What would you say about a club that grooms a hundred youngsters every week to laugh for no reason? Chetana Laughter Club has the unique distinction of taking a few thousand young officers along the pathway of self-triggered joy during the past one year. State Bank Foundation Institute (Chetana) has been set-up at Indore to groom young bank officers. During their training, the officers have a brief tryst with laughter yoga. It is used as an ice-breaker at the beginning of programme and as an energizer in between the sessions. Besides, there is a full-fledged laughter session every Wednesday evening.
Debrati Dey, probationary officer came to the institute from Kolkata unaware of what was in store for her. She says, “The laughter session was one laugh riot. Every time a new exercise for laughter was introduced, it instantly generated excitement and contemplation of the possible outcome. One of the phrases which everyone chanted after every act was ‘very good, very good, yay!’ It is a simple phrase without any actual meaning .But when you clap your hands and say it loud, the phrase brings out its actual magic. It became an instant hit and a college anthem for us. In this era of ‘survival of the fittest’, Laughter club has the guts to say ' survival of the happiest '. I didn't realize through the course of the session how it had a positive biochemical effect on my cardiovascular and nervous system. It’s only when I got back to my room that I could see myself happy, de-stressed and re-energized.”
Another probationer, Mohit Kumar says, “This laughter club is truly fascinating. It enthuses us in so simple a way. It has filled us with confidence and positivity. Hats off to chetana laughter club!”
The institute is fully laughter enabled. All faculty members are trained laughter leaders. “It has been observed that laughter yoga is conducive in creating a good environment for learning and community living. The experiment has been very valuable and fruitful for all at the institute,” feels Vijay Puri, faculty who loves to attend all laughter sessions. He tells us, “All the participants invariably imbibe the chants of ‘very good very good yay’ during their stay and it soon becomes their mantra. This is something they will never forget in life.
Gradually, they realize the virtues of unconditional laughter for their health and well-being.”
“I feel that laughter yoga is suited to the Indian psyche and the participants feel relaxed after laughter session. It is a voluntary activity available to our participants and there is no compulsion“, says K K Iyer, director, state bank foundation institute (Chetana), Indore.
Laughter yoga which initially started as a social club movement has now entered the business world. By introducing laughter yoga for staff, corporates have reported happier workplace, increased efficiency, better communication, team work and reduced stress levels.
A presentation on laughter yoga was made at the local head office of SBI at Bhopal by laughter yoga professionals Radhika Bisht and Jagat Singh Bisht. The audience included the staff, senior officials and their families. They appreciated it very much. Mr S K Mishra, then chief general manager, who is now a deputy managing director of the State Bank of India, the largest bank of this country, desired that an audio track be recorded containing instructions for a brief laughter session. The track is played every morning at 11 o’clock over the public address system at the local head office and more than five hundred employees spread on five floors of the building chant ‘very good very good yay” and laugh in unison every working day.
A brief energizing session of laughter yoga was conducted by laughter yoga professionals Radhika Bisht and Jagat Singh Bisht at the beginning of bipartite meeting between state bank of india management and staff federation representatives at hotel Sayaji, Indore earlier this year. It was attended by the DMD & CDO, CGM (HR), CGM (Bhopal Circle), several senior officials of the Bank and all the top leaders of state bank staff federation from all the circles. The energizing effect of the session was felt and appreciated by everyone.
Presentations on laughter yoga have been arranged twice at the state bank academy, Gurgaon before officers from all over the country. It has also been showcased at the state bank staff college and state bank institute of information and communication management located in Hyderabad. The staff of SME credit processing centre and stressed assets recovery branch at Indore have found the laughter yoga sessions very invigorating. A laughter yoga session for bank guards, assistants, probationary officers and faculty was conducted at the state bank learning centre, Goa. It was a unique experience as all of them laughed from their being level making it absolutely difficult to distinguish differences in their grades as they laughed like kids. The laughter virus has meanwhile spread to other centres – Kanpur, Lucknow, Goa, Nagda, Nagapattinam etc. – through some well meaning trainers and officers.
The journey of laughter for the State Bank of India (SBI) started on the 13th of September, 2010 when the laughter club of state bank learning centre, Indore was inaugurated with a bunch of newly promoted officers. Whoever came to the learning centre after that had a brush with laughter yoga. They laughed every morning with a small group of willing laughers from all the groups who poured in week after week.
A good number of probationers from State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Hyderabad have also undergone basic sessions of laughter yoga at the institute in Indore.
I have had the privilege of introducing laughter yoga in the SBI and laughing with thousands of my colleagues. The bank has given me bread, butter and a respectable place in the society. Now, it is time that I give back something to this great institution. I am sure my humble contribution will bring cheer to some of the souls here. I would like to be remembered as a messenger of love and laughter when I retire from the Bank.
Jagat Singh Bisht
AGM and Faculty, State Bank Foundation Institute (Chetana), Indore;
Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher, Laughter Yoga International;
Founder, Chetana Laughter Club &
Laughter Club of State Bank Learning Centre, Indore.