It is incredible how you can have a laughter session with strangers, and by the end of the session, you leave feeling like old friends who have known each other for ages and are ready to support one another. That’s how powerful laughter is.
In this episode, I have the honour of hosting Robin Graham on the show. He is the Laughter Ambassador for Laughter Yoga International, laughter yoga leader trainer, laughter ambassador for laughter for all Ethiopia, laughter Consultant, Director, and co-founder of Laughter Network. He set up the UK Laughter Festival – UK National Laughter Week, and Laughter Yoga School Manchester and Central UK to offer various laughter and community development training. Also, he is such a playful human being.
In this episode, we’ll learn how Robin started his laughter journey, built several laughter networks, and how laughter has networked Robin’s life, among other things. Listen in and learn.
Key Talking Points of the Episode:
[02:37] Where Robin’s shirt came from
[04:09] Robin’s love for Africa
[10:37] How laughter came onto Robin’s radar
[14:27] Robin’s laughter yoga journey
[16:21] Robin’s playfulness
[25:40] How Robin Graham mastered the confidence of being in front of a crowd
[31:27] The laughter network and how we can support one another
[38:32] How laughter has enhanced Robin’s life
[40:31] Robin’s standout moment with laughter
[43:46] Robin’s favourite laughing exercises
[48:18] Three things that bring Robin joy
Standout Quotes from the Episode:
“When we laugh, we open up these amazing things in our brain that actually we can take on more knowledge.”
“It is strange what we’re doing. We’re laughing for no reason, but we’re laughing for no reason because we understand the benefits.”
Connect with Robert Graham
What did you learn from this episode?
Please leave us a review on iTunes. It will make it easy for more people to find this podcast.
If you enjoyed this episode, you should 100% listen to the founder of laughter yoga Madan Kataria talking to the laughter man.
If you would like to be a guest on the podcast, please contact Pete here.
Follow Pete at:
Pete Cann [00:04]
Hello, I’m Pete Cann laughter leader, positive thinker and entrepreneur, and you’re listening to laughter and positivity with Pete, where each week I’ll bring you tips and tricks to lead a happier, more positive life. Ready? Let’s go. Hey guys, it’s laughter and positivity with Pete. And this week I am joined by Chief Tobe Ying’o the
2nd of Fife state. Is that correct? Robin
Robin Graham [00:38]
Pete Cann [00:47]
The chat for me mate so…
Robin Graham [00:49]
Yeah, I know we had a project to provide clean drinking water to a community in Ghana. And in order to encourage people to continue their supportive work, what sometimes people are made, like an honorary chief or a pathfinder chief. So, my title is Chief Togbi Yingo the 2nd.
Pete Cann [01:13]
Perfect and then of Fivey estate, but also you’re the first international ambassador for laughter for all in Ethiopia as well.
Robin Graham 01:25
The world laughter Master is based in Ethiopia. And from 2008 in till about 2016, I traveled each year to Ethiopia for Ethiopian national laugh today. Ethiopia is the only country that has a national laughter day. I attempted with some colleagues to set up a national laughter day in Wales, you may want to know why Wales. You know laughter releases endorphins Yes? So to yet in endorphins have a dual porpoise? Yeah, painkillers and they make us happy. And once you’ve dealt with the within endorphins, and you have dealt with the purposes, that leads you on to Wales.
Pete Cann 02:13
Right, what’s going to be one of them, I can feel it already, which is going to be fantastic Robin, I’m well up for this conversation and see where we go with it. You know, off air before we even started yet, you know, people aren’t going to be able to see this. This is all on audio. But you’ve got the best shirt that I’ve interviewed. And you had a little story as well to it. So, if you want to just let the listeners know where your shirt came from.
Robin Graham [02:37]
I went on a blind date to Ghana back in 2001. And it didn’t work out but I met some really interesting people, including sister Sheila. Sister Sheila sows my shirts ever since the year 2001 she’s been making shirts for me, and it’s just amazing. So, these have become the laughter uniform. When I do a laughter session, I wear bright socks and one of the sisters shields shirts that she has sewn for me. She is a lovely lady. A very good lady she takes in, or she has taken in some orphan children and brought them up. A couple of them I’ve been supporting over the years. She lives near a school for street children, and I learned quite a bit from the street children. And in fact, we made a film for the school where in turn each of the children in the street children’s school, came out of the door, walked along the pathway, and smiled or laughed for camera.
