Five years ago, Desmond Nicholas, a brave cancer survivor based in Melbourne, visited Indore and stayed with us. I have very fond memories of Des. He was a rather quiet person for an Australian but had a keen sense for humour, sports and politics. We went out for long walks in the evening and talked all of these three topics.
He had undergone the pain of chemotherapy twice. When colon cancer was detected for the third time, he didnt want to take it anymore.
One of his acquaintances told him about Laughter Yogaand its benefits. He found the concept amusing but went ahead to give it a try. He joined a laughter club there and took private sessions with the laughter leader.
Des was a basketball player in his younger days. He told me that he eventually started enjoying laughter exercises like the game of basketball and continued with it for hours together.
After a few months he went for a check-up. The doctor looked up to him and asked where he had got himself treated as there was no trace left in the report. Des mimicked, with a wink, the expression he had seen on the doctors face when he told him that he had tried laughter yoga. We had a good laugh!
Des shared his story in a blog which I am reproducing in toto for the benefit of the readers:
Greatly inspired by Laughter Yoga Clubs, I started to laugh all by myself every day after meditation. The laughter exercises include chants of Ho Ho, Ha Ha and deep breathing. I also do these exercises even while walking. I allow myself to be spontaneous and childlike and make funny movements. I even sing some positive affirmations like: I am happy tee hee hee; I am healthy tee hee hee; I am strong tee hee hee..
Regular practice of laughing alone has had a tremendous effect on my health condition. Though suffering from a tumor for some time, I can feel it getting smaller. Even my specialist was amazed when he realized it had shrunk remarkably. He cancelled the radiotherapy and said, I am happy to keep an eye on it for now. I really believe that its laughter, meditation and positive affirmations that have worked so wonderfully together.
I also think laughter is anti-ageing. Though Im 60, I feel very energetic, there is less pain and I can easily do a lot of things. People remark that I look much better and younger!
Yes, Des, I agree, you are sweet-sixty, yet as mischievous as a sweet-sixteen!
Des story also supports Dr Otto Warburgs finding: Deep breathing techniques increase oxygen to the cells and are the most important factors in living a disease-free and energetic life. When cells get enough oxygen, cancer will not and cannot occur. Warburg, President, Institute of Cell Physiology, is the only person to ever win the Noble Prize for Medicine twice and was nominated for a third.
In his book Laugh for No Reason, Dr Madan Kataria, the founder of Laughter Clubs Movement has rightly said that those suffering from life threatening diseases not only go through physical pain; they also face immense psychological trauma. Not just the patient, but family, friends and care givers all need positive reinforcement. Having a positive mental attitude greatly influences the course of the disease.
We have had many members suffering from cancer, immune disorders, multiple sclerosis and other chronic diseases who have reported relief from their symptoms, thereby reducing their medication.
In the past, inspired by the research on laughter, many cancer patients tried to use humor in order to laugh away their tumor. But, it is not easy to laugh when someone has a disease like cancer.
This is where Laughter Yoga has an advantage. Since it is a physical method, it is ideally suited for cancer groups who can practice laughter as a form of exercise with no need of any humorous intervention. It may not cure the disease but definitely help in enhancing ones ability to cope with and maintain a positive attitude.
(The blogger is a Laughter Yoga Master Trainer and expresses his willingness to conduct laughter yoga and meditation sessions for the benefit of cancer patients.)
Jagat Singh Bisht