"A day without
laughter is a day wasted" ring the words of Charlie Chaplin. A happy person is
a beautiful person, most anticipated guest to occasions. And laughter being the
highest form of expression of joy and happiness also serves curative purposes. Dr.
Mukund Mehta. M.D., the Founder and Convener of Laughing Club Ahmedabad,
explains how a good hearty laugh offers health benefits at literally no cost.
Author of 'Fitness', winner of the Gujarat Sahitya Academy in 1999, Dr. Mehta
M.D. speaks to Medindia
Q. You are a medical doctor, a pathologist and a fitness
specialist, how were you convinced about Laughter Therapy?
A. It began
with the desire to do good to the society, to contribute beneficially to the
overall well being of people. Most were not aware of their health problems and
were not living life to the fullest. I would mention American psychiatrist, Dr.
William Fry who used laughter as a therapy and observed people cured of
physical and mental illnesses. Similar results were exhibited in patients of
Dr. Robert Holden and Dr. Norman Cousins, both highly acclaimed in the field of
medicine especially through Laughter Therapy.
Apart from my medical
accomplishments, my experience stretches to 40 years in the realm of Exercise
and Fitness since my training with Dr. Kenneth Cooper's aerobic centre at
Dallas, Texas. In my experience and extensive research I'm certain and have
seen that Laughter Therapy along with a healthy diet has cured many ailments.
Q. Yoga is incorporated a lot in Laughter Therapy, so how
much credit do you give laughter in the therapeutic process?
A. Any fitness programme has a whole body
workout with 70% of aerobics, 15% of muscular workout and 15% to encourage
flexibility. Before beginning the laughter therapy, the warm up exercises
include drills for external and internal muscles, for joints and breathing. Once
the laughter therapy session begins the blood circulation gets faster and
travels to the brain instigating the chemical neuro-transmitters to function
with a higher frequency. Endorphins secreted
relieve pain and stress. Given my fitness training since 1986, I framed an apt
mode for the needs of Laughter Therapy that's seen today.
Q. How do you get a person to laugh when there's nothing to
provoke them to laugh? How does a person manage to continue laughing?
A. Initially the laugh is artificial and
then with practice they laugh for prolonged periods. However when in a group,
they don't feel any restraint. If they cannot make it to the club, they can
practice at home. Whether a laugh is artificial or real, neurotransmitters such
as Norepinephrine and Serotonin, which reduce pain and enhance mood are
secreted. These are manufactured as anti-depressants by companies but laughter
induces them in the brain naturally. Also since laughing reduces the production
of Cortisol, it perks up blood circulation.
Q. Who are the most who seek and find remedy from Laughter
A. There are members of all ages in the
Laughter Club. All are welcome. However people with certain medical conditions
are recommended against practicing Laughter therapy. The list includes people
with glaucoma, any kind of hernia, profuse bleeding during menstrual cycle and
prolapsed uterus and bleeding piles and fissures.
Q. How should one laugh? What is the healthiest way to
A. I have developed 3 types of laughter: a)
Atta Hasya [Full-hearted Laughter] b) Maun Hasya [Silent Laughter c) Ashwa
Hasya [ Horse Laughter].
In three cycles of
Laughter Therapy Exercises, warm up is done 63 times, three types of laughter
are done 45 times and cooling down is done 45 times. The
basic principle of Laughter Therapy is to increase the capacity of lungs to
take 6 to 8 times more oxygen.
Q. What are the best hours to practice laughter therapy and
where is the ideal environment?
A. One should do laughter therapy exercise
preferably in garden or open space early in the morning when the air is fresh.
You don't need any special apparel to practice laughter therapy. When you do in
a group you meet other people, you'll be motivated to be regular and exercise
more. The result is good health if practiced regularly.
Q. Stress is starting to get to people of all ages, so how
are the youngsters reacting to Laughter Therapy? How do you think youngsters
would find Laughter Therapy helpful in their lives?
A.I have observed that a person engaged in
Laughter Therapy exercises for a period of only 20 days gets habituated and
they come to the Laughing Club regularly.
Also, as mentioned earlier,
it has been proved through experiments that laughter is a mood enhancer. In my
experience a couple of young office-going and business people did share with
me that they felt lighter and less stressed following this therapy.
J.R.D. Tata, well-known as one of the eminent
businessmen of India, expressed his understanding of the core human values and
the secret to a healthy community when he said, "I do not want India to be an
economic superpower. I want India to be a happy country." That's the
dream Dr. Mukund Mehta is accomplishing with The Laughing Club. Since its
inception the club has been growing in number with enthusiastic members
laughing merrily together. Dr. Mukund Mehta has done justice to his intention
of doing service to the society by keeping them blithely healthy.