You may not know this, but I am in fact a certified laughter instructor. It’s not often I get a chance to practice it, so I offered to do some laughter exercises at the Practice of Peace conference, and it went extremely well. The evening started with playback theatre, or as our coach called it, playbak thee-AY-ter. It’s a form of improv where we did a very simple exercise that we’d tried earlier in the day called living statues. Practicing it in a small group was nerve-wracking enough and doing it in front of an audience of 40 people was downright scary. Fortunately people were very appreciative and it went quite well. After that this amazingly talented guy called Martin did juggling and comedy, and he was good and funny.
Finally we got to the laughter exercises. I’d kinda expected this crowd to go for it, and they LOVED it. We started with a simple warm-up, progressed to some basic laughter exercises, and before long people were laughing up a storm. It was great to see people hugging and laughing or arguing and laughing (two of the exercises).
The exercises are based on the principle that by pretending to laugh, essentially faking laughter, you’re getting the same physical results that you would if you were actually laughing. Of course what usually happens is that you feel so silly faking laughter that you end up laughing for real – without anything to laugh at. It feels really good and it’s lots of fun. You can read more about it at laughteryoga.org. People kept coming up to me the rest of the conference and thanking me for it, and that tells me that laughter is probably a large part of the practice of peace.