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A serious case of the giggles

 | June 2, 2012

Laughter sessions are gaining popularity in Malaysia and elsewhere.

IF you see a group of people in an open Petaling Jaya park laughing their hearts off for no apparent reason, resist the temptation to label them lunatics.

They’re probably in the throes of a laughter session, which incidentally is gaining popularity in Malaysia and around the world.

The first laughter club was founded by Dr Madan Kataria of India who got the idea while doing research for an article called—you guessed it—“Laughter the Best Medicine”. From just the five people he gathered in a Mumbai park in 1995, the giggles have grown to well over 60,000 laughter clubs in 60 countries today.

In an interview with CNN, Dr Kataria said, “You don’t need a sense of humour to laugh. You don’t even need to feel happy.” It seems that the body’s chemicals cannot tell if you mean it or fake it, but the feel-good effect is there all the same.

In Malaysia, Dr Dilip Kumar holds laughter sessions on a regular basis and, jokes aside, doesn’t charge a sen for it. His sessions are jam-packed with 60 to 100 chuckling people bent over, holding their sides and having deep-from-the belly laughs.

Dr Dilip is, among other things, a yoga instructor and hypnosis counsellor. According to him, laughter is non-sectarian. “It does not know race, creed or religion. Nature created laughter as a healing system for our bodies because when we laugh, our bodies release pent-up emotions that cause tension.”

Even medical research has proven that laughter is indeed the best medicine. It decreases stress hormones, improves the immune system and boosts endorphins, the brain’s chemical associated with a runner’s high.

Dr. Dilip adds: “Laughter is also known to remove joint pains, is good for the respiratory system as it discharges toxins from the lungs and will keep you looking younger as it stretches your facial muscles.” Now, that’s no laughing matter.

So therapeutic is laughter that laughing classes are held regularly for senior citizens, school kids, prisoners, factory workers, the physically and mentally challenged as well as cancer patients—all  all over the world.

So the next time you need a pick-me-up, don’t reach for the chocolate, have a chuckle instead.

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