The Lighter Side of Transformation

with Lisa Wessan, LICSW

Compare and Despair: How free do you want to be?

A few weeks ago I became aware that one of my top-tier, close relatives unfriended me on Facebook…ouch! My first reaction was tightness in my neck and throat, I took a deep breath. Yes, surprisingly, breathing always helps dissolve some of the stress. But then I remembered that she was a teenager, and that it is possible she wanted more privacy in her postings with her friends. I made a choice to believe the best possible reason, and let it go.

This relative is dear to my heart – but I will not ask her, “Why did you unfriend me?” It could only lead to more grief. In the past, when I have asked other relatives “Why?” questions, I was scolded. “Why are you angry?” or “What’s wrong?” can trigger some people who would rather not discuss their feelings. I learned from those times.

The past few weeks, however, when I visited my Facebook page (once or twice during the week), I noticed I had this sad, unresolved grief about being unfriended by this relative. It wasn’t going away, despite my rational emotional response to it.

The good news:

Here is another moment in life when I can actually experience free will – I have a choice: will I let this Facebook event bother me and dwell on it, allowing this teenager to interrupt my thoughts and mental flow, living in my head rent free, causing me to spiral into a possible depression?

Or…will I focus on the strengths of our relationship and trust my first reaction?

I have a history of getting caught up in the toxic realm of negative thinking, which I prefer to call the Compare and Despair syndrome…

What is the Compare and Despair syndrome (“CAD”)? CAD operates on two levels. The first level is when I CAD myself to myself. There is the idealized version of me, and then there is the Lisa du jour; however I happen to be now. How this looks: I tell myself stories about how I could have been better…the classic CAD vernacular is fraught with guilt, self-wounding words and phrases such as I shoulda, woulda and coulda, always, never, and if only. CAD thoughts try to figure out how XYZ could be avoided.. In this case, how to avoid being unfriended on Facebook.

For example, “If only I were more athletic, thinner, richer, my relative wouldn’t have unfriended me…” As if my alleged lack of worth caused this teen to unfriend me. Nay, nay, I say, we don’t go there anymore…

The second level of CAD is when I compare myself to others, which always leads to pain. Practicing CAD with siblings, peers, colleagues and other is always a lose/lose situation; CAD becomes torturous when I read Vogue Magazine or The Week and am triggered by a tsunami of CAD, as I compare my voluptuous body with anorexic models and celebrities. It’s wonderful to read about someone’s success and be inspired – that’s always worthwhile. But to read about someone and feel less than, well, it’s time for some treatment for CAD.

So how can I choose to have a better mental health day? For today, I choose to focus on who loves me, who wants to be with me, who are my real friends, and who does care to connect with me. This is a choice! It’s also a practice –a psychospiritual practice.

From my experience, there is no will power when it comes to transformation. I cannot just make myself think about something – or not think about it — as if I am a programmable robot. No, it takes an army of angels to help me turn around these negative, toxic thoughts. From experience, professional training and years of helping others do this, I have come to understand that we have many kinds of helpers, both fleshly and invisible, who will, for the asking, intervene on our behalf.

Most healthy people by default are non-invasive and non-interfering with our troubles and thoughts. We need to pick up the phone and ask one of them for help. Sometimes this can be accomplished in a five-minute phone call. Sometimes we need to meet with someone for a longer talk, or seek professional help. Whatever, getting better starts with asking for help. Once we roll that stone away, the Universe can move in and fill us with the wisdom, compassion, unconditional love and the connection that we truly crave.

The good news here is that my little relative did a big favor for me. By unfriending me on Facebook, I was able to deconstruct this painful moment and turn it around into a joyful affirmation of my life.

So it’s true: my joy, my love and my experience of life are not dependent on who is my friend, on Facebook or otherwise. Instead of asking, “Why did she unfriend me?” I can ask “How can I be useful today? How can I make a difference? How can I give support, love and creative energy on this planet today?” Yes, asking the “HOW?” question is uplifting and invigorating. Asking “WHY?” just leads to a dip into negative thinking.

I have a few favorite affirmative prayers that can transform Facebook pain into something better. One of my favorites: “I am an irresistible magnet for God’s Goodness, and I attract the right friends, clients, peers and always get what I need.” I repeat this many times, until the soothing effect feels complete. Each time I say it, I am reminded of how much goodness and love IS in my life…and in my big picture, all is well. I am better, not bitter…

There’s also the old saying, “Man’s rejection is God’s protection.” I can choose to believe that this relative and I are really on very different vibrational planes – maybe even different Universes – so why can’t I accept that she is truly not a close friend to begin with? Let’s face it, trace it and erase it, DONE! (This is a great philosophy for people who are dating. I used to say this whenever a romantic situation wasn’t working out well. ) Whenever I am rejected, it is surely for the best, because everything is working towards my highest and best outcome.

Finally, we all end up at the Cosmic Café…at the end of time, at the beginning of time, forever; our souls are connected to each other in the web of life, in the Oneness of the Universe. There is no way to NOT be connected to this delightful little teenager! She and I are already One…why is my pea brain stressing over being unfriended, while our souls are joined together at the Cosmic Café forever? Indeed, whenever I want to connect with her, I can still pick up the phone, text her, or arrange for a visit. It’s all good.

Facebook is a great test for how lightly I am wearing my life. Am I experiencing my life as a loose garment, comfortable and easy, or is it tight, constrictive, punishing and unbearable?

