M laughter video recordings are at this link.
Buddha's smile This is practised in an upright sitting position. Eyes are closed and the muscles which are not necessary for maintaining posture are relaxed. We pull the corners of the mouth slightly sideways and upwards and at the same time draw the outer ears to the head. The psychological effect of the practice should be peaceful.
Advantages: It can give you the feeling of wise, peaceful joy.
Perils: It is safe, as long as you are sufficiently aware of your surroundings and the situation.
Inner laughter This is also practised in an upright sitting position. The muscles which are not necessary for maintaining posture are relaxed, and the eyes are open. We imagine that the inner parts of the eyes are glaring with gold light and this light is projected outwards. A more difficult variation is to practice with the eyes closed and to direct the golden light to various parts of the body.
Advantages: You will be charming.
Perils: Minimal, if you do not consider it a disadvantage that charmed people will bother you with their affection. To replace anger, anxiety and boredom by laughter fantasy When queuing at an airport counter you may, e.g. devise as many funny obstacles as possible to discourage travelling.
Advantages: Your inner freedom increases.
Perils: Perhaps those expecting you to react with anger or fear may be disappointed. Laughter with breathing This can be practised also when walking. During inhalation we are aware of the incoming breath in the nostrils and repeat mentally "I breathe peace". When exhaling we repeat "I breathe out and smile"
Advantages: Discreet and unobtrusive. To practice for a short time may be enough.
Perils: You should not practice it when dealing with hungry lions and in similar situation when absolute concentration is required.
To laugh at fear, laziness or depression Most of us know that certain unpleasant thoughts appear more often than others (e. g. fear that your relatives may suffer an accident). You can greet such familiar thoughts with laughter as old friends.
Advantages: It improves self-awareness and detachment.
Perils: Minimal, you laugh about your thoughts, not about yourself.
Perils: Think twice before sharing your funny ideas with other people.
Exaggerate Some terribly serious looking matter can be blown up to utter absurdity.
Advantages: You can use it to lampoon whatever you like.
Perils: Other people may not be overjoyed to hear such exaggerations about their habits, diets, beliefs or plans how to save mankind.
Seek humour in everyday situations Dogs, their masters, bathing blackbirds and our own deeds are a few examples.
Advantages: Many fine excuses to laugh (if you need them).
Perils: Some people are rather touchy. Paradoxes Look for humour in paradoxes of life, e.g. many more people are killed by bees and even more by electric Christmas candles than by ferocious sharks.
Advantages: New unexpected reasons for laughter
Adding a laughter cue To every matter or word, however grim it may be, you can add your laughter cue. Probably best cue would be "ha, ha, ha", but you can use whatever word or sound which you connect with laughter. An example: "Reminder, ha, ha, ha".
Advantages: It can be used also in stressful situations.
Perils: If you practice in your mind, it is OK, but otherwise people may enquire what is laughable about reminders.
To laugh silently in your heart Concentrate deep in the middle of the chest at the level of your heart. Smile there silently. It may be difficult at the beginning. After succeeding remember the feeling which comes with it.
Advantages: Gentle, nice, cordial.
Perils: Few if any.
Background laughter It is rather difficult. Let the cheery part of your personality laugh while at the same time attending to your normal daily activities. It is like background music which allows talking, work or shopping.
Advantages: You can practice it almost continuously for long periods of time.
Perils: Beware of the situations requiring a different approach, such as listening to the complaints of customers.
Lower your laughter threshold Laugh when you are used to laugh but increase your sensitivity to these situations, for example you may find dogs with long hairs laughable. In the future laugh even when meeting dogs with middle long hairs. (Provided that they do not attack you.)
Advantages: The amount of laughter in your life will increase
Perils: See above.
Stress and laughter To prevent and/or counteract stress you can use any of the ways of laughter mentioned here, if appropriate. Think in advance of stressful situations which you expect and plan how to cope with them and laugh at them. If you know somebody who would be able to do it, imitate him/her.
Advantages: Laughter protects you from the negative effects of stress.
