Laughter Member’s Take on Humour, Jokes & Laughter.

Ross Normand is our ‘elder’ laughter club member, who was 80 on the 22nd August 2014. Ross wrote this essay on humour sometime ago and since joining the Ferntree Gully Laughter Club, his appreciation of humour, jokes and laughter has become enhanced. Consequently he made some changes to the essay and felt to share it with me and has granted permission to share it with you. Thank you Ross. We appreciate your written contribution and yourself for being a valuable, regular member to our Ferntree Gully Laughter Club.

HUMOUR, JOKES AND LAUGHTER
by Ross Normand

“A serious and good philosophic work could be written entirely of jokes.” Ludwig Wittgenstein, (1889-1951 A.D.) Austrian-British philosopher. Humour is an amusing and creative activity that makes its presence felt in many situations. When used in an enlightening or playful way humour can be wonderfully uplifting, but it can also be quite destructive, particularly if employed in a vulgar way or used in such a manner as to embarrass and/or ridicule people. Most people of all ages and cultures respond favourably to good humour; its spiritual nature makes us laugh and expands our philosophic outlook on Life.
Humour takes many forms such as wit, satire, sarcasm, slapstick, cartoons, mimicry, etc. Here is a trilogy of jokes which may, or may not, appeal to your own particular sense of humour —
George Bernard Shaw, the famous playwright, once invited Winston Churchill to the opening night of one of his plays and ended the note by saying, “Bring a friend, if you have one.” Churchill replied, expressing regret that he could not attend on the first night but said he would come on another night. “If there is one!”.
Ben Jonson, a colleague of William Shakespeare, was once asked to explain the pun, a form of wit. Ben replied, “Pun, what subject?” The friend laughed at this pun, but said, “Oh, the King.” Ben then said, “But the King is not a subject. He is the King”.
Mulla Nasrudin was born in Eskishehr, Turkey, in the l3t Century A.D. Sufi mystics still recount many of his quaint stories; here is one of them. – Nasrudin entered a teahouse one day and declaimed, “The moon is more useful than the sun.” Someone asked him why. “Because at night we need the light more,” said Nasrudin.
Laughter Yoga is a world-wide practice that originated in India; it helps man to better integrate the workings of his mind, body and soul. Nobody knows exactly why we laugh or why anything causes us to make a strange noise, but it happens from an early age. Babies smile, then coo, and finally chuckle when they are amused. Jokes often occur when an ordinary idea is twisted by somebody in an unusual, but pleasingly unexpected way. Here’s an example —
A man speaks to his doctor after an operation. He says, “Doc, now that the surgery is done, will I be able to play the piano?” The doctor replies, “Of course!”  The man then says, “Good, because I couldn’t before!”.
Humorous events were often brought to my notice when, as a small boy, I lived near the Mont Albert Railway Station. Standing at our front gate one day, I noticed an Army Officer, who must have been coming home on leave from the Second World War, for he wildly embraced a girl coming to meet him in the opposite direction and swept her off her feet. Not only did I witness this stirling deed, but so too did a couple of teenage girls who stood on the footpath near me. One of them said to the other, “I wish that was me !“ I smiled and had a bit of a laugh, because I was quite sure the Army Officer and the girls involved in this little episode were completely oblivious of me — one small boy playing nearby on his three-wheeled trike.
Humour, according to some experts, cannot or should not be explained. But the vast majority of people who do theorise about it conclude that humour is a very healthy activity, or that it is a gift from God, or that it is an unexplainable event very much akin to a mystical experience. Humour seems to give us, above all, a great opportunity to have a good laugh about happenings in Life!

HUMOUR, JOKES & LAUGHTER
by Ross Normand

Bibliography

The World Book Encyclopaedia, U.S.A. 1974 Edition
– Volume 9 Article on Humour

Wikipedia Encyclopaedia, Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. U.S.A.
– Article on Humour

R.M.I.T. University Lecture on “Humour” (2009)
– at The Melbourne Theosophical Society Ltd.

The Melbourne “Herald” Newspaper, 1965.
– Article “Churchill Said It”.

The Sufis by Idries Shah.
– Doubleday Anchor Book, U.S.A.

Laughter Yoga With School Children – Live For Live

Live4Life is a project run by the Macedon Ranges Council, promoting rural students’ mental health. As part of this project Laughter Clubs Victoria Inc was approached, because of the importance for school children to be given the opportunity to experience laughter yoga. In March, Merv Neal presented a laughter session for Live4Life.

Here is an except from the Live4Life e-newsletter:
“What an awesome day to kick off the Live4Life program for 2014! Over 550 young people from across the Macedon Ranges Shire gathered at host school Sacred Heart College in Kyneton to Launch the program, and enjoyed enterainment from Issac & Jimmy, Flaxxon and Mumblr, as well as a Laughter Yoga Session with Merv Neal.”

And the YouTube video of excerpts from that session.

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And for those of you who want to know more about the program, here is some information from the Live4Life home page, which says it all!
“Live4Life is a youth mental health primary prevention initiative targeting young people in the Macedon Ranges, Victoria, Australia
The Live4Life initiative is a community-wide response to a reported increase in 2009 from schools, police, community health and medical services to depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide in the Macedon Ranges Shire, particularly at Year 8 level (13-14years). The Youth Development Unit of the Macedon Ranges Shire Council, along with schools and community leaders, identified a need for a coordinated, collaborative response with a focus on seeking solutions prior to the need for crisis intervention Live4Life is an innovative, evidence-based, local community driven response to youth mental illness. The initiative aims to provide a local solution to a global problem by adopting a whole of community approach to increase knowledge, reduce stigma and improve mental health service pathways that are appropriate for young people.”

How wonderful to hear about such amazing work being done with school children and I welcome any comments or sharing of other programs which help look after the mental health of our future citizens, who will lead the way forward into all of our futures. They need all the help they can get.

Doom and Gloom – Breathing Exercise Helps Rid Negative Feelings.

Let’s talk about doom and gloom, then move to talk about positivity and hope and what you can do on an individual level!

There is so much doom and gloom in the world, locally, nationally and internationally and I think you will agree that there is a lack of good news stories. How uplifting it is to watch, read or hear about news of a positive nature. Someone’s great achievement, overcoming odds, people banding together, donating time and money for a cause they believe in.

It is so true, that bad news travels fast and the media thrives on bad news. I wonder what that is all about? Could there be something there within us also, that thrives on drama, this thing  somehow relates better to negative things which actually increases our stress levels. Maybe on a deeper level of consciousness, it makes our lives more bearable, our crosses lighter to bear.

Let’s turn this around to focusing on and holding the intention of improvement and hope. Begin by bringing things back to ourselves and when we read, see, or hear bad news, choose to release our feelings of judgment. We can choose to imagine and understand that the universe does work in mysterious ways. Let us hold the vision of an ideal of ‘it’ being for a reason and that there is growth in it for the ones involved. To take away suffering can deny ones the ability and opportunity to be self determining and learn through trauma.

On a personal note, are we focusing outside ourselves to distract from self-effort? Or are we putting responsibility and blame outside ourselves onto others? Usually we are in situations of our own making (I believe this to be 100% true). This leads to a realisation that if we are unhappy about what we have created, we can also seek help outside of ourself with a person, mentor, counsellor or other person we may think of who is a few steps ahead of us on the path.

Bringing it down to small managable steps, what about baby steps? Instead of trying to solve all of our problems in a day, what is one thing that we can do to take ourself forward today?

Oftentimes we take one step and do something, which creates movement; unseen forces then work with us and support us moving forward. Rather like that beautiful poem ‘Footsteps in the Sand’ by Mary Stevenson.

I will share how easily you can change your state with some laughter and simple breathing and this way, you can just ‘fall into doing it’. Take note of how your body is feeling right now and then go ahead as follows.

Laughter is the best medicine and now, take a deep breath and as you are breathing out, quietly or loudly, laugh, hahahahaha. Now breathe in again and as you laugh out again, do so more deeply. And again, do it three times.

If you prefer, it can be quieter laughter with the mouth closed. If you feel to open your mouth and laugh wholeheartedly, please do. It is your exercise and experience.

Now how do you feel? A little or lot lighter? Your perspective has probably changed for the better.

Here is another little thing that you can try. Standing is preferable for this exercise; we will do a little deeper breathing, using our arms and hands. Try this two ways, first with one long deep breath and then two short, deep breaths.

It goes like this. Standing if you will, arms stretched out straight from the shoulders, on the in-breath, bring your hands in to chest then stretch them back out in front on the out breath saying ‘ha’. Rest a little being conscious of your body limits then repeat with two or three breaths in, breathing through the nose. This can be described as sniffing breaths. Then a long breath out through the nose. The hands can be left to do their own thing, naturally you will bring them in on the in-breath as fists or open hands on the chest.

