Reverend Langmead abides by the 11th commandment: Thou shalt laugh. By Rachel Wells.
The first thing Reverend Howard Langmead does each day, even before his morning prayers, is take his dogs to the park for a run and a good belly laugh.
Despite the strange looks, Reverend Langmead, who believes the 11th commandment should be "Thou shalt laugh", says it's the best medicine.
"I just run around and laugh out loud. It's a great way to start the day," say the Reverend, of St John's Anglican Church in West Brunswick.
Langmead has so much faith in the healing qualities of laughter that he's trained as a Laughter Club leader with Indian laughter expert Madan Kataria, and now conducts regular laughter workshops throughout Melbourne with volunteer groups, the elderly and at various conferences. Later this week he'll host his first public laughter workshops at the Golden Gate Hotel in South Melbourne.
Langmead, who first became interested in the dynamics of laughter following a 10-year career as a stand-up comedian, including six Melbourne International Comedy Festival shows, believes laughter is good for the mind, body and soul.
"Research has shown there are some amazing healing benefits in laughter," he says. "A good laugh releases endorphins, boosts the immune system and helps in healing and recovery. It's also a natural painkiller," he says.
On a spiritual level, Langmead says laughter can help people take a more positive approach to life.
"Life can be stressful, and stuff happens in life that we have no control over. Laughter can help in developing a willingness to smile at things or laugh at things and not let life get us down."
Langmead says his workshops are comprised of two components. The first is about teaching people how to laugh. The second is about teaching people to choose to laugh.
"We use simulated laughter that then leads to real laughter - it's simply about teaching people how to laugh."
"The second aspect involves talking about laughter and the benefits of laughter, and talking about ways people can introduce more laughter into their lives," he says.
Langmead believes God has a sense of humour, and says everyone can benefit from laughing more.
"Laughter gives me a real sense of life and wellbeing, and I want to share that laughter and joy."