Mirth to be measured at laughter contest

Physiological benefits akin to meditation, researcher says


Researchers are only beginning to understand the full physiological benefits of a hearty chuckle, according to the hosts of Ireland’s first laughter championships.

Not only is there no such thing as a “bad laugh”, but it has the same impact on the brain as meditation, says Siobhán Kavanagh, a PhD student at NUI Galway’s school of psychology.

Research on practitioners of laughter yoga has shown that it increases levels of life satisfaction, nurtures positive emotion and decreases stress, she says.

It involves a combination of breathing, laughter and meditation to “provide people with a safe space” for a good chortle, she says. A similar “safe space”, but with an audience, is being offered to competitors in tomorrow’s laughter championships at 1pm in the Galway Harbour Hotel. Diabolical, maniacal and “Alabama knee slapper” sounds will qualify, she says, as will snorting and braying. “The more distinctive the laugh, the better chance it has of having an impact on the audience.”