My suggestion is to do this exercise in the morning to get your energy flowing and at night, even as well in the middle of the day and monitor the difference it makes to you. Once you have mastered it, it can be done at any time, even without the outstretched hands and arm movements. If you hold the intention of it assisting your body, however you need it, your subconscious mind will work with you and make it automatic and success is assured in helping you to be freer from stress, conscious, in the moment and grounded.

As I am a Laughter Yoga coach, I enjoy combining Laughter Yoga and coaching, believing there is a lot that we can do to help ourselves lead a happier, less stressful life. This can be done as outlined, in baby steps, to simply decide to do small, regular practices to experiment and if they work, incorporate these helpful things into our everyday lives. When we are happier, less stressed and becoming more joyful, finding fun in little simple things, the world around us changes and our upliftment helps those around us and ultimately, is a positive effect on the planet and those upon it. I invite you to email me about this sharing if you wish to or need clarification about the breathing exercise.

Love and laughter blessings.
Lynette Mitchell xxx ooo

Inhibitions, Stress and Bringing Laughter Yoga to VCE Psychology Students.

Who likes to get out of their comfort zone? It can be a rewarding experience to stretch yourself and the more that it becomes ‘normal’ the more comfortable you will be with unexpected things. The only constant thing in this world is change and every day is like a new day in your life, with things around you constantly changing. At times it is hard to get comfortable with your life situation and keep that familiarity. Do you agree with me?

Recently I was given the opportunity to provide three laughter yoga sessions for Beaconhills Secondary College at Berwick, which was from what I gathered, a top notch school. Specifically I was brought to share about laughter yoga and the benefits of it, Year 12 Psychology students.

These students are presently under enormous pressure, reaching the final lap of their school life. Just think, ten or eleven counting preps, compounding into these last few weeks, studying hard, feverishly catching up on all this year’s work before exam time?

It was interesting and important for the psychology students to learn about other ways of dealing with stress and how to recognise it. Two of the groups were better prepared by their teacher in class, having learnt about the body’s responses to stress, encompassing breathing and relaxation techniques and biofeedback.

What was in it for me also was observing in the first two groups, how completely different they were because of the peer group dynamics, the first group having a strong leader, which was not the case in the second group. The teacher also observed this, commenting that she had expected one particular boy to step up and take that role.

The next week when I returned to do one more laughter yoga session, that group were also very well prepared by their teacher and I shared with her that I felt to stretch them and go a little deeper. I felt to encourage them to drastically get out of their comfort zone, if that was the case as is quite usual when we do something for the first time. Especially ‘laughing for no reason’ as laughter yoga is called and a lot of people get out of the habit of laughing and find it difficult to do without someone else telling a joke or funny story.

The teacher agreed and explained that she had been with some of them all their school lives, trusted her and would do what she asked of them. Interesting indeed because I asked them to observe their feelings at the start, might check half way through their session and at the end. This was different for me, as the kids were old enough to approach this laughter yoga session in a way that could enhance their learnings, being given opportunities to witness their feelings as never before. In particular I shared how the one group with the strong leader looked to him and the next one felt disempowered, not entirely joining in wholeheartedly. I suggested participating fully, choosing to as an exercise, even if it did feel strange and uncomfortable, not to say that it would, but most likely would start like that at least a little bit.

Well they were fantastic and when their attention lagged at one stage, I brought them back, reminded them of their agreement to participate as fully as they were able to and they then re-engaged with the exercises.

Towards the end another great example of how easy it is to lose focus, something that I am personally forever working on, staying focused with the intention to stick with things and not get distracted.

In came a student who was having a birthday. We sang happy birthday using ‘ha ha ha, instead of the words and in the next exercise, they didn’t get into it at all. I stopped them, pointed out how the energy dropped, asked if they felt it, which they did and said ‘let’s do it again and this time fully participate’. Well it was a complete turn around and proved a point or two.

After we finished the laughter meditation, which is lying or sitting relaxed with free laughter, we had time for a relaxation. This went down very well too, which surprised me as sometimes children/people can even get uncomfortable with being still, quiet ‘doing nothing’ and start to giggle, distracting those who really want to simply relax their body, mind and emotions.

Love to hear of any other schools who would be interested in bringing some laughter too. It is tailor made, according to the school’s requirements, whether it be sharing laughter with relaxation, meditation, affirmations, games etc. I personally feel the world would be a better place for children to keep up the habit of laughter. Also learning the benefits to be had and holding on to this most precious and natural gift, as it sure is easy to lose it as we get older and so much harder to bring something back once it is gone. Many of you will be nodding your heads in agreement with me right there.

Thanks for reading, sharing and I am sending out lots of love, light and laughter blessings.

Lynette Mitchell xxx ooo