Thursday, 27 March 2014

Guest Post from M. How Laughter Yoga Helped During Earthquake In Japan

M., currently in Japan, came across a survivors book last week on the 2010 Great East Japan Earthquake and the resulting tsunami, she told me about one story where a woman had managed to get on to the the roof of a building were she and a group of others had to stay the night waiting to be rescued..... I asked M. to translate it for me so I could share it here.

"A number of us warmed ourselves by yogic breathing and eased our fear by laughter yoga"


From a book called The Gigantic Tunami I witnessed. The book comprises of 75 eyewitness accounts of the tsunami. All of them lived in Miyagi Prefecture. 

This eyewitness is a 54 year old woman called Eiko Saito. At the time of the tsunami, she lived in Natori City,

" The earthquake hit when I was working on the grounds floor of Fuji Bakery Sendai Factory, which was located at the south of Iwanuma City Airport.
I went out to a car park, and saw many people from other buildings nearby gathering. As we heard on radio that the tsunami was coming, we moved up to the first floor of the company.

Later a man came to pick up his family from the company and he shouted that the tsunami was 10 meter high and we were not safe where we were.

We moved to climb up the roof top but I was unable to climb up the spiral ladder because of my bad legs. Someone said to me, 'Hurry up!'.I said, 'I just cant!' Some young men encouraged me to hang in there and pulled me up to the top.

After 15 minutes, I saw the  gray waves like those painted in Ukiyo-e.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa

In a minute, muddy brown water rushed at us. In rain, I saw a pile of cars and lorries, and uprooted pine trees being washed away. I was shivering. The factory was about 15km away from the sea. I couldnt believe that it became part of the sea.

We spent the night in a storage on the first floor of the factory. The employees there brought out cardboard boxes but it was too cold to sleep.
A number of us warmed ourselves by yogic breathing and eased our fear by laughter yoga.

The following afternoon, we all left the factory."

Thank you M. For the translation.

http://youtu.be/8L7nF6hyBPc

 I have to admit I'd kind of dismissed Laughter Yoga  but I can't get the image out of my mind of this frightened group of strangers laughing together amidst the terrors of the tsunami. I'm the least sentimental person I know but I find myself quite choked writing this post....until I watched the video above anyway, are these tears of laughter, sadness a little of both.....

Googling I found more about Eiko Saito here

How Laughter Yoga Helped During Earthquake In Japan

Eiko Saito Japan : Five of us kept Laughing when our building was shaking all night with after shocks during Tsunami which hit Japan this March. I live in the city of Natori, Sendai-prefecture, in northern Japan, which was virtually wiped out by the recent tsunami. Last April 2010, I had become a Laughter Yoga leader together with my husband and we started our own local Laughter Club. Ever since I learned about Laughter Yoga and started practicing it on a regular basis, it has become a great tool to relieve all the stresses of my life.

My life is not so easy just like everybody else's lives. I lost my son last year in September quite suddenly which left me devastated. I also suffer from a chronic leg condition which hampers my mobility. But in spite of this entire crisis, I work as a part timer to support my big family of lots of kids and grand children. What makes me go is Laughter Yoga. It has helped me and my grandchildren to get over the loss of my son and cope with the difficult times.

Even as we were recovering from personal troubles, Japan was hit by a massive earthquake on the fateful day of 11th of March 2011. I was at work in the bread factory, and it was fortunate that our building did not collapse. Already in a state of panic and wondering what to do, we heard that a huge tsunami was headed our way. It was enough to put all of us in a state of extreme fear and alarm. Everyone rushed to the roof top of the building and an hour later, a massive tsunami hit us and virtually wiped out everything - trees, cars, houses and so on. However, our building was still intact and about 346 people survived the onslaught of nature.

It was a terrible night. We could not go home and were constantly battling the aftershocks and rising water levels. The infrastructure had completely broken down and there was no way to find out anything about our family members and friends. All we could do was to wait for rescue and help. As nobody could sleep that night, I decided to start laughing and convince the others to do the same. I explained that it would help them feel better, especially in time of such grave crisis.

Initially diffident and unwilling, some people agreed to laugh. I explained how to do Laughter Yoga and we laughed and talked all night long. Laughter really relieved our feelings, and although many didn't join us, they too felt a little better just by seeing us laugh. The next morning, as the water level went down, I was able to go home and providentially my house escaped the tsunami and my family members were all well.

Soon after the disaster, I visited India to attend Dr.Kataria's teacher training course together with 47 other people from all over Japan. It was a profound experience to see how people most affected by disaster were ready to laugh and start new life. I've also opened a "Laughter Cafe" in my house to help spread the magic of laughter ha ha ha.

..........................................

The 'philosophy, behind Laughter Yoga can be found on the link below, I have to say that I don't think I've ever come across many yoga websites as heavily marketed as this, made me more than a little uncomfortable. I was recently asked to review a book on a Laughter Yoga, when it arrived it turned out to be about Laughter Yoga and Business.... how speedily the cynicism returns.

http://www.laughteryoga.org/english/laughteryoga/details/223


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Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga at home by Anthony Grim Hall is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included. "So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta