This is not the 4th session of “LOL4REAL! with Oni” of laughing our way to wellness, with Laughter Yoga. This 4th session is only for this word press diary, it’s actually a recap of the 6th session that took place on October 30, 2017, a Monday morning. By the 30th, I led 5 sessions with Laughter Ladies at the local senior center, in the country/burbs community outside of Philadelphia. While I write this, tomorrow, Friday will be my 7th session. As I look back at Monday’s gathering, it was not a gathering.
It was an epiphany, an eye opener, a tug at my heartstrings which softly validated deep in my heart and soul that Laughter Yoga, is what I was born to do. Laughter Yoga is what I need to do. I was called to it, by accident, seeking and finding answers to how I can bring more JOY into my own life.
In the past, I have made a humble attempt to touch hearts with my art as a storyteller, a performing artist and now as an OFFICIAL… Laughter Yoga Leader. I practice with others as a “guide” as not everyone will be comfortable to follow the leader, until they release inhibitions in child like play. Some jump right in, some take time.
For me, to “perform” live, is a precious moment in time. It comes and goes. You can guess, by a standing ovation or an exageratted overlong applause how your “show” has affected folks. I am not an actress, I prefer ARTress, as I am self taught. So my on going motto in my storytelling career is the one plaque that I have in my studio which is a quote from Maya Angelou “The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”
Laughter Yoga has given me an intuitive wisdom beyond my 64 years. Maybe I had it all along. Now, my little group of Laughter Ladies turned on the light *!* in me too.
Last Monday, Laughter Yoga attendance was low. So low, the only person that sat across from me in the circle, was Missy. Missy is very soft spoken, never showing her teeth, shyly grinning, moving calmly and quietly laughing through all the exercises. Missy being the only one who showed up, I took it as a sign, a special time for me to get to know her. I needed to practice more than she, or maybe not. “Were you always this quiet even as a child?” I asked her.” “Yes” she whispered. “Oh, well I was always loud and silly as a child” I admitted to her. She softly smiled, looked down and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “So what?”
Moving on, I shared with Missy the brand new second hand book I had recently purchased at Amazon, The Great Big Anthology of Laughter Exercises by Jeffrey Briar with Dr. Madan Kataria and others. The book boasted over 500 laughter practices for health, fun and friendship. Its photos showed a diverse group of LY folks recorded in living color, it jumped off the pages. Missy wasn’t impressed, not smiling until she recognized the photos of folks doing the “Lion Laughter.” Proof, once again I wasn’t making this stuff up!
Missy and I sat face to face. I scooted closer as we viewed the ones we knew and tried out the new ones we discovered, together. I enjoyed the one on one with Missy. In our break time, she told me Bunny had a doctor’s appointment and quietly told me why Carol and a few others were absent. One of the ladies, Shirley, who was at the first session, waved a pass on joining us. She was sitting with two of her friends as they finished breakfast.
Shirley was limited in her movement, she smiled at us from a nearby table. When Missy and I did a “cheerleader” exercise to “Happy People” I ran over and handed out pom pom’s to the ladies. They all shook the pom pom’s as Missy and I did the ho, ho, ha, ha, her, her “Ants in your pants” to music, cheer leading exercise.
Missy and I had bonded for 30 minutes, when Mae walked in, right hand leaning on her cane with her left arm in a sling. I asked Mae when she will be able to take off her cast. Mae sat down and exclaimed, “Never. Girl they say I have to wear this the rest of my life. I had a stroke in 2013. When I first came here to the center, I was in a wheelchair.”
“Really, well you know our bodies have the ability to heal itself, look at you now” as I looked her in the eyes. “Well, that may be true Oni, because when I first came here to do Laughter Yoga with you, I couldn’t move the left side of my face, I couldn’t even talk good.” I stared at her this time. What was she saying?
“Really? You mean to say that Laughter Yoga has helped you move your mouth?” I asked.
“Yes” Mae said calmly, “I do Ho, ho, ho, (she poked out her lips), ha, ha, ha (she widened her mouth and revealed a full set of pearly whites) and he, he, he…(her “fake it till you make it” smile stretched back to her ears) even at home and now I can move my mouth and speak without a slur.” she leaned back and smiled at me and Missy. I was speechless! Could this “crazy” practice have such an profound effect on Mae, only 61 and is helping in her recovering from a stroke? It took me a few days, but I knew I had to share this on this blog/journal, with Dr. Kataria website, with Alexa and most of all with you. Norman Cousin’s who wrote Anatomy of An Illness, was so right, laughter is a healer.
3 little back stories in closing…but never ending!
Last year in 2016 I was hired to present my karaoke program with stroke victims in the Aphasia Group at McGee Rehab Hospital in Philadelphia. I had seen first hand the therapeutic benefits of music. One elderly lady’s daughter flagged me away and said her mother would never sing with me. Near the end of the program, I put the mic before her mother’s mouth, smile and encouraged her with eye contact. Her mother sang out Frank Sinatra’s “I did it my way.” I watched as the daughter’s eyes filled with tears and her mother and I sang bad karaoke – joyfully LOUD with all in the room.
The lady at the Senior center who didn’t participate and said Laughter Yoga was “crazy”, she stopped me as I was leaving. She told me she enjoyed watching and listening to my stories and especially the Laughter Yoga, with her buddies. She said she has a heart problem, she has a implant. It is the real reason she is afraid to participate. We hugged.
Is Laughter Yoga for ladies only? No way! As Mae, Missy and I did our cool down awareness meditation, I opened my eyes to see two gentlemen, cooling down. inhaling and exhaling with us. Just leaving their weight exercise program at 11:30…they said they would like to participate in Laughter Yoga. Would it be possible for me to change the time as it conflicted with their weight training exercises. I’m not sure, as of this writing, if the time will change.
Oh…November 2017 will be full of LOL4REAL! with Oni.
BUT, I’ll have to leave them soon. I spoke with Bill, the Executive Director and I let him I will return, eventually. But if my Laughter Yoga crew misses laughing, they can play Dr. Kataria, Robert Rivest, Alexa Drubay and other crazy Laughter Yoga folks on You Tube, up on the big screen TV. I hope they will feel free to keep practicing Laughter Yoga with the pros!
To be continued…LOL4REAL! with Oni @ 5th Session
Please leave a comment. I’d like to hear your thoughts!
Subscribe to be follow more LOL4REAL! Adventures & visit www.LOL4Real.com