Lauren & Alik Colbert: Laughing Lovebugs

Appreciating the life we have created means opening ourselves to more experiences that we can appreciate and enjoy. Often, we rush from one accomplishment to another without taking a moment to bask in the yumminess of where we are, so we can move to the next creation in a state of being in love with our life. It is empowering to recognize how far we have come and how much of unlimited more is ahead of us.

Lauren and Alik Colbert, aka Laughing Lovebugs, are husband and wife who are Certified Laughter Yoga Teachers. They bring joy first and foremost to themselves through their laughing yoga practice and, therefore, can spread their happiness from within to others. Lauren says, “My essence is full of appreciation. I really appreciate appreciating others. I feel that the more I appreciate others, I appreciate and see myself in others. This is what keeps me happy. And it keeps me motivated to continue to enjoy life and the way that I’ve been doing it because I love connecting with people. My essence is the appreciation for life and the people in my life. Even if it’s my first time meeting someone, I have an appreciation for humanity overall.”

We usually  our stress to the outer world. We often try to control the outside world, giving all our power away to what is happing outside of us. But truly, that is an impossible task because we can only control how we feel about the reflections we get back from everything and everyone around us. In recognizing that something makes us feel bad, there is an opportunity for us to shift anything within ourselves, which will shift our relationship with the world we observe. All these negative reflections become a blessing because we know that there is value in all of them. Positive or negative emotions are not good or bad; they are indicators in which direction we are focusing, wanted or unwanted. And we can always choose where to point our flashlight of attention; we can control how to experience the process of creating our existence.

“We found laughter yoga when we both were experiencing a very dark period in our lives due to workplace stress. I was just laid off from a job due to budget cuts and was unemployed for two years. And then when I finally got called back into a job, it was a very stressful work environment. And unfortunately, at the time, I had very poor stress management. For example, if I was stressed, anxious, or angry, I would drown in those emotions. I had no way to emotionally regulate myself. So, I ended up having health issues due to that stress. Every time I would go to the doctor and find out something was going on with me, I would ask questions like, ‘What’s causing this?’ The doctor would ask back, ‘Are you stressed? Well, you need to relax or find ways to manage stress.’ One day, I was at that breaking point where I was Googling unique ways to relieve stress. I wanted something that would be sustainable. And to my surprise, laughter yoga came up. At the time, I’d never heard of it. I did further research. I learned that it was founded in 1995 by a medical doctor in India who discovered that laughter is medicine. We all hear the saying that laughter is the best medicine. So, this medical doctor started treating his patients with laughter. And his wife was a yoga practitioner, so they combined the two with exercises of deep yogic breathing and laughter. At first, I was turned off by it because I’m not really flexible. But when I read, the only yoga part about it is deep breathing and laughing. I got excited as I could do both. Then I booked two different sessions to try. The first session could have impressed me more. However, this intuition kicked in and told me to give it another try. The second session was good. We had a different instructor at a different location, who provided a transformational experience,” says Lauren.

Transformation comes from within. The most potent ulterior motive is to shift our attention in the direction that feels good. There are infinite tools that allow us to soften the momentum of our mind from too much thinking. Conscious breathing, or what many call meditation, naturally releases resistance and raises our vibration into a blissful state of love and appreciation. The process of laughter naturally brings our attention toward a feeling-good state. The combination of both conscious breathing and laughter amplifies the frequency of fun, happiness, and bliss. In that state, we are inspired to do, therefore, to allow anything we want to experience in our life.

Alik shares his perspective, “I was at the same time looking at Lauren, saying, ‘Please don’t call me for this, because I never took yoga before, and I rarely meditated. And at the time, I was in a dark place myself; I had recently been injured on a job and subsequently laid off. I was questioning my body and thinking that I might be unable to return to work. However, I still agreed to go along. I wanted to support my wife, and I went with her. When we got to the studio, there was a lot of information about laughing and the fact that it takes 15 minutes for you to reap the benefits. Two minutes of laughter becomes contagious. And me getting the information from Lauren, and her saying the first session wasn’t really impactful, I was skeptical. The instructor gave us some instructions and asked us to rate our feelings on a scale of one to 10. We didn’t feel good at all, and 10, we felt great. I gave myself a two, and then the session started. It was uncomfortable at first: fake laughing for no reason while looking people in the eyes, laughing without any jokes or humor—it was totally new to me. I have a sense of humor, but I have a serious side. I sarcastically laughed halfway through the session. Then we learned that we reap the benefits, whether it’s real or fake laughter. So halfway through the session, I checked back in with that number I rated myself with, and I felt that the mind and body connection was literally at an eight. Nothing in my life changed, but I felt completely transformed. When we finished the session, I told Lauren how great I felt. We got home. I got ready for bed. We ate dinner. And I woke up the next day ready to show up in the world. The instructor challenged us to last for 40 days without a condition but just laugh more as a daily routine. The next morning, I asked Lauren to join me on a jog and laugh simultaneously. But it was a cold morning in New Jersey, and I went alone. I commenced a jog, and down a busy road, people were passing me by on a commute to work and were strangely looking at me. When I got home, I told Lauren I probably looked weird because I was jogging and laughing.”

Being honest with ourselves and recognizing how we genuinely feel is essential. By doing so, we can express where we are and move into where we want to be. When we feel bad, a great question to ask ourselves would be, “What would feel better right now?” And when we already feel good, a great question would be, “What excites me the most at this moment? What would feel really good right now?” Before asking these questions, we take a moment to take a few deep breaths and then ask, and the answer will be clearly received.

Photography // Ryan Powell

Lauren continues describing their Laugher Lovebugs becoming, saying “The next day, we went on this morning stroll together, and it was the most transformational experience ever because we did not talk to each other; we just laughed and walked. And, of course, at the beginning of the walk, it was fake laughter. I wasn’t a morning person at the time. But eventually, it became so joyful; this drift and feeling within me felt so good that we just started dancing while we were laughing. People were walking towards us but then crossing the street just because we were laughing and walking. Nothing could stop the joy we felt inside of us. Our inner child’s joy was awakened. Laughter was so powerful that it didn’t matter what was happening outside us. The way we felt inside was so joyful. It felt so free. And then, when we got home, we had this conversation, and we called it the first ‘aha’ moment in our laughter yoga journey. I said, ‘Did you see how people are looking at us? If we had stress or tension in our faces, would they look at us like we were strange?’ At that moment, we decided we would normalize laughter. We couldn’t wait for the next laughter yoga session.”

What other people think of us is really none of our business. The only important thing is how we feel about what other people think of us. Because when we are aware of how we feel about the feedback coming from others, we can look within and eventually discover the value of that reflection and change it if we want to. We can’t change others, but we can change how we feel about them. Then, true inclusion and empowerment start, when we include ourselves without putting the responsibility for our well-being and happiness on others.

“It felt transformational again. We felt very uplifted. We felt so empowered. We felt so free. And we were so enthusiastic about it that we both took the courses together and became certified laughter yoga teachers. It’s been a fulfilling journey. Laughter yoga is not entertainment. We’re not relying on humor, jokes, or comedy. We don’t force people to laugh. We encourage laughter through the laughter exercises. Laughter yoga allows you to make the mind-body connection. It allows you to connect with your emotions. It allows you to empower yourself. You may be experiencing stress, anxiety, fear, sadness, or any uncomfortable emotion—laughter yoga empowers you to get comfortable with being uncomfortable because you’re laughing without waiting on outside conditions to tell you to laugh. What laughter does is so powerful because you’re no longer telling your body that you can’t feel good unless something outside of you tells you to feel good,” says Lauren.

And then Alik adds, “Usually, we only laugh when we’re celebrating a special event, a special occasion when we’re in a good mood, and we feel like we have permission to feel good. When I was injured and laid off, I didn’t find that joy anymore. I didn’t laugh because I didn’t think I had permission. When you’re experiencing health conditions, you feel like you don’t deserve it. And what laughter yoga does is it empowers you to feel good because you exist, because you’re breathing, because you’re alive. Laughter’s benefits are real. You’re allowing yourself to release the happy, feel-good hormones of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. All of those healthy hormones are released. Even if the laughter is fake, it will eventually become real. This is what unites the mind and the body. Laughter is a universal language that connects us all. We all laugh in the same language. When we’re laughing together, we connect not only with each other and who we’re laughing with, but most importantly, it allows us to connect with ourselves.”

The benefits of first and foremost taking care of our state of being are infinite. Every cell in our body responds to our state of being. Therefore, it will signal us to pay attention to certain thoughts and feelings we are experiencing. Our body first signals what we think is connected to how we feel. If we don’t listen, the signal will amplify until it starts to show in our body as some kind of discomfort. When we catch that signal early enough, it will stay in a mere manifestation of slight discomfort as an emotion. But when it’s manifested as physical pain, it’s to chill out, relax, and then do anything that makes us feel better and good, like laughing.

Lauren explains the benefits of laughter yoga, “LAUGHTER It’s actually a form of deep breathing because when you laugh, you only exhale. When you exhale, you’re free, washing your lungs with all the co2 you have in. And when you do that deep belly blacking inhale, all that extra space that you made room in your lungs allows you to inhale all that oxygen in  your blood, stimulate your circulatory system, feeding your heart, feeding your lungs, allowing that oxygenated rich blood to flow through your body. And the better you breathe, the better you feel; the better you feel, the better your immune system works, the sharper mind is activating your parasympathetic nervous system, calming you down, allowing for you to relax, to repair and remove you out of any stress,” she pauses, and then continues, “And another thing that laughter does is that you release stored up feelings of emotions triggered by our subconscious. When we laugh, we naturally release those emotions.”

Like Laurena and Alik, if you want to live happily ever now, smile and laugh at yourself for sometimes playing a prank on yourself for not allowing you to experience good feelings and emotions more often. You are here to live nothing less than the life you consider is best for you.

As the Laughter Lovebugs say, “Deep breath in, and a big, big smile. This time, we’re going to exhale with gentle laughter, which is so much fun.”

Are you ready to have FUN and laugh your way through life?

Photography // Ryan Powell
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