughter and embodiment practices into how we already live our life.

Practice makes perfect.

It also makes joyful.

Information on the next session is here

Would you like the Move / Breathe / Smile video?
Email me joe @ joehoare . co . uk for your free copy

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

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‘Feeling alive’ with laughter yoga and moving mindfulness

 

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. … I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive…….so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” Joseph Campbell.

How do laughter yoga and moving mindfulness help us feel alive?

One of the many effects of laughter yoga is to alter time, to expand the ‘Now’.

When we laugh heartily, time disintegrates and the present moment expands. We become wholly involved in the moment, in the act of laughter itself. All our attention is engaged in this almost overwhelming activity and we enter an altered state of consciousness – the ‘Now’.

When we live in the ‘Now’ as opposed to in the past or the future, we enter a state that is timeless and inherently joyful.
When our attention and awareness are focused in the current moment rather than in our thoughts, memories and anxieties, we find the ‘Now’ is expansive and liberating state of being, and this can affect us profoundly.

‘I must agree that the session for the “Wild And Well” weekend was one of the best out of the whole course.
It made myself and my colleague so very happy for the whole day, and a for quite while afterwards…….Who would have thought such love, energy and happiness could come from one hour.’

Over the years I have found that mindful movement and embodiment can rapidly precipitate this.

I have found the simple formula of moving, breathing and smiling, when adjusted appropriately, works with every group in every situation. It has worked with ‘grieving’ groups, with special needs children, and with hospice volunteers. When this approach is suitably framed, it allows and encourages effortless, good-natured, appropriate light-heartedness & playfulness. This always manifests as joyful, natural, genuine, spontaneous laughter.

When this form of laughter yoga is combined with mindful movement and aware, conscious embodiment, our ‘Now’ expands in what is sometimes an intensely ‘alive’ experience.

‘That hour session was honestly one of the most uplifting things i have ever experienced.’

This hybrid approach uses the best of mindfulness and the best of laughter yoga. It works because they reinforce each other. It is the combination of the ‘lightness’ of laughter yoga with the ‘awareness’ of mindfulness that produces this experience of being intensely and joyfully alive.

One quality about this practice is its simplicity. Jon Kabat-Zinn described mindfulness as ‘simple but not easy’.
This combination of laughter yoga and mindful movement is simple. It is best done in the easiest and simplest way you can. There is nothing to learn.

You simply start consciously moving, breathing and smiling, and feeling how this affects you.

The benefits start immediately.

The more you do this, the more you build muscle memory and, through neuro-plasticity, wire this into your consciousness.

The more you practice, the longer the benefits last.

I hope you develop and enjoy your own practice.

Upcoming course, 1st December, Bristol (UK)

Online course

General information

 

 

 

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