LAURA: Lynda, you are all kind of awesomeness! We are so honored that you’ll be returning for your second year the Laugh-Fest. You have long been a YES-WOMAN! You know all about the power of saying yes. Let’s start our conversation with that. What does “YES!” mean to you?
LYNDA: Yes reminds me always that I have a choice and while it is change that keeps us in the uncomfortable stages sometimes, choice is the decision to move up or drop down. Yes signals a move up and reminds me that it always opens the door to so much more beyond the sheltered and comfortable, yes says you’ve got so much more to explore.
LAURA: You are one of the early pioneers of Laughter Yoga in the United States. After having been a professional in this field all these years, what have you learned? And moreover, how has the practice of Laughter Yoga transformed you?
LYNDA: I came into this understanding something about laughter as I had created a whole program about it before I even knew about Laughter Yoga. Through my experiences with Laughter Yoga I’ve found there is always so much more to learn the longer you play with it and it has given me a broad perspective to appreciate. I find when their is a commitment made to practice and develop, in order to share it authentically and purposefully, there never seems to be an end to what we can explore. It is really quite amazing. A few of the things that are remarkable are the fact that I no longer seem to have asthma and where I was plagued by allergy, which would make me sick, it is rare for me to be ill. One thing I think important to share, is that when I began I had a story from my experiences that I would share in the purpose and reasoning for my practice of it. Now while that story still has merit, it has greatly expanded to one of global proportions where I see a much larger implication for lessening aggression, the most plaguing problem of our time. It is a great remember of hope, that we were meant to be joyful.
|One of Lynda's Laughter Yoga classes|
LAURA: Recently, you have made a number of incredible trips, including one to Laughter University in Bangalore, India. How has this expanded your thinking about Laughter Yoga as an international phenomenon?
LYNDA: I would call much of what I have traveled in as adversity, and laughter has been a wonderful tool that has expanded my travel and explorations with Laughter Yoga. The trip to India was designed to serve as a contribution as I among others were asked for our experiential knowledge to apply some thought and design around the developing university for Laughter Yoga. They spoke English as their are 29 different languages in India and English is universal, so my lesson among the contributors was to slow down and listen well. It has expanded my appreciation of Laughter Yoga in the world. I think it has touched so many and to see so many happy faces remembering their joy, I am both humbled and appreciative to be a part of something that can make that kind of differences. We are now in 105 countries and 21 years, that is more than half the world influenced. It brings such a hope for humanity to know we can get glad in the same pants we get mad in.
LAURA: Lynda, you are the Goddess of Play (at least that’s how I think of you). How did play take such a prominent role in your own life and work?
LYNDA: Ha ha… goddess. I would say it is more the goodness of play that reminds us about how good and right we really are. I love the concept of play because when we learn to be playful in life we can really get clear about what all the tough stuff is about. We stop seeing life as a problem and we get wonderfully curious. We find out so much more than ever before when we are in the midst of play. When my kids were young we played a lot of games and we made up a number of them. One I have to laugh about is the “Secret Asian Man” game I made for my nephew when he was young. He loved to sing the words to “Secret Agent Man” and being Philipino he naturally thought they were singing Secret Asian Man… so for his birthday I made him a special game that had all the things he liked included and that is what it was titled. We still laugh about that today. I also created a sense of play or strategies for it with two of my kids who learned a bit different. I wanted to know how to understand what they were absorbing and in play I could see their strengths come out and learned to help them to use those strengths. Now my focus is on Emotional Education, not the intelligence of emotion because I really think they miss the power of our emotion. In play you can apply what you know in a safe and fun way and then appreciate the message so much more, we aren’t in so much resistance. Saying Yes gets us in touch with that power a bit too. My games and workshops on play are fun, creative and engaging, yet behind it all their is some wonderful learning that goes on that
LAURA: Why do adults need to play—and even re-learn to play if they have forgotten?
LYNDA: Einstein was a great proponent of play, calling it the highest form of research. People are stressed, overwhelmed and overworked, life has been handing us a boatload of unfairness and if we can play, we can release some of what’s pent up misunderstanding. Adults do play however, in sports and athletics and they even refer to their big ticket items as “toys”, so it isn’t really all that forgotten. You also have video games, and lets not forget the escape of a life time, Las Vegas. We have put grown up attitudes and titles on our play, though I think we get away from what play is all about. Adult play complicates things, where simple will do. It is often competitive and isolating so it has little of the good natured fun that nurtures curiosity and exploration like we had as a child. Where their is art, music and creativity, their is a sense of purposeful play, exploring and curiously questioning. Like laughter, healthy play creates a new perspective. Playing to escape is a temporary measure.
LAURA: You have also been a long-time teacher of the labyrinth and proponent of laughing and playing with the labyrinth meditation. Why do laughter and labyrinth belong in the same sentence? And what can we expect from the labyrinth ritual you'll be leading to open the Laugh-Fest?
LYNDA: The labyrinth was what brought me into laughter. I was in France and got along famously with one of the participants in our 10 day experience together, we laughed a lot. One of the days we were in the sanctuary of the Chartres Cathedral walking the labyrinth and something amused me, as I met the eyes of the other participants they lit up too, yet the one I always had a considerable amount of fun with couldn’t keep it under wraps and each time we passed a little more mirth would spill out until we caught each other off guard in the center and soon everything came out. The other participants joined in and it occurred almost instantly that this was the answer for the over seriousness of our facilitators. It made sense and so I developed a program that helped individuals learn to breathe along the long lengths in more functional ways and to extend their laugh as they extended the exhale. I didn’t know then how on target I was, but found the labyrinth was a wonderful way to shift perspective or purpose at each turn. I have had a lot of enjoyment in creating much in labyrinth design and art over the years and created some marvelous workshops and explorative with the labyrinth and laughter. In the past few years I’ve created a trampoline labyrinth, pudding labyrinths, play doh labyrinths, the bubble wrap labyrinth and of course last year’s toilet paper labyrinth was the quick fix for Laugh Fest. This year I have a labyrinth of puzzle pieces asking how we are the happiness of humanity. It is called “A Piece of the Peace” and while their will be laughter, it largely speaks on the aftermath of the peace that we find when we interrupt the discord of our forgetfulness. It is the liminal space of laughter and a walk that questions and realizes and laughs about it all. And participants get to write their pieces into the puzzle and it is traveling with me everywhere.
LAURA: What are your hopes for the Laugh-Fest?
LYNDA: I love anyone that creates a gathering for resource, networking, support and overall learning new and different in the world of laughter, play and joyful well being. I think it is a necessary part of our growth because honestly we are left to linger by ourselves after our training for the most part and it is a great rejoining of purpose. I wish for greater connections, larger purpose to unfold and wonderful insights. I am sharing this from the west coast to the east as I travel because the Laugh Fest of the Midwest just rocks in the feel good of being down home and real with what we do. It’s where you can hang your hat and be welcomed in and I so think the whole of our look at laughter needs this kind of retreat feel to rekindle and rejuvenate. I hope we fill to capacity and discover the more in each other well.
|Celia, Lynda and me at last year's Laugh-Fest costume party|
Experience the wisdom and fun of Lynda's leadership at this year's Laugh-Fest of the Midwest May 13-15 in Ferryville, Wisconsin. The all-inclusive price for the entire weekend festival is just $225 including housing, meals, snacks and all programming. If you act before April Fool's Day, you can still get the early bird special of only $199. Learn more and register here.