Eiko Saito Japan : Five of us kept Laughing when our building was shaking all night with after shocks during Tsunami which hit Japan this March. I live in the city of Natori, Sendai-prefecture, in northern Japan, which was virtually wiped out by the recent tsunami. Last April 2010, I had become a Laughter Yoga leader together with my husband and we started our own local Laughter Club. Ever since I learned about Laughter Yoga and started practicing it on a regular basis, it has become a great tool to relieve all the stresses of my life.
My life is not so easy just like everybody else's lives. I lost my son last year in September quite suddenly which left me devastated. I also suffer from a chronic leg condition which hampers my mobility. But in spite of this entire crisis, I work as a part timer to support my big family of lots of kids and grand children. What makes me go is Laughter Yoga. It has helped me and my grandchildren to get over the loss of my son and cope with the difficult times.
Even as we were recovering from personal troubles, Japan was hit by a massive earthquake on the fateful day of 11th of March 2011. I was at work in the bread factory, and it was fortunate that our building did not collapse. Already in a state of panic and wondering what to do, we heard that a huge tsunami was headed our way. It was enough to put all of us in a state of extreme fear and alarm. Everyone rushed to the roof top of the building and an hour later, a massive tsunami hit us and virtually wiped out everything - trees, cars, houses and so on. However, our building was still intact and about 346 people survived the onslaught of nature.
It was a terrible night. We could not go home and were constantly battling the aftershocks and rising water levels. The infrastructure had completely broken down and there was no way to find out anything about our family members and friends. All we could do was to wait for rescue and help. As nobody could sleep that night, I decided to start laughing and convince the others to do the same. I explained that it would help them feel better, especially in time of such grave crisis.
Initially diffident and unwilling, some people agreed to laugh. I explained how to do Laughter Yoga and we laughed and talked all night long. Laughter really relieved our feelings, and although many didn't join us, they too felt a little better just by seeing us laugh. The next morning, as the water level went down, I was able to go home and providentially my house escaped the tsunami and my family members were all well.
Soon after the disaster, I visited India to attend Dr.Kataria's teacher training course together with 47 other people from all over Japan. It was a profound experience to see how people most affected by disaster were ready to laugh and start new life. I've also opened a "Laughter Cafe" in my house to help spread the magic of laughter ha ha ha.