Laughter Therapy sessions at the nearby park?? An experience from my life...
| LAUGHTER THERAPY
About a mile from my house was once an open ground. The piece of land was bare except for garbage which was continuously being dumped there as a dumping area. The piling reached to such an extent that we found it extremely difficult to live there. As expected , the sight was not only an eye-sore but also the home to rats, mosquitoes , snakes and many different animals and insects of the wild. It turned out to be quite hazardous to our health too.
The elders of our neighbourhood and many big influential well off men , after months of waiting , finally approached the local municipality of our area and registered a complaint regarding the misuse of public property. But as always, any complaint or request put forward to local authorities hardly take off. And even if they do, then it will be at least a couple of years after which the common man gets to see some progress.
Luckily, this time, action was taken quite early and in a couple of months, the garbage pile was cleared and the land was spotless. In another three to four months, to everyone's greatest surprise, a beautiful park was created in its space. Play items for kids which included swings, slides , happy merry-go rounds, see-saws and a whole new range of jumping and dangling assortments were erected on one side. On the other side of the park fancy gym equipment were erected for the older people and the youth who had a love for exercise and fitness. The park was bordered with beautiful flowers of varying shapes, sizes and colours which radiated peace, calm and happiness to all who came there.
I often come to this park to study early in the mornings when the calmness fills the sky and ground to their depths. The mornings are cool and fresh and have no sign of pollution until the glimpse of the first vehicle is seen on the road. At around 5:30 a. m, the milkman and the paper boy are seen going on their rounds, delivering paper and milk to different houses. It would still be dark with a few street lights shining dimly around the corners. Later , after about half an hour, enthusiastic joggers and cyclists would be seen on the roads, their fluorescent shirts and shoes radiating in the street light. The bells of the cycles and the chirping of the birds created a happy atmosphere to all who started their day in nature's presence.
It was around this time, that I usually came to the park with my books . The first few weeks after the park was set up saw only children playing in the evenings with no trace of adults. Later on, the elders of the neighbourhood started coming to the park to walk and try out the gym equipment. It was indeed a happy sight for me to share my morning with people from different backgrounds; people I had never known before. It was quite surprising and embarrassing for some to learn that all these people , at least most of them , lived around their house. In this modern age of technology, one hardly gets to know the person living next door let alone people living in the next street. For weeks together, introductions would go on between people with invites for lunch and dinner, just to enhance one's relationships.
Since I came to the park almost daily, I got to know most of the regular visitors . A couple of them even sat by my side and volunteered to help me in my studies. The people I knew were of different age groups; some were students of my age whereas the others were housewives, doctors , teachers or even nature lovers. I learnt a lot from living amidst them even if it was just for one hour a day.
There were people of varying interests and talents who came to the park. Among them was a woman who was a stamp and a coin collector. Her collection was so vast that it included currencies and stamps from almost all the countries in the world. She often brought her neatly arranged album of stamps and coins to the park and proudly displayed it all who wished to see but never forgave anyone who extended his or her hand to see them at a closer distance! There was also a man who was an incredible classical singer. His music often filled the air in the mornings as he ran across the circumference of the park, huffing and puffing. Apart from them, there was an exceptional group of middle aged men and women who never walked, exercised or came to try the gym equipment in the park ,but only to catch up on the latest gossip. The topics discussed varied from food dishes prepared in each one's homes to the latest phone brands, from the hot or cold weather to the latest gossip about the girl next door in 'extremely short skirt' talking to an unknown stranger! How people loved talking!
One day as I walked to the park as usual with my books tucked under my arm , I beheld a strange sight. There was a great gurgling happy sound coming from one corner of the park. Turning and walking in the direction of the bubbling sound, which I later came to realise in surprise, was laughter. I witnessed the funniest sight ever.
About twenty people of mixed age groups stood on the raised platform of the sidewalk and ...were laughing. There was no cause or reason for them to do so. They were simply mirthful, ecstatic and seemed to enjoy themselves thoroughly for some reason as was quite obvious from their actions. Some of them were clapping their hands in great delight whereas others thumped their neighbours on the back.
