The Lighter Side of Transformation

with Lisa Wessan, LICSW

Excited! My quote is featured in 2011 Woman’s Advantage Calendar….

I’m excited that my advice was chosen from over 5,000 submissions to be featured in The Woman’s Advantage Shared Wisdom Calendar for 2011. My quote is one of 365 selected—one for each day of the year—and will be featured on January 16, 2011. My quote is “There are no perfect people here at Earth School, so let’s put the FUN back in dysfunctional! “ Find out more about this unique calendar at the Woman’s Advantage.

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Defining the Laughgasm (Laughing Orgasm)

As sex educator Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright has noted, “While I’ve had some out-of-this-world orgasms, I personally think that a good laugh gives orgasm a run for its money. Nothing is more delicious than losing yourself in a side-splitting, seemingly endless crying with laughter session. It’s no wonder that being drunk with laughter has so many benefits. Laughter boosts your immune system, healing and cleansing your mind, body and soul. It increases the level of endorphins and neurotransmitters that are health-enhancing while lowering the level of stress hormones in your body, like cortisol. Laughter provides fantastic physical and emotional release. It gives your body a good workout, exercising the diaphragm, contracting the abdominals and working up your heart rate. It enhances your mood, drawing you away from any negative emotions, like anger, that are consuming you. In being utterly contagious, laughter also connects us. Hmmm, kind of sounds a lot like orgasm.”

I would never say that laughter could replace sex and orgasms, but there are times when a good full-bodied laugh can certainly help you experience the relief, release and feeling of refreshment you might have from an orgasm, plus it can reboot your nervous system, similar to an orgasm…that is, clear the mind, settle the synapses, relax-reboot and all is well…

I met my first laughter meditation teacher when I lived New York City, his name is Laraaji. Besides facilitating a brilliant laughter meditation class, Laraaji is also a powerful musician and peace activist. Laraaji says “Laughing and orgasming are very similar. For me, ejaculatory orgasm is draining. Instead of coming, its more like leaving. I prefer orgasmic laughter, it nourishes my nervous system, keeps my expressional vehicle loose, and puts me in touch with my feelings. As part of my yogic practice each morning, I have a hearty laughgasm.” Watch Laraaji having a LaughGasm here…

Laraaji facilitates a wonderful two-hour laughter meditation program in NYC…definitely worthwhile if you’re in the city and want to have a mind-blowing laughathon. He’s not big on social media, but he does share his beautiful zither music here.

In my keynote speeches, seminars and consulting work on therapeutic laughter, my audiences often have laughgasms, but I have never labeled them or called them out on it…are we ready? Dare I do it? Should I even consider marketing my work as offering Laughgasms? What do you think?

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Earth laughs in flowers. ~ Emerson

Earth laughs in flowers. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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World Peace Through Laughter? Is this a joke?

When I did my first training for certification in Laughter Yoga, Laughter Meditation and Laughter Therapy, my teacher, Madan Kataria, MD, talked about his vision for world peace through laughter. Some scoffed, but he planted a seed in me during that training…I had a vision of having a large room, or even Madison Square Garden, filled with Muslims and Jews, experiencing extended, massive periods of laughter together. Not laughing at jokes – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but laughing at the absurdities, incongruities and paradoxes that surround the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and that permeate the prejudices in all confused religious conflicts.

Besides all the extraordinary physiological benefits from laughter which you have experienced – the lowering of cortisol levels, muscle relaxation, and improved memory and cognitive functioning – I have seen what laughing together in groups can do. It dissolves anxieties, tensions, prejudices, fears and allows people to feel safe enough to say what they need to say. Laughter is surprisingly disarming, and when we laugh together our walls and facades come down. Laughter is the great equalizer, one of the most profound democratizing energetic forces available for transformation.

Well, it happened this summer…right here 30 miles north of Boston, due to the progressive spiritual leadership of the Qutbi Masjid (mosque) of North Billerica, MA, and Congregation Shalom of North Chelmsford, MA. These two enlightened communities teamed up for a day of healing in the Merrimack Valley. I was invited to be the keynote speaker at this Health and Wellness Fair…what an exciting moment!

My vision for a harmonious Middle East, for more brotherly acceptance and respect (and eventually love) seems to be happening now. My hope and prayer is that this moves from the micro to the macro level, one laugh at a time. Read more about this incredible event in this recent article from THE JEWISH JOURNAL.

