Rainbow Magic Laughter Festival 2017

The 2017 Laughter Yoga UK Conference and Laughter Festival: A Reflection of Love.

On Friday 9th June 2017 under the light of a full Strawberry moon an incredible group of positive people met to focus their attention on having a good time and opening their hearts fully to the healing power of love and laughter. We danced, we sang, we laughed and we played. The woodland echoed with the sounds of joy and we shined brightly for three whole days of summer. Hahahahah

Finally, after 12 months of hard work, today is Sunday. A quiet day of stillness and rest. A day of meditation, connection and listening….deep listening and in this post I’ll be sharing that quiet, reflective space with you, sharing my thoughts and hopes and outlining how by coming together as one we can easily co-create an even more beautiful world.

 “If you put out a vessel it will fill full of rain.”
Co-creation is at the heart of everything we do at the Laughter Festival and 2017 was no exception. The reason LF17 was such a massive success was because of all the amazing people who came and gave so much of themselves for the benefit of others. When we all dig just a little bit deeper, when we share the load and bring a little more to the table than we personally need for ourselves, then abundance is the inevitable result.

© Giles Atkinson

It’s true that Tim and I are good at bringing the component parts together and as such our small but happy training and events company www.laughtertime.co.uk is the main sponsor of the Laughter Festival, but it is the amazing people that come and the gifts that they all bring that makes our weekend so very, very special indeed.

A good friend of mine once told me “If you put out a vessel it will fill full of rain”.  With the help of a brilliant team, we put out the vessel. The venue, the website, the health and safety, the facilities, the equipment etc….. though it is the heart-centred beings that come from all over the country and beyond that are the sweet summer rain that fills the vessel to the brim, and last weekend our cup was truly overflowing.

Wow! I am always blown away by what we can achieve when we focus our attention and pull together as one. Thank you all so much. I’m proud to be part of such a talented group of co-creators and change-makers and my deepest gratitude goes to everyone who gave what they could.

A lesson in trust
Of course, running an annual event of this size involves some levels of risk. The first one that springs to everyone’s mind is financial and yes, that is a major consideration. Even though we are a not-for-profit community event that is supported and co-created through the generosity of many people, the costs are still significant and run into the 10’s of thousands of pounds (no small sum for two Shropshire country bumpkins). But putting those pesky pound notes to one side, there are many other, more subtle risks that have only become apparent with time and experience.

There is the risk that people will let you down, of equipment failure, bad weather, illness, accidents etc and then, as a festival organiser, there is the risk to one’s own personal health and wellbeing as a result of the stress that comes with managing all the risks (something I am acutely aware of since my experience of burnout)….. The list goes on and on. It’s quite a ride and not for the feint hearted. Hahahahah

But despite all the known and unknown risks, the hurdles and barriers, the haters and deliberate saboteurs, we continued, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, step by step. With love as our guiding light, with faith and the unshakable confidence that comes from a deep sense of knowing that what we are doing is for the benefit of all. It’s bigger than us, it has its own momentum and a mission to help as many people as possible to live happy and healthy lives. It’s a beautiful energy and I feel so grateful to be able to be in service with my friends in such a positive and fun way.

I have learnt from my own direct experience to have total trust in the journey of life. As long as my intentions remain good and for the benefit of all, then everything works out perfectly. It always does. It is only when goals become ego-centric, based in fear (often lack of money) that they become harmful to others and things start to go badly.

Go towards the light
We’ve all met them. Those people that undermine your confidence, that shoot you down at every opportunity. Those that can’t bare not to be the centre of attention and cannot abide the success of others. The trolls, the naysayers, the parasites that seem to suck the energy from others. Sadly with the rapid growth of social media this form of narcistic sociopathic compulsive behaviour disorder seems to be massively on the increase. The trick, I think, is to become quicker at noticing them and then avoiding them altogether. “Don’t feed the trolls”.

One of the many things I am noticing about myself whilst I am on this journey of self-discovery is how intolerant I am becoming of those who aim to cause harm and prevent others from shining their light. Sometimes this can be overt by way of deliberate sabotage but more often than not it can be disguised and hidden from public view in the form of emails, covert messages and gossiping. Energy vampires I have come to learn are simply those people that deliberately take up your head space….. ie those people that you think about, that you don’t want to think about.

