Laughter Yoga movement has now grown exponentially in over 70 countries and is no more restricted to social clubs. It has gone into different areas of application and has been successfully implemented among physically and mentally challenged people, blind schools, prisons, orphanages, self help cancer groups and those suffering from chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis and others.
Living with a disability is a huge challenge and can be hard to deal with. It can lead to severe mental trauma and stress. People are prone to negative feelings and emotions that undermines all rationality and gives rise to a confusing mindset regarding one’s own image and capabilities. One undergoes an all time low and sensations of self pity and self worthless set in.
Laughter Yoga has the ability to elevate the mood state, helps to cope with physical and mental disability and provides relief from feelings of negativity. The group dynamics of Laughter Yoga lead to more openness and aid people to share their grief. Exercises and deep breathing relax the body and mind and help one to accept reality. Laughter Clubs are a safe haven for people to release their inner feelings without fear and pain. Laughter catharsis is a great technique for emotional release and balance.
Laughter Yoga With The Blind
In October 1997, I received a call from Dinesh Saryia, requesting me to come to an institute for the blind in Dadar, Mumbai, and conduct a laughter session for 60-80 young girls, most of them below the age of 12. Dinesh must have been around 25, but his vision was diminishing due to retinitis pigmentosa, a disease which gradually leads to blindness. He expressed his desire to meet me and work out the details. Though I said ‘Yes’, I was a bit hesitant and wondered how can I make the blind laugh.
Normally, we laugh in a group, and stimulate each other by looking into each other’s eyes. But this was different. After two days, Dinesh came to my office with his blind colleague and spent nearly half-an-hour with me. I couldn’t help noticing that, while talking they were smiling all the time, which is very rare in normal individuals. At that moment, I recalled my visits to blind homes during my college days, when I observed that most of them have an inbuilt smile on their face when they talk.
Another noticeable fact is that these people are extraordinarily talented in certain creative fields like music, weaving skills and other arts. I was quite keen to do a laughter session with them so I went along with four Laughologists to the institute where we were given a warm welcome. After the initial ceremony, we asked a group of 30-40 blind girls to come out in the open, and experience the joy of laughter exercises. Initially, they were hesitant and amused at the idea of laughing in a group, for no reason. But, after ten minutes of persuasion, they joined the group of adults, outside in the compound. Till then, I was not sure whether I would be able to make them laugh.
Sound Of Laughter Is Contagious
One needs to look at other people to initiate laughter. I thought eye contact is the most important factor in eliciting genuine giggles, but I was proved wrong. When I experimented with that particular group during the laughter session, for the first time I realized that the sound of laughter is also infectious. As the session progressed, the quality of laughter improved. The girls were laughing non-stop, and it was difficult to stop them. It was a indeed a unique experience, and I would like to bring more smiles and laughter to the faces of millions of blind people all over the world. It may bring a fresh ray of hope to their sight-deprived lives.