Pete Cann [03:45]
Fantastic. Fantastic. So, Robin, I can already you know, from just from this initial start of the conversation Africa seems very dear to your heart. Yes. It’s so I mean, how many [….] because of the continent if you visited many of the countries over there? Okay, perfect. Next question.
Robin Graham [04:09]
I’ve been to Ghana. I started going to Ghana in 2001. And I spent best part of a year of my life there over a period of 20 years. Ethiopia I’ve been to. It’s amazing to be with world laughter master, to see his work, he is not a laughter yoga man. He created his ideas. He’s got a really interesting backstory as well. He basically he was in the army, no the Air Force. He was in the Air Force. He didn’t want to kill people. He became it I recall that he became a conscientious objector. He therefore had to sort of hide himself but being quite an extrovert. Although he hid himself as a primary school teacher, he also became a singer. He set up a hotel. Amazing. Then the hotel burned down, and the neighbors helped him rebuild. And then where he was living in the African Rift Valley, it flooded, and everyone lost everything. So no one was able to help him rebuild. And then his wife died from HIV. He lost his home, he lost pretty much everything, but he had a couple of books. One book was the Bible and one book was a guide to dealing with stress. And he saw that laughter is a way of dealing with stress, laughter isn’t released. And in the Bible, he saw a line that said laugh with famine and disaster. So he started laughing, and he developed his laughter as a way of healing himself. His own HIV levels went down to undetectable long before drugs medication came along. And he became a celebrity in Ethiopia, running a national laughter day. Now back in 2004, myself with Judy Whitehead, and a couple of other people set up the UK laughter network. We were approached by a filmmaker in 2008, who said, what ideas do we have that he might make a film about? And he said that his idea that he wanted to do was bring across world laughter master Belachew Girma, from Ethiopia to what was then set to be the most miserable place in Britain. Warsaw pretty sure it was Warsaw in the Midlands. And they wanted some people, some laughing people to go along so that the filming could be done with laughter people around. I couldn’t make it, unfortunately, but several laughter network members could. And then world laughter master couldn’t get a visa. So it was all postponed by a week and I was the only person who could go along and we really hit it off. So I then started going to his Ethiopian national laughter day in various places around Ethiopia, and making contact and laughing with people, we laugh with 6000 people in one university, he will get the local community leaders along. And he would laugh one on one with them. It will be very difficult for me to right now demonstrate how he gets people laughing. But what he does basically is he goes almost nose touching nose, and he tunes into his inner Yes, sort of ahahaaa. And it’s very difficult to not enjoy them when someone does that. But that might have been a bit loud for your for your podcast. So so so you get the energy, the infectious energy of that burst of laughter. So he will get people who were community leaders, religious leaders in a town laughing and when they laugh, it almost gives permission to everybody else in in the hall to laugh. So in northern Ethiopia, we had 6000 people at a university in one room laughing and other places that I mean, I think occasionally there’ll be a few 100 Or a few 1000. But I like for me was when we went to the Ethiopia FA Cup Final, 30,000 people in the stadium 20 minutes before kickoff. He and I had five minutes. Wow. We did basically he introduced it and then we did three laughter yoga exercises. And it was quite unique.
Pete Cann [08:41]
Yeah, that the hairs on your neck are just tingling now just thinking about it.
Robin Graham [08:47]
And that’s probably why the rest of my head disappeared.
Pete Cann [08:51]
I’ve got to worry about it. It’s going slowly so Robin that lights up. First thing before I forget, I would love an introduction to this gentleman because it’d be fantastic to get his story on the podcast if that’s something that you could do possibly in the in the in the future.
Robin Graham [09:11]
He had a brain tumor a couple of years ago and he’s recovering from that. Yes, he is quite a remarkable man. And some of his phrases that he uses when he speaks are beautiful. And he’s done a TED talk. So you’ll find him on YouTube as well.
Pete Cann [09:29]
Fantastic. What was his name?
Robin Graham [09:31]
His name is Belachew Girma
Pete Cann [09:35]
Fantastic. See that? The reason I asked him about the Africa side of things because my sister-in-law lives in Kenya. So, she’s based in Nairobi, but we’ve only been a couple of times over there but every time we go out both times we’ve been it’s just like the the warmth of the Kenyans you can just feel it in their in their, their air or I suppose that when when we were there and you know. What was quite interesting is when I don’t know if you know about the giggle phone that I did, I passed the giggle phone for World laughter day. And I didn’t actually manage to get anyone from Ethiopia on that, that chain so that was like, Yeah, that’s a fun that. Yeah, but interesting that I didn’t know about this guy actually. So yeah, very, very keen to meet him or to talk to him. Definitely. So um, so my first question then Robin, like, proper question about laughter, because this is laughter and positivity. How did laughter come onto your radar?
