‘Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you.’
Did a parent, teacher or another respected elder repeat that adage when you grew up? What poppycock!
The hurts may not be as evident as the physical cuts, scrapes and abrasions of life but they can be just as real. Even the World Health Organisation recognises that. And still many of us choose to hide or ignore them.
What happens to an open wound that’s not properly cleaned and bandaged to aid its healing process? It can fester, becoming far more uncomfortable, far more serious. I believe the same can be said for emotional hurts.
We can try to push them down.
We can fuse with them and let them become bigger and worse than they are.
Or we can learn to look at our situation a bit differently.
I’ve said before that laughter yoga, to my mind, is not a silver bullet to cure all ills. And I’m not a psychologist.
However experience has shown me that laughter exercises such as those practised in laughter yoga can make a difference for some common psychological injuries experienced in daily life. And you don’t have to be in the mood!
It’s common to feel lonely from time to time. And loneliness doesn’t necessarily mean being alone. Loneliness is a problem when you feel ‘disconnected’ from others. While laughter exercises can be done alone, I’m a great believer in the original format of a small group. Actually laughing with others, and engaging eye contact, helps reconnect. This has been found to be particularly effective for older participants.
Feelings of failure
First things first. We are all born with laughter in us. When we give ourselves permission to laugh, our laugh is ‘right’ for us.
Laughter exercises also teach us to look at things differently. We make up exercises from experiences around us. A favourite laugh is the credit card statement laugh. Instead of wailing that you’ll never pay it off and you’re a failure for spending more than you meant – beating yourself up psychologically – laugh it out. Yes you’ll still have to pay the bill but oh boy, you really spent how much?!
Is your mind stuck in a groove, playing the ‘loser’ or ‘done wrong’ track over and over again? Do you stew over sad or angry feelings? That’s like picking at a scab, stopping a wound from healing. You cannot truly be angry or sad and heartily laugh at the same time. Laughter yoga exercises become like a circuit breaker disrupting for a short time that continuation of stinking thinking.
Loss – whether it’s a job or a home or health or a loved one – hurts. I know. I’ve been there. And grieving is a natural part of life.
Laughter yoga exercises and the deep cleansing breaths that accompany it, help release pent-up feelings. The exercises make laughter physical. You don’t need to be in the mood to laugh at all. You will laugh though, if you give yourself permission to go with the flow of the exercises.
Another fabulous benefit of laughter yoga when experiencing emotional loss is the social connection that comes from surrendering to the laugh and surrounding yourself within the joyous safety of a laughter group.
Unlike many exercises, you will feel good from the very first session. And that’s terrific. But remember, you’ll only feel better, longer, with practice. Find a community laughter yoga club and give laughter a go!
(c) 2018 Heather Joy Campbell