Perils: Laughter lowers your muscle tension, that is why it is not good idea to laugh when you need a full physical strength.
2. The ways of laughter which can be practised in public but with some caution
Laughter with a book or a walkman If you would like to laugh for no reason in public, you can open a book or wear the headphones of a walkman. Other people will assume that you are reading or listening to something funny, and you can laugh as you wish.
Advantages: In this way you can enjoy even the legal code.
Perils: Somebody may look over your shoulder to see what humorous book you are reading, and he/she may be disgusted by the articles of the legal code.
Laughter and the muscles of the face Relax your face, especially your jaw. The corners of the mouth pull up and back. Relax your eyes and narrow your eyelids slightly to create small wrinkles at the corners of your eyes. Be aware of your muscles and your emotional experience. After this, add to the basic expression of smile and laughter other feelings, and be aware what kind of muscles will become active (e. g. during a surprised smile the eyebrows may rise).
Advantages: Lively facial expression usually looks better than a motionless or numb face.
Perils: You should take into account the situation, e. g. a merciful smile may not calm down your angry boss.
Laughter with the stomach Smile in a choking way with the mouth closed during exhalation with or without any sound.
Advantages: Its mild form can be practised in public.
Perils: It is better to practice without much force. This applies especially to people with hernia, glaucoma, eye bleeding, advanced piles, serious heart problems, the prolapse of the uterus, incontinency and during pregnancy to avoid the increase of the pressure inside the abdomen.
Laughter aids Your laughter hardware may include humorous books, comic objects, such as clown noses, funny caps or T-shirts with unbelievable inscriptions, laughable recordings or films, rubber lizards or snakes and laughter boxes.
Advantages: You can use them also as Christmas gifts.
Perils: Some expenses.
Laughter bag (It works, if your multimedia is on.)
Laughter diary Record there whatever makes you laugh.
Advantages: You can not only write there, but also read it later on, ha, ha, ha.
Perils: Minimal, if you are careful enough whom to show it and whom not.
Simile Think up funny comparisons, e. g. you may find somebody rather slow as dynamic as a satiated hippopotamus in the midday sun.
Advantages: Your creativity and fantasy will develop.
Perils: The person resembling a hippo may not agree.
Work playfully At least from time to time regard your work as play. Ask yourself: "What would I do now, if this work is my pastime?"
Advantages: Playfulness and creativity are related.
Perils: Do not play with nuclear reactors, there is bad experience in this respect.
Let various parts of your body laugh Let e. g. your back or other overburdened part of your body laugh.
Advantages: It will relax and will feel better.
Perils: It is not recommended when muscle performance is required (e. g. when you move your pianoforte).
Be aware of your funny thoughts and deeds Once a day reflect on your most funny ideas and acts and laugh at them.
Advantages: You will become more open, less defensive, and will cope with stress better.
Perils: Minimal, provided you learn to grin at yourself and love yourself at the same time.
Your humour Find out what kind of humour appeals most to you (English, childish, nonsense, verbal, certain pictures or recordings, etc.).
Advantages: You will increase your self-understanding and self-acceptance.
Perils: Few if any.
Fake it till you make it It is an old principle of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) recommending the participation in AA activities without much thinking about reasons. The reasons will become apparent only after some time of sobriety. You may laugh in a similar manner. Do not deny your real feelings, but behave for a few minutes as a very mirthful person.
Advantages: Existing feelings are not denied but the new emotions appear.
Perils: Too much slapping your thighs may be painful.
Storytelling Remember or even better write down funny stories and jokes and tell them to other people. The effect of jokes and stories is greater when they are somehow related to the present situation.
Advantages: Your communication skills will increase. If other people begin to laugh (I cannot guarantee this), you may join them.
Perils: Some stories and jokes may be related to the present situation but may not be suitable.
Listening to jokes Ask somebody to tell you a joke or funny story.
Advantages: Your laughter will probably make that person happy.
Perils: Some jokes are terrible. At least you will realise what does not appeal to you.
