LAUGHTER: A REASONABLE ALTERNATIVE TO MINDFULNESS


The other day I was asked to get ready to do a presentation on something that might be helpful to members of my Rehabilitation and Recovery team at Fraser Health. My team is a large one covering regions from Burnaby to Boston Bar and incorporates Recreation Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Managers Support workers, Concurrent Disorder Therapists, Family Workers   and Vocational Therapists such as yours truly.

The presentation should be helpful to the everyday work of my co-workers, and should inform the work that we do with our clients.

Tall order, eh?

In previous years, I experienced lots of workshops on something called mindfulness. Mindfulness is part meditation and part group gided imagry. It is a method of getting in touch with one’ self, and hopefully remain relaxed while dealing with clients.

To me, mindfulness provides an opportunity for a nice group nap. My problem is my fearfulness of disturbing the ambiance of the room by snoring. A good rumbling shoring session calls my competence into question, and my mindfulness nap is hardly restful. I have never achieved REM sleep in a mindfulness session.

I wondered wqhether I could find an opposite of mindfulness, and if I could, could it inform my team’s work?

About 4 years ago I was asked to write a story on Laughter Yoga for Alive Magazine. I did, and they paid me $500 for it. The joke was on them, as it was altogether too much fun to do. Here’s an example of Laughter Yoga:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iR-QM7RA-4c

I know it seems a little cornball, but here are some benefits of laughter I uncovered in my article:

  • Laughter increases the diameter of blood vessels thus lowering blood pressure (Science Daly, August 28, 2011)
  • Lowering in systolic blood pressure (Robson, 2011)
  • Lowering of cholesterol (Robson, 2011)
  • It may have a positive effect on psyche making us sexier as people respond well to humour (Ayan, 2009)
  • Laughter is relaxing and may ease anxiety and pain (Ayan, 2009)
  • Cheerfulness, a trait that makes people respond more readily to humor (Ayan, 2009)
  • Laughter may enhance the ability to keep a level head in difficult circumstances (Ayan 2009)
  • Life satisfaction may increase with the ability to laugh.
  • Positive effect on arthritis, (Gerloff, 2011) cancer, (Gazella, 2011) and a substitute for chemically induced highs in addictions (Bourg Carter, 2011)

Here are some benefits of Yoga:

After Pizer 2011

  • Improved flexibility in the hamstrings back, shoulders and hips
  • Improved strength from slowly transferring poses
  • Yoga helps shape long, lean muscles.
  • Improved flexibility, body alignment and strength can help prevent the causes of some types of back pain.
  • Focus on breathing through yoga leads to better use our lungs, which benefits the entire body
  • Mental calmness
  • Stress reduction
  • Body awareness
  • More recently:
  • It was shown to have a positive effect on people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (Science Daily. May 26,2011)
  • It can be beneficial in low back pain (Science Daily, October 24, 2011)
  • It can improve mood (Science Daily, August 19, 2011)

References:

Ayan, Steve, 2009) “How Humor Makes You Friendlier, Sexier“ Scientific American

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=laughing-matters

Bourg Carter, Sherrie (2011). “Want to Get High? LOL: The Natural High of Laughter.” http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201111/want-get-high-lol

Gerloff, Pamela (September 2011) “ Are You Meeting Your Laugh Quota? Why You Should Laugh Like a 5-Year-Old“Psychology Today. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-possibility-paradigm/201106/are-you-meeting-your-laugh-quota-why-you-should-laugh-5-year-ol

Gazella, Karolyn (September 2011) “Rewire Your Happiness Circuitry: How Joy and Laughter      Can Help You Prevent Cancer“  Psychology Today.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-healing-factor/201109/rewire-your-happiness-circuitry-how-joy-and-laughter-can-help-you-pre

 

Pizer, Ann, (2011) “What are the benefits of Yoga?” About.com. http://yoga.about.com/od/beginningyoga/a/benefits.htm

Robson, David (July 21, 2010) “Laughter’s secrets: The best medicine?“ New Scientist

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727691.700-laughters-secrets-the-best-medicine.html

 

Science Daily (May 26, 2011) “Siginificant Benefits of Yoga in People With Rheumatoid     Arthritis, Study Shows” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110526064641.htm

Science Daily (August 19, 2011) “New Study Finds New Connection Between Yoga and Moodhttp://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100819112124.htm

Science Daily (October 24, 2011) “Yoga Eases Back Pain in Largest U.S. Yoga Study to Date

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111024164708.htm

 

Science Daily (August 28, 2011) “Laughter Has Positive Impact On Vascular Function,”  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110828101806.htm

 

The participants of a weight room interval/weight training  Fitness class I teach at West Point Grey Community Center have demanded that I include a Last Laugh thing right after (or now part of) my final streatches. I call it “The Last Laugh.

Do you think we could design a show based on this. Heck, the first 20 minutes have already been done.

This could be followed by a discussion. Has anyone tried to incorporate humour in their practice? What has been the result?

How can humour be introduced to the client ?

  • Open ended of questions
  • Listening and watching responses

What are some pitfalls of using humour as part of therapy

  • Clients might miss the point
  • Humour may be viewed as sexual harassment in this world of poli speak
  • Clients might internalize humour and say that they were the brunt of it
  • Humour has to be tied in to the goal of the session (Example, how to cheat at your interview)

I can envision this taling us yo to the first break in the morning. I now realize that I would even pay money to attend a workshop like this. I would love to see the expression on my managers’ faces as a group of professional bum their way across the floor as a team of rowers as seen in the above example.

Mike Broderick , a one- time archaeologist, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with the Fraser Health Authority in Port Coquitlam where he helps people with mental health disabilities find and keep full or part time employment .

He WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he found employment for people with physical disabilities, A Supported Employment Coordinator at THEO BC (now the Open Door Group), and a case manager at Community Fisheries Development Centre where he helped people move from the fishing industry to something else because there, “Aint no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look.

He is a newly retired ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a former member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist, is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to Alive Magazine. He is always saying, “If you can’t be fit, you can at least be funny.”

He lives in Port Coquitlam with his spouse Cecelia. You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net  or at 604-464-4105. If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates.

 

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One Response to “LAUGHTER: A REASONABLE ALTERNATIVE TO MINDFULNESS”

  1. energywriter Says:

    Great piece, Mike. I agree. Laughter is mindfulness. Next class offer to be the teacher and lead a session of Laughter Yoga. sd

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