Monthly Archives: April 2012

Benefits of playful laughter, “Fake it, till you make it!”

ImageHi,

Yesterday I facilitated a Laughtersession for a group of 25 people from a mental/ healthcare institution. I did this as my alterego, Yamuna. I started the session with explaining how Laughter Yoga started with (Yamuna’s uncle) Dr. Madan Kataria from Mumbai India in 1995. As a physisian he believes in the benefits of laughter for your health (both physiological and psychological), so he decided in 1995 to start a laughterclub with some friends in a park in Mumbai. After a few get togethers, they ran out of jokes, so they didn’t have something to laugh about. Then, they decided they would laugh anyway for no reason at all. And they felt equally good after the session.

What Dr. Madan and his friends discovered was, that by starting to laugh for no reason in a group, soon it turned into real laughter. So the saying goes: FAKE IT, FAKE IT, till you MAKE IT!

Scientific research confirms that the body doesn’t know the difference between real and fake laughter. So when you start to laugh for no reason, your body will send signals to your brain, telling your brain you’re in a good mood, and your brain will tell your system to start producing the hormones endorphine and dopamine (which make you feel good) and reduce your stresshormones cortisol and adrenaline. Also laughter will increase vascular bood flow and oxygenation of the blood, increase memory and learning and improve alertness & creativity.

Now, over 600 laughterclubs are active around the world and they have developed many playful laughterexercises. Many of them can be found on the internet and youtube.

The most fun part of facilitating this group for me was, that I invite people to leave their comfortzone and join me in very playful exercises. The best moment was, when I asked the question of “Who knows a nice way of greeting people?”. One woman spontaneously blurted out “touching noses”, and immediately reacted shy; “oops, did I actually say that?” So we invented a “touching noses” laughter exercise on the spot and the whole group joined in. Watching the people having fun and joining in, making the woman’s ‘blurt’ an important contribution to the group, made me feel totally happy. After Yamuna was gone, Annemarie reflected with the group on their experience. They felt less inhibited, more open, more space, energized, relaxed, closer connected to eachother and tired in a good (after exercise) way.

When I ask myself why this moment gives my the greatest pleasure, it is because it touches my personal mission, which is (for now…it’s an ongoing proces):

To inspire people to leave their comfortzone (where learning & growth takes place) by sharing my experience & knowledge and by creating playful & meaningful learningexperiences.

With playful greetings,

Annemarie Steen (& Yamuna)

PS If you want to laugh with me…send me a┬ámessage and we’ll set up a meeting (on- or offline)

My favorite quotes…

There is not a lot of laughter in medicine, but there is a lot of medicine in laughter (unknown)

 

Storytelling, great tool for selfdiscovery and reinvention

Last week I attented a 5 day online seminar on storytelling (www.reinventionsummit.com), with 4 hours of interviews with expertspeakers a day, and the possibility of online chatting with up to 99 other participants from all around the world. This was my first online seminar and found it to be very interesting. #lovenewtechnology

The biggest insight I got, was that The more personal your story is, the more universal it becomes.

Succesfull speakers, bloggers and online personalities shared their moments of truth. And when they decided to throw down their ‘perfect’ masks and dared to really show their authentic selves, their fears, their pain, their frustration, it was the beginning of their successtory. Apparantly we want to read and hear stories we can relate to on a personal level.

Another thing that I found interesting was, that most people think that they don’t have very dramatic stories to tell. Well, Life is dramatic, so we all have stories! (maybe you’ve become used to the drama in your life so much, that it feels normal to you).

The title of the seminar was Reinvention Summit. So what does storytelling have to do with reinvention? Well, if you review your own life’s experiences for stories, they are all about selfdiscovery and reinventing yourself. Your life’s themes are to be found in your experiences, insights & stories.

Ofcourse reviewing your life for these kind of (sometimes very hard, painful of shameful) experiences, can be challenging and it takes a lot of guts to share them with others. Ofcourse, you don’t have to. But I believe it’s worth the effort of exploring them and telling them (or writing them down) at least to yourself.

So what’s your story?

With enthusiasm,

Annemarie Steen

My favorite quotes

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven. -John Milton

Leaving your comfortzone gets you energized.

ImageLast week it was April’s foolsday. A good friend of mine decided after 20 years of being a housepainter, to start a career as an artist. Next week he wants to open his atelier/galerie (at his house in the city center of Eindhoven). To attract attention to this opening, he came up with an April’s foolsjoke. He asked four of his female friends to sit behind the windows as prostitutes, with red lights on, so it looked a lot like Amsterdam. Ofcourse his friends felt a little strange about it, but also saw a good joke in this, so they agreed. And they did attract a lot of attention from passing cars, bycicles and pedestrians.

After 1 hour the police came to stop the whole thing, and they couln’t appreciate the joke. The next day there was an article about it in the local newspaper, so mission accomplished for my friend.

Why do I want to share this story with you?

Well, for starters it shows that a creative idea can get you free publicity.

But, for me the thing that got me writing about this, was the energy of the girls after their experience.

I didn’t see the girls sit behind the window (unfortunately I was too late), but I met them later in a bar. The energy of the four women was very high and they were almost radiating. The reason for this was that they did something that was outside of their comfortzone, a little scary, but they did it anyway. Stretching their comfortzone apparantly generated lots of energy.

I see this same thing happening with people in trainingsituations. The one’s who dare themselves to leave their save comfortzone…”I’m afraid, but I’m gonna do it anyway”…learn the most and get really energized from the experience.

Wish you many out of your comfortzone experiences!!

And please share them as a comment on this post. What was your OUT OF MY COMFORTZONE moment? Did you feel energized?

With enthusiasm,

Annemarie Steen

Here is the article from the dutch newspaper: Vervelend staartje dreigt voor 1-aprilgrap – Eindhoven Stad – Regio – ED