Seek laughing people Your loud laughter will be accepted there better than on the premises of a city graveyard. Be choosy also about the companions coming to you via media, and select comedies rather than horror movies.
Advantages: Possibly new good-humoured friends
Perils: Minimal, if you distinguish between cheerfulness and recklessness.
Laugh with children Children laugh much more often than adults without any apparent reason. Join them.
Advantages: It makes both children and adults feel good.
Perils: I cannot remember any.
More laughter in your relationships Smile more often at your friends and relatives, point out funny things to each other, tell each other humorous stories, send or write down humorous messages, and laugh together a lot.
Advantages: It may strengthen your relationships.
Perils: None, if you are tactful enough.
The principle of the third gag It is a good idea to repeat the gag three times. After the third repetition of slipping on the banana skin or stumbling the laughter is strongest. Do not repeat the gag for the fourth time, otherwise people will not smile but think that it will persist for ever.
Advantages: After the third gag you may join the laughter.
Perils: The risks of banana skin are obvious, especially if they are used more than once.
Cosmic smile With eyes closed concentrate in the centre of your chest at the heart level. Let your heart smile (as in the practice "to laugh silently in your heart"). Let the waves of laughter spread to the whole body and even outside. The laughter waves may even reach distant countries, continents and planets.
Advantages: An inexpensive and safe way to join cheerful beings around the universe.
Perils: It may be difficult at the beginning.
Animals and laughter Suitable animals include e. g. kittens, guinea pigs, rabbits and various birds.
Advantages: Animals usually do not object to your laughter. I suspect that sometimes they may consider people funny.
Perils: Some funny animals, such as electric stingrays, jaguars and vipers, should preferably be avoided.
Laughter against anxiety, anger and boredom It is said that laughter against anxiety or fear is high pitched and fast, laughter against anger is deep and throaty, and laughter against boredom is musical, melodic and appealing. Try all these ways of laughter at the beginning in normal circumstances, and later on when you need to counteract respective negative emotions.
Advantages: Greater control over your emotions.
Perils: The circumstances should be taken into account. E, g., if you are a tender woman, deep and throaty laughter may surprise your hair-dresser.
3. The ways of laughter which are not usually practised in the public
Gradual laughter (2)
It can be practised alone or in a group. We start with a serious expression, and only gradually smile and laugh more and more, sometimes ending with an uncontrolled fit of laughter.
Advantages: Your emotions become more dynamic and you will experience how easily they may change.
Perils: Forceful practice should be avoided in people with hernia, glaucoma, eye bleeding, advanced piles, serious heart problems, prolapse of the uterus, incontinency and during pregnancy. As long as the practice is mild, the risks are few if any.
Laughter discussion This is practised in pairs. Discuss with your partner something funny using only your non-verbal communication and the syllables "ha, ha, ha".
Advantages: A nice chat.
Perils: Additional explanation may clarify possible misunderstandings.
Laughter with the legs Lie flat on the back, raise both legs and make cycling movements with them. Make similar movements with the hands. At the same time repeat the syllables "ha, ha, ha - ho, ho, ho - he, he, he - hi, hi, hi - ha, ha, ha - ho, ho, ho - he, he, he - hi, hi, hi - ha, ha, ha - ho, ho, ho - he, he, he - hi, hi, hi..., etc.
Advantages: Your fitness will increase.
Perils: This practice is rather loud and physically demanding. It should be avoided in people with hernia, glaucoma, eye bleeding, advanced piles, serious heart problems, prolapse of the uterus, incontinency and during pregnancy.
A happy toddler Kneel on the floor and support your body by your hands. Make various funny movements with your head, shoulders, trunk and pelvis. Move on all fours to face various directions and smile happily. You need not smile 300 times every day, as normal toddlers do.
Advantages: Your spine may like it very much, especially after long sitting. Additional fun when practised with other toddlers (regardless of their real age) can be expected.
Perils: The knees may become dirty.
Roaring lion In a sitting position stretch your arms. The palms facing downwards and forwards, the fingers stretched and widely apart. Push out your tongue as far as possible and at the same time stretch all the muscles of the face. Eyes remain open. You can either look at the tip of your nose or between your eyebrows. Breathe in a normal manner and retain this posture as long as comfortable. After this lie down or sit, and be aware of the feelings in your body (there may be warmth in the face and relaxation around the vocal cords) and also recognise your emotional feelings (3).
Advantages: Suppressed emotions can be released. When practised in a group, participants often laugh loudly which is also fine. Beside this, the roaring lion exercise is helpful to people who overuse their voice (e.g. teachers).
Perils: It looks terrible, but it's safe.
Pygmies laughter African Pygmies fall down on the ground when they laugh (4). Their height is small, so it may not be too painful, certainly not so painful to prevent them from continuing laughing on the ground. You should fall down carefully. When on the ground you may turn over as you wish.
Advantages: The muscle tension decreases during laughter. You don't need any muscles on the ground and so you can relax completely.
Perils: They are obvious. It should not be practised on swampland, when cleaning sewage or when walking on stubble.
Self-confident laughter Stand firmly with your legs apart. Remember the situation when you overcame some problem or mastered a difficult situation. Repeat "ha-ha-ha ..." loudly or silently and gently beat your upper chest with your fists.
Advantages: Beside the psychological effects, the thymus and immunity is stimulated in this way according to A. Goodheart (4).
Perils: It is quite safe.
Singing laughter It is also practised at the Laughter Clubs by Dr. Kataria. Sing the syllable "ho, ho" or "ha, ha" to whatever tune you like.
Advantages: It may improve your mood.
Perils: It should not be used with the tune of your national anthem in public.
Laughter with the hands Stand with the feet together and move the fists toward the shoulders. When exhaling, we stretch the arms forward forcefully, stretch the fingers and repeat loudly: "I am cheerful". Move the fists back to the shoulders when inhaling. When exhaling stretch the arms sideways in a similar manner and repeat: "I am jolly". Move again back to the shoulders, and when exhaling stretch the arms above the head, raise the heels coming up onto the toes and repeat: "I am happy".
Advantages: Very energetic.
Perils: Some people jump too high during this exercise.
Morning laughter Obviously it is practised in the morning. As soon as you get up, smile at your image in the mirror. You may feel that this is silly and because of this smile even more.
Advantages: Simple and not time consuming..
Perils: None, if you are not overtly concerned with your morning appearance.
Notes: 1. Provine, R. R.: Laughter. A scientific investigation. Viking, New York, 2000, pp. 258.
2. It is similar to Dr. Kataria's "Gradient laugher", the only difference is that here we start with a serious expression which may increase the effect because of the tendency of emotions to change into their opposite.
3. This is a yogic practice. Its more sophisticated variation is called simhagarjanasana (roaring lion pose) in the 1996 edition of "Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Bandha" by Swami Satyananda Saraswati.
4. Goodheart, A.: Laughter therapy. Less Stress Press, Santa Barbara, 1994, pp. 162.
4. How To Cope With Problems
5. Words of Wisdom for Your Week
6. Make others laugh
Some people laugh their whole lives through
They know how to laugh and make others laugh.
Other people spend their whole life crying
Tell me which kind are you?
Laughter is and art.
Sometimes laughter comes spontaneously
But that's a different thing.
Later such persons also cry.
But when you know how to laugh
And make others laugh, you will never cry again.
When you see somebody laughing
You can't control yourself, you must join in.
Therefore the person who can make other laugh
Is really in tune with himself and with them.
So how will you learn the art of laugher,
This most excellent of yogas?
If you really wish to perfect it
You will have to consider your life as a joke,
For life begins in one second and in one second it ends.
Even when you cry consider your crying as the greatest joke.
Because of its temporary nature
You can't maintain the state of tears
Before long you will be tired.
But you can laugh constantly, day and night
For there are many ways to laugh.
You can laugh loudly or softly,
You can just smile, or laugh silently in your mind,
But you will never tire of laughing
And you will benefit greatly from it too.
Now I'll tell you a secret,
If you don't want to cry, then learn how to laugh.
How? You will find the way.