Robin Graham [10:37]
I started to learn some yoga breathing techniques with an organization called The Art of Living Foundation. After about a year of this, the heavy the organization, the guru, who would send out a weekly knowledge sheet, sent around a knowledge sheet saying, let’s stand on street corners. All you have to do is go ha ha ha ha ha he swing your arms, simple instructions. It was read to us. And it resonated. Four us from the group we met, it took turns meeting in different homes. And we tried it and we found that on one occasion, just lying on the floor, pretending to laugh would lead to real laughter. And it went on for best part of an hour. And it was just quite a powerful, very powerful, liberating thing that I then thought, well, maybe I could add this to what I was doing, which was Japanese massage. If I say shiatsu, you say Bless you,
Pete Cann [11:37]
Bless you. Bless you.
Robin Graham [11:41]
So, we did the practice between the four of us. And then I was at a Healthy Living Center in Salford where I live and started doing some taster sessions of the last year, tried to come up with some ideas looked on the internet. We’re talking 1998-1999, so a millennium ago, a long time ago. So, I mean, Dr. Kataria had just started, but I didn’t know anything about laughter yoga. And I came up with one idea, which had been the starting point for pretty much every laughter session for the past 20 years.
Pete Cann [12:20]
And that was this idea of?
Robin Graham [12:21]
passing the laughter sounds round. So, get people in a in a circle and just say, Okay, let’s, let’s practice a sound haul, which comes from the heart. It’s all holf our heart area. And I will then say to you the sound haul a few times, and then you copy it to the next person. And it’s playful and silly. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. Now you copy that to the next person
Robin Graham [12:58]
Perfect, and it develops into a source of real laughter around the room. And then we can maybe reflect on that or do another laughter sound. So, I started that I had a group of typically 10 older women waiting for their taster session on massage, reflexology, or whatever it was. And so 10 will be waiting for this massages, 10 will be with me, because they had to wait an hour before it was their turn to wait for massages. So, I had to go and develop some laughter ideas and then in 2003 went to London where I met Julie Whitehead, who had been doing laughter yoga. 2004 We started last network which ran for 10 years as the professional organization for laughers.
Pete Cann [14:00]
Fantastic, fantastic so so you’ve been doing it a long time then.
Robin Graham [14:06]
I probably started laughing when I was five weeks old. Yeah, haha yes. So yeah, I’ve been doing for 20 plus years.
Pete Cann [14:18]
Fantastic. So are you actually have you like qualified as a laughter yogi or have you gone the other sort of a different journey?
Robin Graham [14:27]
Okay, so back in 2006 I did my laughter yoga leader training with Julie. And that was someone else on that course who I remember her name’s Lottie. So we did our laughter yoga session, laughter yoga training at the same time. In 2008, Julie, who was already a teacher, and myself and Kathy Collymore went to Costa to interlock in Switzerland where we became Julie was already a teacher but we became laughter yoga teachers with Dr. Kataria as our teacher and Geoffrey Breyer was there. He is the one of the gibberish people. At some stage possibly through Ethiopia, I met Alex Sternick, who’s the other, or the top gibberish professor. And I’m asserted to divide debrief professor as well. I did a master’s degree at Chester University; it was part time as a mature student. That’s a bit of a misnomer because I’m not mature and never have been and probably never will. And I was allowed to give the master’s my own title because it was based on reflective learning and research. So, I have a Master of Arts in Health and happiness awareness. That title, it’s quite a long title. So I shortened it. I take the first letter of masters first letter of arts, first letter of health, first letter, and first letter of health, and happiness and first letter of awareness. And I essentially have an evil laugh after my name Ma. From Chester University.
Pete Cann [16:06]
So okay Robin you know, I’ll just go off topic, not off topic at all. Like you’re playful. I can see this and I’m loving it. I’m loving this energy that you you’re throwing across to me. Have you always been this playful?
