In the early 90’s, we lived in London. I was in school the whole three years we were there while my husband worked and traveled all over Europe. I went to The Shiatsu College and studied Macrobiotic Healing Arts at the East West Foundation.
At the time, London was holding a lot of laughter and laughing workshops. On the third floor of The Shiatsu College, there was a British School of Shiatsu where laughter and laughing workshops were offered. When I assisted in macrobiotic counseling, the patients would tell me how much these workshops helped them with relaxing, opening up, healing, becoming happier, etc. The experiences varied with different people.
I decided to try it. At first I was skeptical. I wondered how laughter therapy could help. You walk in and sit on the floor. The person running the workshop will explain their experience with laughter therapy, how it changed their life, how it healed some of their symptoms, their realization of how stressful their life was at work or at home and how they got inspired to change their journey in life.
Since it was laughter therapy, of course some funny stories were told. After that, people started to relax and we were all asked to laugh for just no reason. Usually there would be one person that started a funny laugh and somehow it all became contagious and we would all follow. It would go on and on, really unstoppable. Your body tires from the laughter physically but the amazing internal feeling is indescribable. There is a feeling of happiness and letting go.
I wanted to take more of these classes, because the result stayed with me for a while. I would share the experience with my husband and how I felt. He started taping funny comedies, comedians or funny movies on TV. It became a routine for us to sit together and laugh for a half an hour before bed just to relax us. Apparently, our liver organ loves the laughing process. It is the opposite of anger. We often hear people saying: “He (or she) is such an angry, liverish person.” Now I get it.
When we moved back to Boston in the mid-90’s, I went back to Boston Shiatsu School to learn more. I started assisting a well-known Japanese Acupuncture master and teacher named Kiiko Matsumoto. She would always tell my husband, “You should tickle Maggo” (that’s what she used to call me, or Moxa Girl) “every evening for a few seconds to make her laugh and relax her liver.” I would feel happy, relaxed, open and cheerful. I smile when I remember those days. She once told my husband: “Good job tickling Maggo, liver much better, happier.” Kiiko was a very funny woman. I always loved her laugh.
There was a famous DVD that came out a few years ago called “The Secret.” In it, a woman with cancer tells her story about her stressful life, her illness and how she decided to watch a funny movie every day with her husband as part of her healing journey and how it played a role in her cure. Two years ago, the Movement Center offered a full weekend workshop on laughing and the miracle of laughter therapy. The naturopath who hosted it shared the amazing results he is getting with the patients who seek his help. Some of the attendees made the promise to make time in our daily life to watch something funny that makes us laugh.
Try spreading the laughter. If you’re not a comedian, find other ways to make the people in your life laugh more. My dad, whom I loved dearly, was a very serious person; it was hard to make him laugh. My brother’s friend (an extremely funny guy) was once telling a joke at our house. My dad was laughing so hard. The friend stopped his story, ran to the phone (no cell phones in the 80’s), dialed his wife and said: “You won’t believe what just happened. Paul’s dad just laughed at my joke and he laughed so hard, his face was all red.” Happy Father’s Day, Dad, or like my husband used to call him, Papa.
Try to surround your life with fun, positive people who have a good sense of humor. If you like, give laughter therapy a try, or simply pop in a funny movie. It is a simple step to becoming a more open, relaxed and happier individual.