The way I see it is that we have 24hrs in the day. In those hours what do you want to think about? If you are spending any time thinking about something or someone other than what you would like to think about, then this is a drain. A friend of mine tells me “Some people are energy drains and some people are energy radiators”. Don’t give the drains your time or attention. Just cut the cord now and think about what you would rather think about…. The garden, your children, your holidays, your love or whatever. We get what we focus on, so focus on the things you want, not on the things you don’t want. Just turn your back, walk away from darkness and towards the light. Do your thing to the best of your ability and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Buddha says… “There are some who are moving from darkness into more darkness and there are those that are moving from darkness into lightness. Then there are those that are moving from lightness back into darkness and finally there are those who are moving from lightness into more lightness”.

Focus on the light, hang out with the people that make you feel good about yourself. Focus your attention on all the good things you are grateful for and turn your back on what feels bad. Our emotions are our guides. They are a brilliantly designed energetic feedback system designed to nudge us towards a state of love. Do what makes you happy and don’t let anyone hold you down. Just shine your light, laugh out loud, sing your song and dance your dance with all the passion you can muster. Like attracts like. Light attracts light.

By recognising separation as the illusion it is and seeing everyone as another physical expression of our own true Self, we immediately stop causing harm to others because to do so would be to cause harm to ourselves. True enlightment comes from the knowledge that we are both one and yet separate at the same time. Hahahahah. That’s why the Buddha laughs so heartily. It’s all so hilarious! The cosmic joke.

© Giles Atkinson

Connection
Laughter Yoga, LYUK, the Laughter Festival, Laughter Time, Tim, me and even Simba the wolf dog are all about connection. It’s what Yoga means. Removing the illusion of separation, connecting with each other as one. One family, one community. All brothers and sisters under the same sun and moon. “We’re all just walking each other home” ~ Rumi

I love the way that laughter deeply connects us all and those feelings of connection were very strong at the weekend as we laughed and cried and hugged together. It’s really beautiful to see so much love and support within the LYUK family. There are so many good and wise people here to share our journey with.

Laughter Yoga helps us to connect with others, with ourselves and with the present moment in a very powerful way and when that all comes together in perfect balance, at just the right time, then amazing shifts in perspective can (and often do) happen. It is for this reason that our healing area is such an integral part of the Laughter Festival and I’m very grateful for the support that our healers provide.

Of course, some connections were only brief. I guess there’s only so much we can do in one weekend and I accept that some of those new connections need more watering and more time to flourish and achieve their full potential. Luckily, I no longer suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) and accept that everything is perfect in any given moment. Yes, there’s always more that could be done, more workshops I could have attended, more conversations I could have had but chasing those goals is a sure fire way to a very stressful life as they constantly remain just out of our reach. Been there, done that and I can testify that I am happier now with just accepting everything exactly as it is. Perfectly imperfect.

Rest and Relaxation
There’s no doubt about it, modern western life is busy and the wheel never really stops spinning for any of us and so I recognise the importance of getting some quality down time at every opportunity.

I have to admit that I absolutely love my work. I love creating and working with amazing individuals to help others and yes, I am probably guilty of working too much. Hahahah. However, I’m very grateful that my work is about helping others to live happier, more peaceful, less stressful lives so in my down time I get to walk my talk, practice the techniques and experience the benefits directly so that I can teach more effectively.

For me the best form of rest and relaxation is meditation which is something I do formally for at least twenty minutes every day. I find that the rest my brain gets from meditation keeps me feeling fresh, grounded and centred. The more I meditate the better I feel and the better I perform.

For me, meditation is not a religious practice in any way and I do not follow an official path or doctrine. No, for me meditation is a form of brain training….. teaching the brain to focus on just one thing….. the breath in this case. By focusing on just one thing (the breath) it stills our thoughts, quietens down the monkey mind and gives our brain the rest it needs to operate optimally.

If you’re new to meditation then you might like to give this simple 20 min exercise a try.

  1. Posture:
    1. Sit upright in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
    2. Make sure you are unrestricted around the neck and the throat.
    3. Uncross everything (fingers, legs, arms etc)
    4. Place your hands loosely onto your knees or into your lap with the palms facing upwards if that’s comfortable.
    5. Neck, back, head in alignment and your back away from the chair so that you are self-supporting and sat upright in a ‘dignified’ position.
  2. Timer:
    1. “If you can’t meditate for 20 minutes then you should meditate for an hour” ~ Goenke
    2. Set your timer for 20 mins (I use the free Insight Timer app).
  3. Breathe:
    1. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in before slowly releasing out through the nose.
    2. Observe the breath as it comes in through the nose, travels down the throat to the bottom of the lungs. Hold for a moment and then observe the same breath, the exact same particle of air as it leaves the bottom of the lungs, travels up through the throat and out through the nostrils.
  4. Repeat:
    1. Breathe in deep…… hold…… and breathe out long.
    2. Each time the mind wanders to other thoughts…..just bring your focus gently back to following the breath.
    3. Breathe in deep…… hold…… and breathe out long.
  5. Enjoy:
    1. Meditation is a highly pleasurable experience. With practice it can become like entering a state of pure bliss. Nirvana.
    2. Like learning any new skill it can be frustrating at first but I guarantee that each time you practice it gets a little bit easier and the results are well worth the effort.
    3. In time you will likely experience an increased sense of calmness, less stress, more laughter, better performance, less tiredness, improved relationships, more clarity and many more benefits.

Laughter Festival 2018
We’re already far too excited about our event next year and it’s clear from the number of ‘Pioneer rate’ tickets that have already been sold that many of you are too.

Buying your tickets early for this amazing event is important for a number of really good reasons.

  1. The ‘Pioneer rate’ saves you ££’s. As a first mover you get the advantage of 40% off the gate price.
  2. LYUK members can get an extra 10% off.
  3. Buying your tickets early gives us the capital to put down deposits and invest into the festival for next year to make it even better for everyone.
  4. We have a limit of 499 tickets available to sell and only 100 places at the 2018 LYUK Conference. Buying your tickets early secures your place and prevents disappointment.

Advance tickets to #themostpositiveweekendoftheyear are available here: http://www.laughterfestival.org.uk/buy-tickets

The Laughter Festival is a not-for-profit event for happiness, health and wellbeing so you can be assured that every penny is used to make the event even better for everyone. We have a policy of ‘everyone buys a ticket’… even the organisers. We all contribute to the pot so that we can all share in the joy that results. It’s the way we roll and we know that co-creation is where it’s at. By working together and helping each other, we all rise and achieve sooo much more for everyone. Consciously co-creating the more beautiful world that our hearts know is possible. <3

We can’t wait!
If you’re keen to get involved then please do step forward and make yourself known as soon as possible.
The sooner we sort the programme offerings and music and speakers and and and…… the easier the whole process becomes.

If you would like to run a workshop or speak or volunteer or know of a band, therapist, artist or trader who would fit right in then please contact us at info@laughterfestival.org.uk.

Next year is gonna be awesome.

Training and Workshops
We’re off to the 2017 Faculty of Public Health conference tomorrow to share the power of laughter and relaxation with those at the sharp end of public health. It’s a brilliant opportunity to spread the message even further that happiness and health is easily accessible to us all with some simple changes to our mind set and behaviour. We’re really hoping to get Laughter Yoga into the hearts and minds of medical professionals so that they will have more confidence to prescribe it as a complimentary practice in alignment with the likes of CBT and other Positive Psychology interventions.

On Friday we’re laughing with a group of 12 unemployed people as part of a programme sponsored by the European Social Fund and in conjunction with Bangor University. Bringing joy to those who have suffered for so long.

It really is beautiful work and if you’d like to bring more laughter into your life or the lives of those within your care, or perhaps you’re interested in training to become a Laughter Yoga professional and deliver your own workshops and programmes then please do contact us.

Our next training courses are in Birmingham and Congleton and early bird rates are still available for those that want to join us.

It really does seem that the time for laughter is now.  Hahahahah J

With love and laughter,
Wes.

PS – Save 40% with ‘Pioneer rate’ tickets to the Laughter Festival and LYUK Conference (offer ends 01/07/17). Don’t miss out! Tickets available here: http://www.laughterfestival.org.uk/buy-tickets/

PPS – Experience the true power of laughter on one of our many training courses here: https://laughtertime.co.uk/training/

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