Robin Graham [16:21]
I’ve always been very serious and introverted. When I was at school, and while I was growing, I was the peacemaker. I would get people who are having some sort of conflict, to maybe take a step back. And I did that mostly through dry humor. So it was always a dry humor and playing with words. Puns, I love puns. Someone who I quite admire said I do daddy jokes and that was so painful. That was so hurtful because I was doing these when I was seven. So maybe the reflection of not being so playful in a way. So, a friend of mine, Mike, who I met, a school friend, I met having not seen him for about 30 years. He surprised me when he said he recalled that at school, I was the one that made people laugh. It wasn’t raucous laugh, it wasn’t clowning about. It was just gentle humor. And so when I started about 20, something years ago, it was giving myself permission to be playful again, but I had been playful in the intervening years. I worked for computer company, we were doing, consultancy, and the client, I would wear a pullover to look like the client and the onsite manager made a complaint that went all the way to the top of the very large organization and came back down to my manager telling me off, but when the client came to pay for the work that we’ve done, they would only pay for what I’d done, because everyone else’s stuff was whatever. But the head of the consulting, his name was Clive, so with my chums from the customer, we turn the letters around, it was no longer client, it was live backwards, which is evil see? Yeah, so there were hidden, some playful, it’s all at all. Yeah,
Pete Cann [18:33]
interesting. Is it because, you know, I, I used to work for a company and I remember the lady, the manager, her name was Penny, and I came in after a weekend, or even you know, like a Wednesday, it was like a recruitment company I worked for and I had like a bit of a shadow, bid shadow wasn’t a bid, but just like, but I was thinking of growing a beard and that and obviously, Robin, you’ve got a beard, I’ve got a beard. And she said to me, bids are for weekends. I was just like, what? And that was sort of the environment that I was working in at that time was that it was all very like, you know, do you get to wear a tie, you had to just like this wasn’t my It wasn’t me. And I think that’s where you know, I know actually I’m unemployable because of lots of different reasons and a lot of the time I suppose if I see something that can be fixed or I think could be done better, I don’t hold my tongue I just go have you thought about doing it? I’d a helpful way but that used to get people a little bit riled up by senior as it were. So I suppose with the laughter for me and I’d go back to the school stuff as well you know, I was this person the Joker you know, I was the person that again was was just trying to have a bit of fun. But learning because a funny enough when we laugh, we open up these amazing things in our brain that actually we can take on more knowledge and, you know, and I think the same thing has happened to me. I’ve, I’ve I’ve spoken to a school friend not so long ago. And it’s just like, because he obviously has seen me turn it turn into the Laughter Man, I suppose. And he’s like, you always were the laugh. Pete, you always used to get everyone laughing used to mess around or play and, and I’m just like, wow, when you find your skin that you should be in. It’s just a wonderful place to be, isn’t it? So yeah, I went on a tangent there, Robin. Sorry.
Robin Graham [20:27]
Good tangent. That’s why I didn’t say anything at the end. I said a couple of times. Yeah, yes. Yes. But I am on the Myers Briggs scale. I’m an I,F,J which is an introvert. Whatever, probably thinker. So I am an introvert. When I was at school, I did a public speaking competition, I gave a vote to thanks. And that was fine. I could learn it word for word. But when I was in another competition, where I couldn’t learn it word for word, and I had to listen to someone else speak and give a vote of thanks, I was useless. Because I couldn’t think on my feet. I’m just quite introverted, make these little jokes. Things have changed. I became president of the Rotary Club up here. And that helped me to give talks and to be more on my feet, I found also with the laughter work. If I know what I’m doing, that’s great. But I don’t want to have a plan. That’s it. I’m going to do the following things in this order. I like it to be spontaneous. Over the pandemic, I forgot some of what I’ve been doing. Because if some of it would just be spontaneous, it would just be whatever comes up in the room.
Pete Cann [21:50]
And we’re talking about laughter running a laughter session that somebody comes up in that. Yeah, I think it’s, I mean, yeah, that’s something that I’m learning if I’m honest, is because actually, if you get a little little something, someone does something and you just grab it and just put some your little twist, then actually, you get that humor in there as well. Like, it’s yeah, I found I find it quite interesting to do that.
Robin Graham [22:16]
Yeah, the key is playfulness. So when we did the online laughter championships, I think it was last year, someone turned up wearing a funny hat. So we suggested that everyone goes off and gets a funny hat. And people came, but one guy came back with a lampshade. So. And he remembers that session because it was so much fun. But it wasn’t planned. And it’s probably not repeatable. And I couldn’t make it happen again because it just was spontaneous. So that’s what I like. It’s the playfulness. You know, there was a guy in Switzerland who did some research that looking at laughter, and he would plunge someone’s hand in iced water and see how long it could stay in before they watch the funny film and after they watch the funny film. Yeah, and I just intrigued by the fact that someone would plunge someone else’s hand in ice water. But some research is really good. You know, there, there is research been going on for some years. It started about 20 years ago. Tickling rats. Did you know that? No. If you look it up on Google, you will find that scientists have been tickling rats. And then there’s this question of what laughs? a rat or a mouse? Which one would you think laugs?