The sight was merry indeed and it brought a smile on everyone's faces. But I was curious beyond doubt about their strange gestures. I asked a few onlookers but received no answer as they themselves were amused. After about half an hour, everyone dispersed and the park became nearly empty. I gathered my books and got ready to leave. It was then that I heard a few elders speaking. It was not intentional and I knew it was wrong to eavesdrop but I just could not resist myself from hearing what they were talking about.
" Today's session was lively, wasn't it?" asked one man to another
"Yes definitely, I just hope it turns out to be cheerful and enthusiastic always" he replied
I wondered what session they were talking about. I wanted to go forward and ask them but stopped as I was getting late anyways. I quickly hurried on.
After that day's incident, this ritual turned out to be a daily affair. Every morning , at the corner of the park, I would see a huge crowd huddled together, laughing and singing loudly. The strength of the group increased by the day and at the end of one week, There were around thirty people laughing their hearts out and singing in nature's delight.
One day unable to control my curiosity any longer, I walked up to one of them and asked them the reason for their strange behaviour.
"Oh this one..." he began and then started laughing again, loudly. A few people saw him laughing and joined in. For another two minutes, my ears were exposed to laughter which was indeed at a very high decibel. With great difficulty, they stopped and the man to whom my question was directed, turned to me and said,
" That was a laughter therapy session"
Laughter therapy? I was astonished. Of course I had heard of such sessions which were conducted in some places to rejuvenate the mind and soul but was definitely confused at the reply I was given. This park never had any head or a leader to come and give them the instructions as to do what and when. Then who was the initiator of this great step?
"Oh we started this ourselves" they replied. "In today's world, when people are going through never ending problems and worries, there has to be something which can relieve the common man from his tensions. So we have just gotten together and started this little venture of ours. Laughter therapy. "
"Yes" a woman piped in," We meet every day in the mornings and evenings for about an hour and try to think of the silliest of jokes or small incidents which have occurred in our lives. They might not be very humorous or funny but we make it a point to take every little thing casually and laugh it off"
" And it is not just us" another woman put in," but even the younger generation has come forward to join us in our new activity. Our little group which started at five now has over thirty members which in itself is a great achievement. People today have realised the importance of laughter and its benefits and are willing to try it just to de-stress from their daily hectic routine"
" We have made grave mistakes in our younger days" said a man, " worrying over trivial issues that now seem insignificant. At one point of time they were gigantic ,terrifying issues but now as we grow older we realise that all that we faced then just had to happen. They just had to occur to make us realise our true potential and worth. That unstable relationship, cranky boss at the workplace, huge debts and conflicts between relatives and friends came to teach us how to manage things in an effective way. But we failed to realise it then due to which we now face even bigger and scarier health issues".
I sincerely agreed with everything they said. Humans , if not anything else, had learnt to worry and fuss about the smallest and trivial things in life. Problems are confronted in every home and each person who treads on this earth has difficulties, but learning to solve them in an efficient manner is vital. Worry can cause us the most horrific problems which later would leave us in regret, So why take such a risky step and worry about things which are not very useful or important in our lives? Why worry over the man who cheated us for a few hundred rupees? Why crib and curse at the man who cut past us at the traffic signal on our way to work? Why grudge the shopkeeper who handed us a bagful of rotten vegetables?
Why take things to heart so much and harm ourselves over daily occurrences of life?
As I pondered over everything I just heard and knew, I turned my head to look at a few people who sat on the sidewalk of the park, laughing. I smiled at the happy sight and hoped that it would continue always. As I walked back home in a rejuvenated mind, my eyes caught on another happy sight: a sight which moved me more than anything else. I saw four children playing on the sand happily, rolling and laughing, their bodies covered in sand..
These children too had problems of their own kind, be it school homework or friendship issues. But they never attended any laughter therapy sessions. They were simply joyful and ecstatic throughout. Problems which were powerful confronted them but that never overpowered the determination of the children which was why they enjoyed life to the maximum.
On the one hand towards my left were the members of the laughter therapy class whereas on the other hand, towards my right were the members of life's ecstasy. I so hoped that the former would learn something from the latter.