I had an epiphany today about my father Mr. William Findley. A lot of my strength comes directly from him. The hazing he gave me in my adolescence; which was hell; wounded me deeply, but as a result, it also hardened my interior
emotional life in that I have an amazing sense of self-possession, resiliency, and power.
I fear no man.
After what my father put me through, how could I?
He trained and hardened me for the world of men (Black and White).
Perhaps this was his greatest gift to me, the forming of my character, my being.
I love you forever.
You were quite a man.
Your son Stephen.
It was August 23, 2010 and I was attending Dr. Madan Kataria's 5-Day Laughter Yoga Teacher Training Workshop in Albequerque, New Mexico. He introduced the Gibberish Game in which you get to create your own language using real syllables, articulating nonsensical words. Somehow, beleive it or not, once you get started, you begin having "real" conversations. (Complete before posting)
The word is uttered once, then four times, Dr. K. Inquires in gibberish to me about the "Shakha" and I speak to him with such force and power, it resonates through the room.
The game continues. Soon, "Shakha" begins to manifest throughout the group. Everyone explodes with laughter when Rhoda stands up, twitches her hips and says, "Shakha, boom, boom, boom"!
The room explodes into laughter and their is a sense of aliveness, power, and joy.
Throughout the day "Shakha" is spoken my Dr. K. and he looks at me. It becomes a catch phrase, an anthem of some sort.
Our name tags have not arrived and I retire to my hotel room, realizing that I don't need a name tag.
I have become "Shakha".
I feel as though "Shakha" has been birthed that day as a new living entity.
I am now and forevermore "Shakha".
The physical health benefits of laughter are as follows:
Norman Cousins, author of Anatomy of an Illness, found there was no pain reliever better than clips of the Marx Brothers. For years, Cousins suffered from inflammatory arthritis, and he found that 10 minutes of laughing at the hilarity of the Marx Brothers bought him two hours of pain-free sleep. "Amusement’s ability to counteract physical agony is well documented, and as Cousins’ experience suggests, laughter’s analgesic effect lasts long after the smile has faded."
In the words of one of my cancer caregivers at the end of a Laughter Yoga Sessions, when I asked the group participants how did they feel, she exclaimed, “My entire body is laughing!”
So take that.
Lighten your load and remember a good laugh with others is more than fun, it's beneficial to your psyche and can significantly improve your overall well-being.
So, laugh it up!
Gets your entire body laughing!
- Stephen Findley, M.Div, BCC, CLYT
It was Wednesday afternoon and the Laughter Yoga Session I lead had come to an end. As is my custom, I ask each person to share how they felt or what did they experience during the Laughter Yoga Session. One participant; I’ll call her Carol; responded,
“All I know is that when I got off the airplane today and came to the hospital, I had a huge weight on my shoulders.” “Now it’s gone, the weight has come off my shoulders.”
The “weight on her shoulders” is one of the aspects of what is called, “Caregiver Burnout.” When people begin caring for their loved ones while they are being treated for cancer, they never imagined the toll it can take on them. Caregiver burnout is a medical condition wherein a caregiver experiences mental, physical, psychological and emotional exhaustion. It can also come with feelings of depression. Stress and anxiety may also appear as a simple case of fatigue and weariness.
A 30 - minute Laughter Yoga Session was all it took to assist Carol to experience physical, emotional, and psychological relief from her “Caregiver Burnout.”
Laughter Yoga has the power to change your mood within minutes by releasing certain chemicals from your brain called endorphins. If your mood is good, you feel good within and will remain cheerful through out the day. A Laughter Yoga Session will help you will laugh more in real life. You’ll have a smiling face, a positive outlook towards life and fewer negative thoughts.
What about you?
Are you experiencing “Caregiver Burnout” due to the care you give to your loved one with cancer?
Go take a Laughter Yoga Session.
Who knows, you might find a “weight off your shoulders” as well.
- Stephen Findley, M.Div,.BBC, CLYT
As a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, I offer Laughter Yoga Sessions to patients and caregivers at the Integrative Medical Center at a hospital on a regular basis for patients and caregivers. I would like to share a story about how Laughter Yoga began to impact the lives of patients and caregivers who attend the Laughter Yoga sessions.
One day, when I arrived to lead a Laughter Yoga Session, there was a group of about 5 or 6 people waiting. Some were patients and a few were caregivers. After an initial introduction and a brief history of Laughter Yoga, I went over the five basic ground rules and began to lead the group through a series of rhythmic clapping, simulated laughter exercises, and gentle stretching and breathing exercises.
The group began to hum along with playful laughter and infectious humor. Smiles, laughter, and levity began to bubble up and overflow within the group and around the room in a wave of pure laughter energy. After about 20 minutes of play, I calmed the group down and lead them into a Laughter Meditation. Eyes are close, breathing is slowed and soon, snickers, giggles, and laughter erupt throughout the room.
I ended the session with a series of positive affirmations. The group energy is high, lively, people in attendance report that they feel refreshed, relaxed, and rejuvenated. All in all, it’s been a good Laughter Yoga session. I dismiss the group and everyone begins to collect their belongings as it is time to leave the building.
As I make my way back to the main hospital, a married couple and their friend tag along beside me. We chit chat and they continue to talk about how much they enjoyed the Laughter Yoga Session. Upon entering the main hospital, their friend; a woman who appeared to be in her late fifties; turns to me and says, “Stephen, you know, my husband died a year ago from cancer and I have not laughed since he died.” I stop to give her my full attention. She continues, “If fact, I did not know if I could laugh again.”
Now; mind you; she had just spent the last 30 minutes “laughing her head” off during a Laughter Yoga Session.
I just looked at her and said, “Well, you’ve still got it.”
She smiled and turned away to follow her friends.
I made my way back to my office to prepare to go home for the day.
As I made my way to my office, I thought to myself, “Yep, she’s still got it.”
“She’s still got her Laughter.”
“May we all rediscover “Our Joy and our Laughter’” no matter what our circumstances.
- Stephen Findley, M.Div., BCC, CLYT