Our greatest achievements do not show up on our résumé, on television or in the media, or in our bank accounts. There are no cash and prizes for these personal victories. Each day is another day of turning a defeat into a victory, a scar into a star, and the feeling is priceless. I can laugh at it and move on, free of any Facebook baggage. How free do you want to be? That is the question.

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2011. All rights reserved.

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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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Thoughts on griefwork and laughter….

Kahlil Gibran once said, “If you don’t cry all your tears you can’t laugh all your laughs. ” Do you think this is true?

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Laughing with the joys and troubles of life leads to growth…

Reporter Julia Gavin did a very nice job on this article, with special features, one case study and more….thank you Julia!

Reference:

Gavin,. J. (2010). Laughing with the Joys and Troubles of Life Leads to Growth 
The Chelmsford Patch.

 

 

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What is Mirth?

Mirth is God’s medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it. ― Henry Ward Beecher

When I started to be known as the “Mirth Maven,” some people would hear the term and say, “What is mirth?” and “What is maven?” Let’s start with mirth…

Dictionary definitions for mirth include: hilarity, great merriment, gaiety accompanied with laughter; jollity; to express mirth = produce laughter.

I have come to understand that my JOB (JOY OF BEING) is to help people get in touch with their inner joy vibration, which inevitably leads to laughter. Conversely, laughter leads to entering the realm of the joy vibration.

No matter how sad, depressed, angry, frustrated and in despair you are, having a simulated laughter experience — which becomes stimulated and real in the process — can help raise your energy and vibrational attunement to a higher level. Give it a try — you have nothing to lose but your misery!

© 2010 by Lisa Wessan. All rights reserved.

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Laughter Therapy for Neuropathy with Lisa Wessan

Lisa Wessan presents Laughter Therapy for Neuropathy Association, Weston, MA http://ow.ly/2E5bS

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Laughter is a Creativity booster

“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.” ~ Jean Houston

When I present keynotes on laughter therapy, I always enjoy seeing the looks of surprise on my audience’s faces when I describe how laughter affects the functioning of our brains.

When you have a good laugh, three important neurological events occur:
1. You oxygenate your brain; the increased oxygen feeds the neural network and helps it spark more efficiently.
2. Laughter increases the communication between the left and right hemispheres, across the corpus callosum. This helps integrate your linear and non-linear thinking, as it were.
3. The overall effect of this brain stimulation is increased memory, retention and cognitive ability. Problem solving and creativity are significantly boosted as well.

Always working as an evidence-based consultant, I have the medical citations from peer-reviewed journals for these studies. The question remains: how come this information is not widely known? Why don’t we have a laughter coach or trainer in every school, institution and hospital?

Next time I’m going to share some of my case studies from presenting laughter therapy in advanced Alzheimer’s units… to share the remarkable way residents with Alzheimer’s Disease snap into lucidity when they laugh with me…yes, I have stunning evidence that needs to be published…first here, and later in a journal.

© 2010 by Lisa Wessan. All rights reserved.

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“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen’s quote triggered in me the many ways and opportunities we have to turn ourselves around. Here’s one recent example :

One of my clients was recently going through a tough time…let’s call her Tess. Tess received many financial gifts from her mother — who attached huge cables of control to each gift. Tess had fought with her mother for years about her spending habits, and was in tears about their most recent crisis level.

Her mother had insisted Tess see a specific financial consultant to help her sort out her finances and get more organized with her money. In order to continue receiving financial support from her mother, Tess was forced to share the details of her spending with this man and felt this was a huge violation of her privacy. Her pain was deep, as a 40-year-old woman, she felt humiliated by her mother’s intrusive ways. She felt weak, exhausted, angry, frustrated and depressed from the fights with her mother.

Towards the end of the phone call, Tess said she felt she was falling apart from it all. She feared she was having a complete breakdown from her mother’s brutal words and actions. I was silently listening and saying small phrases of acknowledgment and endorsement while she spoke.

Finally, Tess declared that she would rather be estranged from her mother than keep going through this agony with her over money. At this point, Tess announced she would sell her large condo, move into a smaller place, and become financially independent from her mother. My comment was, “So, you’re not having a breakdown, now you’re having a breakthrough….this may be for your greatest good…what do you think?”

When I said these words, Tess lit up and became so excited…she had revealed her cracking up process to me, and now a little light was coming through the crack. Plus, she was now being empowered by this emotionally depleting situation to realize that for her to have complete freedom — even her own financial freedom — she would need to detach from her mother’s money.

This is what living and practicing conscious transformation is all about, how do we turn our defeats into a victories? How do we use these cracks in our lives for the evolution of our consciousness?
“There is a crack in everything, and that’s how the light gets in,” resonates for me on many levels…So next time, I want to discuss what it means when we are “cracking up…” The good news, the bad news, the view from therapeutic laughter research….yes, more on “cracking up” to be continued….

© 2010 by Lisa Wessan. All rights reserved.

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The mirth diet

“It’s been said that laughter is good medicine, but it also may be good exercise, says LiveScience.com. In a series of studies, researchers at Loma Linda University in California found that repeated bouts of “mirthful laughter” offer some of the same benefits—including lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol—as moderate exercise. In their most recent study, researchers found that volunteers who laughed while watching videos experienced changed levels of the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which are known to regulate appetite. Those hormones are also affected by exercise. The findings, says study author Lee Berk, suggest that some sort of “laughter therapy” might be an option for patients who cannot use physical activity to normalize or enhance their appetite.” (THE WEEK May 6, 2010)

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