Laughter Yoga Made Me Feel Alive After A Stroke
Cynthia Sharp, USA: Sitting in my living room, thoughts came slowly, and that is an understatement. It was the second week of December 2011; just a few days after I had a stroke, and all I knew is my brain that always moved quick and fast had slowed to a polite rest stop. Long gone were the days of accomplishing goals, the “to do list” became dormant, and all that was left was emptiness. I shed a lot of tears those first days – tears for what had happened and tears for what will happen…to me? You may recognize this in yourself, when I explain my brain as a “tap dancing mind” never stopping always dancing on with new ideas, rehashing the day’s events or planning the next days: heal, toe, heal, toe go,go,go But that intellect had been removed, and a calm thud of nothingness now lay where rhythm once had been.
After the first week of going on with this new life experience of nothingness, I decided to start just a few Laughter Yoga moves. My attention span small, I started out with 1 minute a day. Ho-Ho-Ha-Ha-Ha, within a week I had added some clapping, and just to challenge myself I threw in a “Very Good-Very Good-Yay.” I knew one thing and only one thing – I felt better after my solo Laughter Yoga than before. The breath work made me feel alive, I could feel my body circulating all the good energy that laughter brought to my life, and in the moment, stroke or no stroke, my brain working at a fast clip or slow as molasses, had no real meaning. What mattered was in this moment there was life, there ways joy and there was laughter. My life went on like this for months: physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and my own Laughter Yoga therapy.
Better and better I got until, “Yes, I can go back to sharing my Laughter Yoga with others.” I had become a Laughter Yoga Leader in 2009 at the University of San Francisco’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. Before my stroke, I had enjoyed spreading joyous laughter in my area, and now I was ready to do it again. In November 2012, I had decided that I would give away some of my time and talent to my local senior community as a gift for the holiday season. I put the word out that I would be giving back six Laughter Yoga sessions in the month of December. Many of the local activity directors in the senior society caught wind of it, and I was booked up in no time. Came December, and off I went to share my “Laughter joy drops” as I call them. I laughed with active seniors, seniors in skilled nursing facilities and some right at their bed side.
The joy drops I delivered where thrown back on me like a wave of exhilaration, and I finally came to truly understand the deep meaning of Laugher Yoga love. One year to the day from my stroke, there I was sharing my Laughter Yoga joy drops, and you know what? I cried. I cried because I could share my laughter time and talent. I cried because I understood how the simplest thing in life is one of the most important gift’s we give ourselves and others “Laughter.” But most of all, I cried because with no planning myself – just being guided to the right place at the right time, there I sat one full year later to the day with 20 seniors most of them who had a stoke themselves. What were we doing? “Laughter for no reason”…only I with tears rolling down my face, for I knew there is a reason to laugh, and laugh we did. were we doing? “Laughter for no reason”…only I with tears rolling down my face, for I knew there is a reason to laugh, and laugh we did. Cynthia Sharp Laughter Yoga Leader