The Best Medicine

I love to laugh — who doesn’t? And I really love the way I feel after a good long hearty laugh; there’s a special sense of well-being that lingers after laughter. The other night I fell asleep still giggling after watching a comedy video; what a weird way to fall asleep, I said to myself, chuckling even more at my own foolishness. The next morning I woke up feeling much more cheery than usual, and my week-long nausea was gone, too. This was not just my imagination or wishful thinking; belly laughs have profound and measurable health benefits.

Laughter induces a wonderful set of hormones called endorphins, our own natural painkillers, some of them ten times stronger than morphine, and all of them able to modulate the immune system. Endorphins not only relieve pain (both emotional and physical), they also wake up our own natural defenses against infections, cancer, even auto-immune disease (modulation means bringing levels to the optimal mid-range). What a gift! I want more of this, for myself and for my dear patients!

That’s why I searched so hard to find a laughter yoga class nearby. I wanted to feel that good, and I wanted that boost of healing energy, as often as possible. But laughter yoga is not easy to find these days, so in the end I had to create the class myself. I recruited the finest Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher in Beaverton, Ms. Kelly Hobson, a petite lady with a contagious, booming belly laugh. Together we are offering a monthly series of participatory workshops. I don’t know how long we’ll keep it up; as long as it’s fun, I suppose. Goodness knows it’s not profitable, it’s just a labor of love. But oh, the joy we all feel during our 60 minutes of giggles, silliness, ho-ho-ho’s, and yoga-style breathing exercises.

And then there’s the goofy grin that’s still stuck on my face when I wake up the next morning. I could get used to feeling this good!

Our local newspaper, the Southwest Community Connection, got wind of our workshops, and featured us in the Oct. 2011 issue, here: Providing ‘the best medicine’

And the New York TImes explained what’s going on with all those wonderful endorphins, here: Laughter Produces Endorphins, NYTimes