Pete Cann [23:38]
Like Yeah, completely, completely. I have heard rats, one of the only animals that laugh is there’s a couple on there that laugh I think array of times laugh as well. Yeah.
Robin Graham [23:50]
That’s laugh rather than mice because they’re social creatures and laughter. It’s a social interaction. But just as an yeah, I’ve got to do an aside, but you can’t repeat it because it’s my it’s my little secret. So, if I can’t say that.
Pete Cann [24:06]
That’s fine. You keep on your Yeah, you haven’t got a hat. So
Robin Graham [24:10]
okay. I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you there. All right, you’ve convinced me. So magicians also do they prefer rats or mice?
Pete Cann [24:21]
They prefer? I don’t know Robin. What?
Robin Graham [24:25]
They don’t like mice, because you can’t take a rabbit out of your mouse but you can take a rabbit out of your rat.
Pete Cann [24:39]
Boom, boom. Whoa. Hi, it’s Pete here and I hope you’re enjoying the show. I have a little favor to ask if you are enjoying this episode, then why not press that share button and help spread the power of laughter with your network. Anyway, on with the episode Okay, so I’m gonna quickly dive back into the introvertness of you because like you like, you’re to me, You’re not an introvert Robin. So how did you go about? How can you remember the first time you stood in front of a big audience of people, as a laughter professional? And how that made you feel? Because there’s a lot of laughter pit professionals that listen to this, this audio and you know, that they, you know, they’re gonna, at some point stand in front of 100 people, 200 people, 300 people? I mean, how did you overcome sort of like your nerves when you did that?
Robin Graham [25:40]
I think that every time I do a laughter session, there’s nerves. And there’s the uncertainty and sometimes thinking, how will this go with some smaller groups, I went into a men’s group, and the guys were sitting on chairs in a circle, they were probably late middle age, and I walked in the room, and I thought, How am I gonna make them laugh? I can’t just look at them. Just, they’re not, they’re not even gonna smile. And then I clicked in my mind, and I say, of course they will. And I start, and then it works. So, until you first stop, sometimes I turn up really tired. And I find that my mouth starts opening words come out. And after a little while, I’m in my flow, because I know that I know how I open the session. It’s pretty much the same words every time. Once I have a set of several, and after I start laughing, then the laughter will energize me and relax me. And then I’m, I’m fine. I’m alert again. The first time I don’t know actually because we’re going back quite a long time. But I probably talked at some conferences. And to begin with, to begin with, Iremember the first significant one, and it was to a bank group of bankers. And they may be technical people in the bank. And the senior manager had invited me because he’d heard of laughter yoga and he loved the session. But a whole load of other members of the audience said, Well, after we done the first laughter exercise, so what I thought it’s all much the same. So when you do a laughter yoga session, it’s a lot. It can be a lot of so what? Okay, well, we’ve done one laughter game I’ve, I’ve been silly for you once, why should I do that again? So then I had to completely rethink. What do I include that makes it interesting and relevant to people that so that’s when things change? Why do we laugh? What does it mean? And how can we use it in our lives. So creating that session, that session that appeals to those who want to be playful, and those who want to learn, that was my turning point, because now I can, I can stand up in front of a group and I’m pretty confident because I know my material. And when I’m invited to a group that a different sort of group, so there was a pyramid selling organization that invited me over to Bulgaria to do a presentation at their annual get together off the pyramid sellers. It’s funny, they all have pointy heads.
Pete Cann [28:34]
So I get to the point get.
Robin Graham [28:39]
So I got the brief and I knew what they wanted me to cover, I knew how I was meant to interact with a group. So I wrote a new script, which I pretty much followed. And I spent a lot of time thinking, well, what might work as a first opening for this group of people. And it, it worked really well, but it took a lot of thought and preparation. I also had in…
Pete Cann [29:13]
Sorry, Robert, I’m just gonna ask you one very quick question. Did you did you get one person at the top of the pyramid? Get them to share a laugh with two and then they shared with you and then before you knew it, you had the old Audience laughing?
