Signs of spring greeted me as I stepped out of my car at Daphne’s house. My apartment is only five miles north and yet it lacked the tell-tale blooms of these early spring flowerings. Yellow forsythia swayed gently and daffodils were just beginning to unfurl. Tight, deep purple buds of lilac surprised me by their presence. I love the colors of spring, the feel of the sun and the smell of rich soil, light rain and the promise of everything growing. So you can understand that after starting our laughter coaching session inside, Daphne and I just had to come outside to play.
Daphne’s home is lovely. It is light and airy and reminds me of the beach. Creativity and calm resonate throughout. We sat in the living room, with tea, of course, and began.
It has been several weeks since our first meeting. A short-term roommate just moved out. Daphne shared that she was, “not feeling like herself”; similar to how she felt when she traveled last year to take care of her mother. Once again, she was experiencing feelings of fear and desperation. Now that she had her physical and emotional space back, she was beginning to feel more at ease, more balanced and realized that she had been picking up on her roommate’s emotional turmoil, as she had her mother’s. Daphne understands her sensitivity to others’ pain while also appreciating her need to stay more grounded for her own well-being and for those she wishes to help.
I asked Daphne if she had practiced the homework I had suggested. She admitted she had not as she pointed to her left side under her rib cage. A cynical and negative, inner voice there dissuaded her by insisting, “It won’t matter, in two hours you’ll feel the same. It’s just fake”.
We talked about motion creating emotion and about how when we are in our darkest places, moving our bodies, especially in joyful ways like choosing to laugh, can change our attitude for the better within moments. We all know how difficult it can be to do this. We’ve all been there – seemingly lost in the shadows of despair. I suggested to Daphne that even at these times, offering just the smallest of comforts, like nestling into the soft pillows of her welcoming sofa can be enough of a loving gesture to begin to turn it all around. It needn’t be much. Compassion for wherever we find ourselves is key. We also talked about the idea that in Laughter Yoga the laughter is “fake,” at least to start. I rather call it intentional laughter as I don’t see anything fake about choosing to laugh for our health. “Intentional laughter” sounds more empowering.
As Dr. Kataria discusses in Lesson Four, we talked about joy and its connection to dancing. And then we danced. We danced in Daphne’s living room while the Beatles sang, “From Me to You”. Those early Beatle songs are joyful gems. And dancing to the beat was fun and uplifting.
That is when spring fever took hold and we decided to laugh in the backyard. We can only imagine what the neighbors were thinking, on this close city street, when we were hopping around like rabbits with wiggly cottontails, opening our arms wide with one meter laughter, and running around pouring imaginary milkshakes on each other. We laughed together as lions, and then hugged ourselves fully, before shifting from crying to laughing and back again and again and again. It was difficult to continue the crying part while watching Daphne laugh - those pesky mirror neurons at work. A three minute standing meditation helped to ground our energy as we bowed with prayerful hands to each other for our shared laughs. It had started to drizzle. It felt cool and refreshing.
Once again, Daphne’s homework is to laugh in the shower and also to dance every day. We will see each other next week.
*not her real name