Laughter Yoga with Cancer Survivors and their Families

Fran J Joseph, USA
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Tuesday, 12 March 2013 14:38:01
Each year breast  cancer survivors and their families, in the greater Burlington area, gather for a 12 hour rally and fundraising walk-a-thon to raise money, spirits and awareness for cancer research and services. When I was asked to lead a Laughter Yoga session for the participants at 10 pm to bolster energy for the all night walkers, I didn’t know what to expect. Would folks be interested? Would I be seen as an insensitive interloper? Is the event, by its very raison d’être, somber?

I decided to “call in the troops” when I heard that around 1,000 people participate in the relay. I asked Tuesday Laughter Yoga Club’s most dedicated regulars and the Laughter Yoga Leaders who attended my April certification program to join me to help spread the laughter. With me facilitating from a high stage, everyone else, I figured, could work the crowds, engaging and demonstrating the exercises up close.

Well, it didn’t really turn out as we imagined. But like most things, once we let go of our expectations, it turned out just fine. And we and the participants had fun laughing and playing.

The relay is held at a large fairgrounds, situated around a curving, makeshift, candle lit walking path. Tents and camping trailers line the periphery and, also, are clustered inside the path. People barbeque, talk, party and memorialize. The energy is high and decentralized. The luminaries add a lovely, soft glow that seems to hold the grounds and people together in a united spirit and purpose.

Continuous, organization sponsored activities flowed one into the next and as our session began 30 – 40 people were gathered around the stage. There was no mechanism for effectively recruiting additional participants from the dispersed crowd. The number of participants did, however, fluctuate throughout our session due to the steady flow of walkers who laughed with us as they wove past the stage. I like to think that they continued to laugh while the path carried them around the grounds and back to our group once again.

We received heartfelt thanks from several of the participants following our ending relaxation exercise. I feel grateful for the opportunity to have shared Laughter Yoga at the Relay for Life event and for the support of my Laughter Yoga friends and colleagues who generously shared their laughter and time with me.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 12 March 2013 14:38:01 )
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