Robin Graham [29:23]
That would have been very clever. But no, the ceiling was too low. But I did do a breathing exercise with them called bellows breath or bass rica, where you throw your arms in the air and pull them down. And the seating they were arranged across ways rather than deep way. So there might have been 10 rows of eight rows of 100 people across and they’re all doing this and it was great. And that was a fun thing. I’ve got all these people doing. So, through 2008 onwards, I was doing big sessions. So the football with 30,000 people was in 2008, long time ago. So there must have been sessions before that, that I had conferences or other groups of people, but I would write my script, I would know what I wanted to do. It would make sense to me. So I wasn’t just speaking following instructions. I knew what I wanted to say, because I’ve constructed the presentation. So it must have been, I would think it must have been in the first few years, trying to think whether, before I set up laughter network. I was in Manchester; the other people were in London. And it just seems so ridiculous that I would have to do everything myself. And, wherever everyone is, they have to do everything themselves. So what if we came together? We shared knowledge, shared experience and expertise. So I’m really wanted that setup. So I’m just wondering, because I must have been quite well established by 2003 to be able to do that. Yeah. So yes. Okay. Next question. Perfect.
Pete Cann [31:23]
So I’m going to quickly dive into the laughter network. Is that still going?
Robin Graham [31:27]
After network last year for 10 years? We had a membership of between 30 and 50 at a time when generally people didn’t know about laughter yoga, didn’t know what it was, and the people who had discovered it and wanted to do it needed some sort of support. 2014 We had a conference up in Manchester Dr. Kataria was there and it it was a brilliant conference. We had a dinner and playful evening. And then we had the conference and then Lottie ran session for laughter yoga people. But my conference was for general public, so all sorts. And it marked the 10th anniversary but laughter network came to an end, partly because the members weren’t prepared to do anything. There were three or four of us who ran it. But we were saying we need help. So people weren’t forthcoming and the other people running it said, No, we don’t want to do this anymore. There was a gap, a little gap of a couple of years and laughter Association set up. I started running in 2012 what I call the alarm fix. It wasn’t the Olympics, it was the alarm fix. So it was national laughter week, and championships national, UK laughter championships started in 2012. So the 2014 Laughter Network Conference was part of laughter week, and the laughter championships was held there. My laughter championships is based on laughing together laughing joyfully and seeing who can laugh and be chosen by the audience as the most joyful laughter present. And then it developed into okay, it’s the most joyful pair because he got people laughing in twos. So it’s not a serious competition.
Robin Graham [33:19]
And that continued until, I mean, leave it last year, I was doing it online. So it’s still going on. Laughter network ,as I said, came to an end after 10 years. But it served its purpose by that time there were lots of people who were laughter yoga people, but those new people coming on don’t know the history, they’ll know that it wasn’t laughter network don’t know that some of us came together in 2003 and then the following year, set up an organization to help this grow in the country.
Pete Cann [33:47]
Fantastic if needed, Robin is needed in the in the from what I can see it’s it’s in the UK, I mean, I’ve got a Facebook group that I set up which is called laughter support group and there’s Yeah, it’s not loads of activity, but there is activity and we’re starting to do a monthly Zoom meeting or we’re probably going to go three weekly where people just come along and just share what’s working for them to get business really if I’m honest is one of the things is like how you know how are you getting business and how you know what’s working for you and you know, sharing exercises sharing challenges and helping each other because I think it’s really important for us because you know, some people are doing better than others some people were struggling with certain things but actually someone else’s like your good self Robin, you know, you’ve got years of experience where actually someone could come to the table and say, Do you know what I’m really struggling with? I don’t know jokes around pyramid selling and you could just be like get to the point Pete, I don’t know why. or similar to.
