F. Step Four: Integrate

The focus of your class is now moving from external to internal.

  • Arrangement: The optimal setup is an inward-facing circle if the space permits. No one should be seated outside the circle. If some individuals are seated on chairs while others are on the floor, ask the individuals on the floor to make room for the chairs to join them in the center.
  • Sitting Techniques: This is a matter of personal choice. Two positions are suitable for this exercise: sitting (on a chair or the floor) and/or lying on your back with bent knees (if possible) on the floor. Do what you are comfortable with and prefer. Some people alternate between the two positions, sitting for a few minutes and then lying on the floor for the rest of the designated time. If it is not possible for anyone to sit or lie on the floor, arrange all chairs close together in a cluster formation to enhance the experience and make the laughter more contagious.

There are four activities in step 4. Let’s take a closer at how they work.

1. Sit down + 20 seconds of silent introspection

This is intended to be a smooth transition from an external to an internal focus. The invitation is to simply be aware of how one feels.

2.The Laughter Meditation

“Laughter Meditation” refers to a segment of uninhibited laughter with a singular focus on the act of laughing, hence the term “meditation.” It is not necessary to use this term if you do not prefer it. (E.g., you could call it “laughing on a chair”, or “the seated laughter segment.”) For participants, it is simply another exercise with a unique approach, so it is crucial for them to understand its mechanics.

It is a delightful component of a comprehensive laughter session, where individuals may or may not experience genuine, spontaneous laughter. It does not matter either way, as participants typically enjoy and benefit greatly from this experience. There is no interference from the instructor and the emphasis is solely on laughter, allowing individuals to laugh however they choose, with eyes open or closed, uninterrupted.

So far you have practiced two techniques:

Happy memory chuckle: Travel back in time to recall a joyful memory, when you felt safe, surrounded by loved ones, and when you all laughed. Take time to relive this memory, and then laugh now as if you were back then. (It typically takes 90-120 seconds to feel the emotions again.)

The laughing cells: Focus your attention on the center of your chest. Imagine that your heart is sending happy and smiling cells throughout your body, and laugh as you do so.

Teaching tips for the laughter meditation:

  • Focus on you. As a laughter facilitator, you should create an environment that invites people to laugh to their heart’s content, but it’s not your job to make everyone laugh. Encourage everyone, including yourself, to close their eyes and only do what feels comfortable for them. This removes the visual pressure of feeling like one “has to” laugh and creates a more relaxed atmosphere for all.
  • No talking! Remind everyone to avoid trying to be funny through gestures, faces, or sounds. This type of humor can put people in a judging mode and detract from the intended experience. It’s best to avoid it during a laughter session.
  • How long should it last? Let it last as long as the majority of your participants keep laughing and time allows.
  • What if it doesn’t work? The backup plan is to alternate periods of silence with invitations to just laugh. There is no set shape to what success must look like. When you’ve had enough move on to the next component of the class.
  • What if someone cries? Intense cathartic moments can occur during the laughter meditation, although it is not a common occurrence. Allow the process to happen without interference as it helps to release trapped emotions and emotional problems. The experience will pass shortly.

3. Grounding Activity

When we laugh, our bodies increase production of chemicals and proteins. After laughing, our bodies need to readjust back to the normal rate, which can cause some people to feel anxious, unhappy, or agitated. To prevent this, it’s recommended to take a few minutes at the end of a laughing session to relax and ground yourself. This relaxation period is just as important as the laughter itself.

So far you have practiced two techniques:

Gentle general body awareness: Invite everyone to observe their breathing for a few minutes, focusing on how their body feels.

Grow roots: Breathe in and out slowly while visualizing roots growing from your feet, down into the floor, the earth, and soil. These roots create a strong connection between you and the earth. Next, imagine a strong flow of energy from the earth moving into your roots and into your body, starting from your feet and moving upward. This energy fills you with a powerful and uplifting force.

4. Transition to step five

This is really simply a reminder to gently bring your participants back to an awake-and-ready state, e.g., “Gently wiggle your fingers and toes. Being mindful of those around you, gently stretch. And when you are ready, please open your eyes.