Between our busy lifestyles and reliance on technology, Melburnians can often find themselves feeling stressed, rundown and disconnected. But for the past two years, residents of the Docklands have been guarding a well-kept secret that may just help to solve this problem: once a month, the Docklands hosts a free therapeutic laughter session that is open to everyone and proves that laughter really is the best medicine.
Laughter Clubs Vic has been operating since 2004 and with over 40 clubs throughout Victoria you could say that by default we're the happiest state in the country. We spoke with the President of Laughter Clubs Vic, Mahes Karrupiah-Quillen, about the benefits of laughter and their regular sessions in Victoria Harbour.
What is the philosophy behind the laughter club?
Laughter Clubs are all about getting people to come in with an open heart and mind to have a good laugh. You might think that you watch funny TV shows or videos on YouTube every day, but with constant repetition and our distracted minds we become de-sensitised to this kind of laughter. When you attend the laughter club it's a form of exercise rather than a mindless giggle.
Why is laughter so good for you?
A good laughter session triggers endorphins (the "feel good" hormones that are released in your brain and nervous system when you exercise or eat chocolate) and can help to reduce stress and anxiety. As a result, laughter can also help you to connect with people and experience more positive emotions, proving to be beneficial to those suffering from depression.
Laughter Clubs also use a form of yogic breathing which helps all the organs in your body to be oxygenated. Generally, 25% of every breath you take goes straight to the brain, but the laughter can help to spread it throughout the body to increase circulation and help you to feel more energised. Think of laughter as an internal massage of the lymphatic system, which will in turn help to strengthen your immune system.
What can you expect from your first time?
First-timers are generally a little bit nervous and are taken aback by how easy it can actually be to make yourself laugh. It's not hard to get into it and with so many people laughing it can feel contagious. The first half hour is all about laughter with the second half being devoted to meditation. You'll leave with a sense of calm and profound happiness, with laughter exercises you can do yourself at home.
Where can you find the Laughter Club at Victoria Harbour?
The Laughter Club meets at 10am on the first Saturday of every month at Buluk Park outside the Library at The Dock. These are free sessions and are open to anyone to attend without prior registration, making laughter accessible to everyone!