Robin Graham [34:50]
Yes. So yes, support groups are good, and it may be there are so many people had so many different teachers that we ended We’d lots of support groups around. But wouldn’t it be lovely if a couple of times a year, there was some event that people could come to? So, in Bristol, Joe is likely to be running the conference again. Yeah, I’m likely to be running our laughter championships you can like two championships each year for next few years in Manchester or online. Lottery runs in London. She’s got her play conference next year. We need something in Scotland and maybe something in, I was gonna say somewhere in Wales. Manchester’s on the border. I mean, I can drive to Wales. Because of sensible, useful purpose to spread in Delphi, I can get there in no time, in 40 minutes. I’m in north Wales, I love north Wales. So to have these things where we can come together, and then it’s, again, the potential to be a bit like a family, if we come together more than just once every few years, we get to know people. And the laughter network was a group of friends. And we’re having a get together in a couple of weeks time; at reunion in someone’s house, and there’ll be maybe eight or nine of us. We had some weekends in Glastonbury, we had two or three weekends where the whole group of people came down. And we stayed overnight in Glastonbury. We just brought arcade games and playfulness together for that time. So it would be really nice because yes, that’d be really nice to be friends. Also, um, when I was when I think back in France, there were like, warring factions of laughter leaders. Now we’re meant to be bringing happiness to our own lives and to each other’s lives. So why, what? Why let the disagreements developed so much that we can’t talk to each other. And then also, the final thing about what you said is, I don’t know how many people actually make a proper living out of laughter. I told the dean of a major Cathedral in the UK, when asked how I make my money. I didn’t think he was really listening to me. I said I robbed banks and sell my body. I don’t, but and he didn’t listen, I’m sure he didn’t hear because he no, no. The thing is, but how many people actually make enough money out of laughter. So, if you are a master trainer, if you are a laughter teacher, if you organize yourself well you may be able to do that. And sometimes there are companies who will pay a lot of money for a laughter session, but very often I work with community groups, Women’s Institute, I think it’s 40 pounds, right? The local community theater group is 75 pounds. And a lot of what I do is for nothing, and I do online sessions for a yoga organization. I don’t get anything for but I sometimes I still feel stretched, hence the yoga.
Pete Cann [38:19]
Yes. Yes. So Robin, how has laughter improved your life? Or enhanced your life, shall I say?
Robin Graham [38:32]
Okay, so there are several areas in which it’s made a difference. The first is I have friends through my laughter. And if I go into a laughter session, the chances are people who are strangers start feel like friends at the end. And when I say goodbye, and I don’t see them again, it doesn’t matter. Because there’s that sense of, we’ve made a real connection and that is so heartwarming. In terms of, okay, I told you that I started doing this after the guru sent round a note saying stand on street corners and love. The breathing techniques and the laughter together, probably keep me alive because having diabetes and goodness knows whatever else is wrong with me. It’s good for my health. So, it’s good for my mental well-being as well. So it’s had a major impact in terms of connection with people and my own well-being.
Pete Cann [39:36]
Amazing amazing, and it’s just it’s true. It’s sort of, again, from people that look in from the outside. It is strange what we’re doing. We’re laughing for no reason, but we’re laughing for no reason because we understand the benefits. And I think the more it gets out into the open and more people see it ,then, you know, again, you either attract or detract I get that but it, it seems to be more people coming aware of laughter and now the benefits can help each other. So, it’s, yeah, that’s really interesting. So, you’ve obviously ran many a session over the years over the over the couple of decades that you’ve been doing this, where there must be like one or two standout memories where someone has come up to you and said, something that’s made you go, wow, I didn’t think of that, or that’s amazing that that laughter has had that effect.
Robin Graham [40:31]
I’ve had a couple of bad sessions, but it’s good to have only had two or three bad sessions in 22 years. And those are the ones that you learn from. On the positive side, I ran a session in business and at the end, I just left I thought it went, Okay. And a guy came out sort of chasing after me, and he said, I’d been off-sick with I think it was anxiety for so long, if only I’d done this months and months ago. So that was a, an impact on someone. The second one was, I did an interview on one of the local radio stations. And one of my friends who was I don’t know what the exact role was, but she was leading support groups, and she had someone with her who was suicidal. And they listened to my interview on the radio. And it changed that woman’s life, because she laughed along with, it was probably a good hours interview with music, and she laughed along with it. And then when my friend saw her some years later, she was doing very well. So you never know the impact of what you’re doing. You never know who it’s touching, particularly if you’re doing a radio or a TV interview. And when you are when you drop ego when you’re being natural, when you’re just speaking from the heart that will touch people’s lives. I’ve enjoyed some of my sessions very much. Um, but what was your question?
Pete Cann [42:11]
You’ve answered the question, a couple of standout memories where someone has actually, you know, come up to you and said something that you know, as as resonated with you and now it’s the face fantastic. And this is the thing is that it’s that ripple effect as well, Robin, isn’t it where actually, you do a session and I found this quite a lot through lockdown is that I’ve done a session over online. And then I’ve had a message from somebody saying, Actually, my family were downstairs, they could hear me laughing I went down past the giggle phone started doing this laugh, and the energy just lifted in our house. So laughter has got this fantastic ripple effect. And you’re right in saying that, you know, you just don’t know who’s listening or who’s aware of who’s consuming what you’re doing, I suppose and taking some of that energy from you, which is which is amazing. So I’m conscious of the time this because we are having a fantastic conversation here. And I could feel that there’s probably gonna be a second episode at some point, Robin, if you’re up for carry on this conversation. possibly live actually in person I think would be quite nice as well, if I’m honest. So I’m going to ask you two more questions. Okay. So first one is because we’re both laughter Yogi’s, two laughing exercises that we can share with the audience.
