Cynics Don’t Do Laughter Yoga

April 12, 2010 at 7:39 PM (Energy, Mood, WTF) (, , , , , , , , )

Went to a great conference at The Cancer Factory on Saturday, for survivors and patients under 40. The vibe was good, the kids were hip, and the morning session I went to, on Mindfulness, was fabulous. Bagged lunch eaten and new friends made, we shuffled back into the main meeting room for the first session of the afternoon. Laughter Yoga. Now, I’m all about laughter, as you can probably guess from various posts herein, but I’m afraid I’m better at laughing at people than laughing with them.

Our enthusiastic moderator started us off with a quick description of the restorative and oxygenating power of laughter, and the history of Laughter Yoga, which started at a clinic in India and has now spread to Laughter Clubs all over the world. (Look for one in a neighborhood near you!) Apparently, even fake laughter can raise your mood and improve your breathing and outlook on the day. And lord knows I tried. But she had us getting up and walking around the big open chair-circle (never my first choice) and running up to each other, pretending to shake hands with an electric clown-buzzer while making eye contact, and laughing uproariously. Sort of fake-it-’til-you-make-it laughter.

I’ll admit it was sort of goofy at first, and the bizarreness of it all got me to laugh a few times. She let it go for three or four minutes, then we returned to our chairs for a breathing exercise and wind-down. Aaaaaaaand then she explained the next mock-hilarious encounter for us to enact in random pairs. And on it went. The second exercise I definitely wasn’t trying as hard. By the third, I was out. Sat in my chair and felt the eighth-grade-wow-this-is-so-lame vibe creeping up over the back of my neck.

I was a leeeetle bit jealous of the folks (a smaller and smaller selection of the whole for each subsequent farce) who were still participating, as their personal insecurities/strange-o-meters were low enough that they could whoop it up. But the longer I sat there watching, the less I felt like laughing, and the more I felt like leaving. I was comforted by the sight that I was not alone in my unease.

Am I immature? Or was it just naptime and I had run out of cancer-fighting pep for the day? Probably both. All I can tell you is that I could practically feel my blood pressure inching upward, until the leader finally congratulated us all on our spectacular job and we closed our eyes for a few more deep breaths.

It certainly wouldn’t be a club I’d run out to join to help me relieve stress. Color me snide.

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  1. Ruthann said,

    I have learned from plain old parenting stress that not every calming, count to 10, take deep breaths technique works for everyone and it seems this is true here as well. What I do know, without even knowing you personally, is that you have an excellent sense of humor! So laugh when you feel like laughing….it is indeed good medicine and surely even better when it is not forced with a handshake buzzer!

  2. Catherine Jacobs said,

    Your comments on laughter yoga made me laugh – for REAL !

  3. Bemberley said,

    If they changed the name to Tranquil Gaiety it could be fabulous too.

  4. Beth Dunn said,

    Oh I’m so with you, I have the patience level of a toddler. Nap time is key!

  5. sandhy said,

    OMG – I’d scream and run off! pretend lauging?? nooooo

  6. Boston Mamas said,

    I’m all for laughter but that sounds truly bizarre. But maybe it’s because I stopped dead in my tracks when I read the word “clown” – clowns scare the crap out of me.

  7. rxaid said,

    o.k. – now, I consider myself a cynic too- but honestly, there is science behind the laughter thing – even when it’s faked. If you look at it like they are trying to be ‘funny’ then it’s different. ‘Funny’ is relative and subject to personal taste- but laughing produces seratonin and release of cortisol. A lot of it probably depends on the instructor.

    On the other hand, when I am done tired and done playing, I don’t want to do stuff like that either.

    You might have thought it was ‘funny’ on another day 😉 Hey at least you gave it a shot.

  8. Inspiring, Informative, Interesting, Vol. 3 « I Beat Cancer, You Can Too said,

    […] from the Carcinista talks about “Laughter Yoga” as a form of therapy. The idea is that laughter, even fake laughter, can improve how we feel. Unfortunately, the author’s experience […]

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