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Invitation for centenarians, gerontologists and studio audience participants…

I am currently seeking healthy, alert and oriented centenarians to be interviewed for “The Super Centenarian Series” in 2011, my new my cable television topic. If you know any centenarians in the greater Boston area, please invite them to contact me.

I am also interested in talking with gerontologists and health care professionals who work with the elderly for the caregiver segments.

Also, if you would like to be part of our studio audience, please join us!

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Nothing is impossible…

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’M POSSIBLE!” ~ Audrey Hepburn

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Retirement Readiness and Longevity…are you ready to be a healthy, wealthy Supercentenarian? (that’s over 110 years of age…)

I’m excited to be a guest on Mike Bonacorsi’s radio show tomorrow, Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 12 Noon – 1 PM, broadcast live from Nashua, NH, in the studios of WSMN, 1590 AM on your dial, and globally webcast from WSMN at this link: http://wsmn.wgamthegame.com/archives/138.

Bonacorsi is a certified financial planner, and is well-known in New England as “The Retirement Readiness Expert.” Together we will explore the good, better and best ways to manage money, life and health affecting baby boomers+. Please join us for a fun lunch and learn experience!

Here are some of the questions we will explore:
Last week the oldest person in the world passed away at 114 years-can this be the norm at some point?
Is living to an advanced age 90+ genetic, good living, luck or a curse?
How difficult is it for someone to accept the fact we are getting older, into the advanced years?
Do we accept the fact gracefully, or with resignation?
As a population we are living longer-can we maintain a quality of life as we get to 90 or maybe even 100+ years?
What can we do as we age to maintain the quality of life we want?

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What makes a strong woman?

Laughing at the insanity of life is very worthwhile. Strong women laugh early, laugh often, and laugh deeply. -Lisa Wessan

I was featured in this book a few years ago, as one of 101 “remarkable women” who were quoted on this topic…this is a lovely book, great gift item for the women you want to empower… I’m featured on page 33, available here at www.amazon.com.

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Nashoba Valley Medical Center chooses laughter therapy to celebrate Nurses Week

I know my group has hit the sweet spot when people are laughing and crying, maybe even a little drool is running down their faces, from learning to have an extended, massive laughter session without a stream of funny jokes….learning to “laugh for no reason” is key in this work.

The Nashoba Valley Medical Center, Ayer, MA, invited me to be their keynote speaker in honor of Nurses’ Week. So May 12, 2010 we had a large gathering at the Groton Country Club in order to experience “Therapeutic Applications of Humor and Laughter for Caregivers.”

Everyone starts out serious – because laughter therapy is part of a serious multimodal stress reduction program that aims to lower cortisol levels and blood pressure, increase immunoglobin A to prevent flus and colds, and release all kinds of stress in the muscles and joints, oxygenate the brain and leave everyone feeling refreshed and energized. That, plus much more. What is beautiful is to watch a group of intelligent, noble, dignified people give themselves permission to let their guards down for a few minutes to experiment and have a roaring good time. The psychological benefits are so numerous – increased cohesiveness in the group, open to forgive, enhanced compassion and team building strengthened. I will continue this in a separate article.

Mary Mathieu, the Director of Case Management at Nashoba Valley Medical Center summed up her experience of my keynote: “Lisa Wessan, ‘The MIrth Maven’ was invited to be the speaker for the Nurses’ Day dinner. She presented a program, ‘The Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter for the Healthcare Professional.’ Having been to many Nurses’ Day dinners in my 21 years as an RN, I enjoyed this presentation the most. She began by providing evidence-based research on the physical and psychological benefits of laughter and the second half of the program was lots and lots of laughter…I laughed until I cried….I laughed on the way home…the next day…and thinking of the event still makes me smile. I look forward to attending many more of her events in the future. I very highly recommend her!!!”

In the meantime, it was my honor and privilege to participate in this expansive event. Nashoba Valley Medical Center joins with several other large hospitals and organizations in Massachusetts that are clearly on the vanguard of a growing movement to include laughter therapy and team building with laughter as part of an empowered management strategy. Based on my short time here, it is evident that New England health care facilities seem to trust that laughter therapy will help prevent burn-out, reduce turnover, and keep their professional caregivers high functioning and more productive.

My professional goal: to have a full time certified laughter therapist in every hospital!

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