Lockdown, exit restrictions, compulsory face masks – the coronavirus has turned our lives upside down in recent months.The following report was written before this very unusual time. A snapshot from times before Corona.
When Feriha laughs, it’s loud and heartly. Many people have told her that, on the street or on the bus. “You laugh so beautifully!”, they then address Feriha. And Feriha replies: “You can do that too!” For seven years she has been attending the “Lachtreff”, a laughter meeting in Munich’s Westpark every Sunday. Here, strangers meet for an hour to laugh under guidance. This is called laughter yoga or laughter wellness.
The weather means well today with the Lachtreff. On this mild day in February, almost forty people have come to the Westpark to laugh. Most of them are older, estimated at over sixty, but there are also a few younger faces. “We do this here because laughing is healthy and because we don’t laugh enough,” laughter trainer Cornelia Leisch explains to the newcomers at the beginning.
“I must confess, I couldn’t have imagined it at all. When we meet for real, we get very close, physically and emotionally. We look each other straight in the eyes, we touch each other briefly again and again. We establish a direct connection. How is that supposed to work on the screen?
To my great surprise I could see that it works after all. Somewhat different, but still you feel connected, not alone, but in community. You have 25 people in your living room or office smiling at you. When can you experience something like that in real life?
At the beginning of the corona restrictions we did daily laugh groups. We had to get to know the technique better, try out which exercises were more suitable for the screen and which less, and make lots of mistakes. Now I can say that it is going so well that I will certainly continue the online training in part, even if we may meet again in the park sometime.
Because it also has advantages. You don’t have to travel to the session. Some people simply take a break from work in their home office to be part of a laughing session. People who are not from Munich can participate.
I have now even started an international laughter and conversation circle with my teacher Sebastien Gendry, who is based in California. First laughing together and then in small groups to discuss certain questions, and just listen. It seems that this is exactly what many people need right now.”