Friday, June 3, 2011

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Last night, I had front row seats to a fantastical Bollywood musical!  From dream standards, the REM portion of this magnificent reverie probably lasted no longer than a fraction of a minute or possibly two, but in my dream, I was dancing all night long in Bollywood.

This morning, I Googled laughter and India, and wouldn't you know it, came across an extraordinary movement created by Dr. Madan Kataria, a medical doctor from Bombay, India, who started group laughter exercises after having researched the health benefits of laughter. 

Since starting, this 'Guru of Giggling' (London Times) has inspired the opening of over 6,000 Laughter Yoga clubs in 60 countries.

This reminded me of Hunter Doherty "Patch" Adams, M.D., the physician who inspired the film Patch Adams starring Robin Williams. In his early life, a series of traumatic events left young Adams severely depressed, after which he became suicidal. After being hospitalized, he came to the realization that he shouldn't kill himself but rather "make a revolution" - in his case, a revolution for love, peace, and justice. 

Robin Williams reportedly earned $21 million dollars for his role playing Patch Adams, and I'm sorry to say, according to Patch Adams, "did not give $10 to (his) free hospital. Patch Adams, the person, would have...given all 21 million dollars to a free hospital in a country where 80 million cannot get care."

I can't help but feel the two revolutions are of the same energy strand. Following this strand, led me to The Humor Project, the first project in the world to focus full-time on the positive power of humor. Seeking to get more 'smileage' out of life and apply "the practical, positive power of humor and creativity," this organization is hosting its 54th international conference in Saratoga Springs, NY, on the shores of Lake George.  

In 1979, Norman Cousins, MD wrote Anatomy of Illness, which brought humor therapy to the attention of the medical community. As a result, studies have been published on the health benefits of laughter, which lower blood pressure and the hormones associated with stress, strengthen the immune system, relax muscles and reduce pain, stimulate both sides of the brain, cleanse the lungs, and may even help protect against heart attacks. With so many emotional, mental, and physical benefits, why not laugh our way to a healthier life? 

"Find your funny" is good advice to anyone wanting the keep the fun going in their lives. You don't have to be a standup comic, per se, but like comedians, make it your mission to make your audience laugh, be that yourself and others, and you're guaranteed a lifetime of entertainment.

Sorry, still closed for renovations!

Opening soon in a Heaven near you...

 Plato said that 'even the gods love jokes.'

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