Robin Graham [43:36]
Wow. Okay, so I was a guest on BBC One, on a Sunday morning show where they had some top guests in talking about happiness. And I was on Zoom. And I had about three minutes in the hour, which was very impressive. And I was asked to lead an exercise. And so for this one, if people are on their own, I guess it will be good if they’re standing in front of a mirror. But it’s really good when you’re with someone so you put your hands out in front of you. So you stretch your arms out in front of you, you put your hands up so you’re bending your fingers, that your fingers are pointing the ceiling. And you just wind up your hand as if your wrists are clockwork springs, and you wind them up round and round and round. And after six or seven, they’re starting to get a bit tight, and there’s no chance to wind them up any more. So they’re going to unwind with a wave to yourself if you’re looking at the mirror or to the people on the screen or the people with you. And a laugh. So here we go. 3-2-1 hahaha…
Robin Graham [45:00]
You wanted another one? Oh, dear, oh dear. Oh dear. Okay, so in the body, there are subtle Pathwork pathway. Power pathways in the body, there are subtle pathways. And this exercise represents some of those subtle pathways to me, if you ever see anyone meditating, and they’ve got their first finger and thumb touching, they’re making a pathway, there are all these there are so many things we don’t know about the body. But some people who have studied from a different point of view, know about these subtle pathways. So I just liked the idea of the difference between these two exercises. So I’m sitting down in a chair, I’m gonna raise my hands to the side of my head slightly behind me, and I’m gonna then laugh down five times. So I’m going to lean forward and laugh down, come back up, then down again. While laughing come back up five times. And then you see how that feels. Then you started down a bit bent in front of yourself and laugh up. So here we go five times laughing down I’m definitely a laughing up person. But he’s different and it’d be different every day
Pete Cann [46:49]
Amazing I love the both of those exercises. Although obviously audience can’t see what was going on but you explained them really really well but it’s the fact that you were using your body like as part of your muscles and your arms and the energy was was being transferred. I think it’s the right word by using laughter and body action, but that you know, I’m trying to say Robin hopefully, hopefully the listeners are as well so Okay, so there’s people that are listening to this right now and going right I like this guy, Robin and I would love to hear some, some more about him or find out more about him, where’s the best place for them to go?
Robin Graham [47:32]
My organization, which is a community organization, it’s called feel good communities CIC. so feel good Fe L G, OD community at sea o m m u n R T I e S. CIC? Okay, and the website at feelgoodcommunities.org There’s no UK in it, it’s just.org. So feel good news.org. Facebook, Robin Graham laughter facilitator. And those are probably the best places to find me. If you find me in the street, or in the forest. Well, that will be fun, but that’s not the best place to find me.
Pete Cann 48:14
So final thought then what three things bring you joy?
Robin Graham 48:18
What brings me joy. First of all, my guru. There is such deep joy, as I say the breathing techniques have possibly kept me alive to help me deal with diabetes and keep my weight down. As you see I’m super slim, compared to how I used to be. And also, I mean, he talks about three things that we do in life. This is what life is about. It’s doing our own practice, whether that’s as well some spiritual practice. So that could be laughter It could be breathing, I do both. The second is coming together to share knowledge. The third is doing service to others for others. And just I developed the laughter work because of his inspiration. My health is better because of his inspiration, and I can uplift my mood through his inspiration. So the Art of Living Foundation is first the second is Dominica. Dominica is two years and six months old, and she is the daughter of my sort of soulmate. And she is the most beautiful, loving little girl ever and I’m not biased. I’m not biased. She really is. And I get such joy. Yesterday I took around a parachute, you know the toy parachutes being things. So we made a den in the kitchen by hooking it up on the various cupboard doors, and just hiding underneath it. There’s so much joy and playfulness and love there. And the third thing is probably to do with food. It’s probably to do with food and it might be hotel shocked other milk chocolate praline with a swirl on top.
Pete Cann [50:14]
It might be Yeah.
Robin Graham [50:16]
I’d love to try those again. So
Pete Cann [50:19]
Fantastic Robin, thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for listening to laughter and positivity with Peter. To access today shownotes and exclusive content, please head over to petecann.com/podcast. Be sure to tune in next week for your next dose of laughter and positivity. Until then, remember, if Pete Can, you can.