Gilda's LaughFest 2012 - "I love you, please come back!"
Once again this year, it was my privilege to provide two Laughter Yoga sessions every day at Gilda’s Club in Grand Rapids, Michigan during their ten-day LaughFest. During that time somewhere between 500-600 people, ranging in age from 12 months to 90 years, laughed with me. This was a free community event with no restrictions of any sort for any class; consequently, the diversity was amazing. My classes were a mix of pre-teen kids, along with groups of developmentally disabled young people, teenagers in substance abuse programs, deaf and blind elderly adults, men whose wives had dragged them in, college students, lots of yoga students and practitioners, plus a multitude of middle-aged females seeking joy. . . which they found! Even the most reticent willingly participated and ended the session heartily laughing.
I like music in my sessions and this time, I included more than usual. My typical class begins with some of the basic standing exercises, moves on to standing couples and then to the floor. On one of the first days, groups of developmentally disabled young people came en masse. One young woman was very excited and told me she had come last year and she was so excited to laugh again – she remembered me and she wanted to laugh! Several had Down Syndrome, were extremely withdrawn and hesitant to take part, but slowly they did.
The Other Four-Letter Word . . . YOGA, as in Laughter YOGA!
Several years ago, soon after I had completed Laughter Yoga Teacher training, I was visiting an elderly aunt whom I eagerly wanted to engage in my laughter scenarios. We laughed and laughed and had a really great time, but as I was getting ready to leave, she took my hand and said in a super serious voice, “Now, Sue Ann, I loved the laughter, but I hope you’re not going to use that word!” “What word?” I replied. Cautiously, she whispered, “YOGA!”
So what was the problem with this word, “yoga”? Her response to me was that it “was from the Devil”. My response, “Oh.” And that was the end of that or so I thought.
Fast-forward about seven years to the summer of 2011. I was asked to present Laughter Yoga to a group of fundamentalist Christians in Montana – I live in Michigan. About three weeks before I was to present, my friend, an old classmate from nursing school days, whose husband was the pastor, called to say there were several members of the congregation who were extremely upset with the “Laughter Yoga business” and asked me if I would talk to her husband about it. We talked, he asked a few questions and seemed satisfied all was innocent, that I would not be leading his congregation straight to Hell.
CANcer-Proof Your Life . . . YES, You CAN!
CANcer-Proof Your Life is an innovative program addressing life, whether before, after or during a cancer diagnosis, in a holistic manner, combining the best from many different mind, body, and spirit modalities. This is not a one-size-fits-all program, but one in which you will choose what techniques will best suit your needs.
There are NO claims that any one of these modalities cures cancer, but evidence-based research indicates that much can be done to reduce cancer risk and more important, decrease the risk of its recurrence.
During my own cancer experience, not one word was mentioned about how I should live my life after treatment. Because of that omission, coupled with my background and passion regarding alternative therapies, I have been compelled to share my knowledge and expertise with others in an informative and fun-packed 6-week anti-cancer, wellness program. Unlike many programs, healing is addressed not simply from a single dietary viewpoint, nor simply from a spiritual one, but instead one which encompasses and strives to balance all components of mind, body and spirit, laughter being at its heart!
The Perfect Laughter Yoga Training Venue - Gilda's Club Grand Rapids!
Training at Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, MI – May 21-22, 2011
Training in the perfect place with the perfect number of students is, what can I say, PERFECT! I realize that according to “The Law of Imperfection”, perfection is all in the mind, a product of our wild and crazy imaginations and expectations. So be it, Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids successfully measures up to EVERY expectation of perfection in my mind for, not only a cancer support facility, but also as the most wonderful place for a Laughter Yoga Leader training site - it could not be better!
Laughing with Seniors
I was invited to present Laughter Yoga to a group of seniors at an assisted living center this week, something I have not done since leaving Alice Lorraine Care Center, the elderly care facility I founded in 1994 and named after my own grandmother, more than one year ago. Seniors were my business for many, many years, but Wednesday, I realized, although laughter is very necessary, I am not as young as I used to be. I left the Center so exhausted; I literally fell asleep while driving on my way home! They really pooped me out….but we had a good session!
When working with the elderly, one must remember that although they might not understand or even appreciate humor, they still LOVE to laugh…and for the most part, they will
laugh for absolutely NO reason, if
you laugh! You smile at them, they smile back at you; you laugh, they laugh; you sing, they sing. One lady told me I should be careful, because “they” ignore people with white hair – I told her mine was dyed, so I should not have any problems and she thought that was hysterically funny!
Of course, when I had my own facility, I laughed with my residents, as well as my staff, on a daily basis and pretty much gave up the idea of laughing in a group, because the majority were so low functioning, they were unable to either hear or understand; however, this group was functioning at bit higher level. I have been opposed to wearing hats, costumes, etc, but after my experience with them, I must re-think that stance. Although I remain opposed to “hat sharing” amongst the residents, I do think a colorful, not-too-wild, costume would be a plus for the laughter facilitator. Not only would the resident be more visually stimulated, but it would also make it much easier (at least for me!) to get into the exaggerated, slightly wacky mood that would enable a sillier than usual attitude, necessary to keep their attention and keep the facilitator “up”.
Laughing with the elderly requires a lot of individual attention, but otherwise, it is doing what one always has done with teasing, nonsense, and clowning, but in an even more exaggerated way….and it wore this senior out. Next time I will “dress” for the affair and go with the flow!
Attached is a video I made of the last HaHaHalloween I spent with the residents of my facility….gotta say, they loved the hats and I loved seeing them light up when they were all decked out!
HaHaHalloween at Alice Lorraine