Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about laughter and how I could use more of it in my life. Last night, my daughter and I somehow landed on a YouTube video about Laughing Yoga, featuring a woman leading a crowd. She introduced herself and immediately broke out with the most contagious, enthusiastic chuckle, drawing in the others to open up with some all-out belly laughs. About her name. It was hysterically funny, really. Members of the audience then introduced themselves one by one, had a good giggle, and then revealed a personal challenge. “I have breast cancer,” followed by rollicking laughter. It was bizarrely hilarious.
For the past several years, I’ve been trying to heal several autoimmune conditions that appeared mysteriously and have turned my active, healthy life upside down. I went from being fit, optimistic, socially active, and busy to being REALLY FRICKEN TIRED, putting on almost half of myself in pounds, depressed (don’t even be near my house when I’m trying to get dressed in non-yoga clothes), and almost living the life of a hermit. I do have some meaningful interactions with the kind people who work at the grocery store. I just could no longer stomach the doubtful, “Are you still dancing?” questions and the not-so-subtle looks-over at parties and events from the competitive runner/zumba lady/tennis set.
Okay, so back to the laughter. We recently discovered that our house is awash in environmental toxins, and, wouldn’t you know, a toxic body can become a body with an immune system on high alert, leading to autoimmunity. Autoimmune conditions can lead to chronic fatigue, weight gain, achey joints, dry eyes, swelling, and a whole slew of other symptoms. You know, true knee-slappers. We are pretty much living in a comedy club here. Although experiencing different symptoms, my husband and daughter have also come down with heretofore mysterious illnesses. Super funny, right?!
So, the whole idea behind Laughter Yoga is that laughter contributes meaningfully to our well-being as some even believe it can help heal disease. Mind over matter and all that. And even fake-it-until-you-make-it laughter makes a difference to put our minds in healing mode.
Do you realize how much influence your mind has over your body? I had a crash course during my labor with my second child. When my first baby turned one, I discovered that I was pregnant again. Ummm, okay, quicker than I had planned, but life is adventurous like that. So, during my pregnancy, I quietly worried. How would I manage two teeny humans? How would my first-born respond to a new, needier person hanging around his mom? Would I ever sleep again? You know, worries most, if not all pregnant-with-next-children moms have. I took these concerns and tucked them neatly behind my exhaustion and carried on.
I labored for 2 days. On the second day, I progressed to 4cm dilated and stalled out. Birthing a baby requires 10cm of dilation. I was stuck. The operating room was prepared. My wise and impossibly perky doula turned to me and asked, “Are you worried about something?” It all came tumbling out of my mouth, followed quickly by the contents of my stomach. (Hello, transition). My doctor examined me, and I had magically dilated to 10cm in those 5 minutes. My daughter made her grand entrance without surgical intervention within the hour. Moral of the story: never underestimate the power of your mind!
Okay, so back to today. That baby is 18. I’m newly worried, and in need of healing. How do I reset my frame of mind when I’m thinking about ripping the house apart, remediating and clearing toxins, and getting myself back to feeling like ME? On top of finding a supportive, knowledgable doc, I’ll take a small truckload of supplements, and add a daily dose of funny. What better to take with Omega-3s and activated charcoal than (selecting from the following) Steven Colbert, Ellen DeGeneres, Key and Peele, Will Ferrell, Melissa McCarthy, Carol Burnett, Tina Fey, or Amy Poehler. Or, I’ll just say my name out loud, announce that I am exhausted beyond belief, and have a huge fake cackle, trusting that my cells will move into healing mode, and set me on the right path again.
I must say I have learned so much on this journey, and continue to add to my knowledge, you know, with all of these crazy symptoms – hahaha! If you find yourself in a similar pickle and are looking for support, I am happy to help coach you in the right direction. A great team makes all the difference sometimes.