BRINGING LOVE AND LAUGHTER TO OLD FOLKS IN A HOME IN SHANGHAI, CHINA
Lee Sok Lian
12 January, 2018
This month, we took laughter yoga to an old folks' home in Shenxiang Village, a short ten minute journey by bus. Close to 200 old folks stay in this Home.
Laughter Yoga Leader Yao Ruizhen, a Shenxiang Village resident, grew up here. She knows the place and its residents very well. It is a quiet and sleepy little village far away from the heartbeat of the city. Nothing much happens here. She was afraid that the lack of enthusiasm might dampen our spirits. She prepared me for this eventuality weeks in advance: "Teacher Li, the old folks may not get it. They may not laugh. Do not be disappointed, OK?"
I laughed and assured Ruizhen that I was mentally prepared. The Chinese have a saying: When you laugh, you must not show your teeth. They also believe that excessive or prolonged laughing could lead to the depletion of qi, especially in the cold winter months when we should conserve our energy.These strongly entrenched cultural beliefs have prevented laughter yoga from taking off in a big way on the mainland despite our best efforts and Dr. Kataria's visits.
On the morning of 28 October, Sun Island General Manager Carrie Tan and 20 staff converged in the Home. Upon arrival, we were warmly received by Superintendent Ding and her staff. Cindy Day the manager in charge of the day's program had prepared a star-studded line-up including Sun Island's own talented emcee, magician and dancers, all certified Laughter Yoga Leaders.
Residents and staff at the Home applauded loudly, enthralled by the magic show, laughter yoga, dance, singing and Chinese orchestra performance (courtesy of local performing groups). Our little gifts of potted herbs, Mandarin oranges and cookies were much appreciated by all.
The proceedings were conducted entirely in the local Chinese dialect and expertly directed by Master of Ceremonies Zhang Minwen. Everyone enjoyed the show despite the chill lingering within the compound in the early afternoon. There were loud calls for an encore as well as repeated requests for us to return soon! The warm interaction, love, laughter and joy touched our hearts and quickly dispelled the cold in the air.
"If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else."
--- A Chinese proverb