The First Movement-Impaired Laughter Therapist in the World
»I would like to attend a seminar for laughter yoga teachers,« said a woman's voice to me over the phone. »Are the seminar premises accessible with a wheel chair?« she asked. »Well, no.... we have stairs...., but we can pull you up,« I replied. The voice on the other side of the line said: »I don't think so. I have an electric wheel chair.« This is how the story began. Marja, the person who spoke to me over the phone, a girl with a different voice and an incredible spirit, insisted: »If you need a suitable place, I can arrange it.« I immediately realised how serious she was. We met in December and when I first saw a wheel chair approaching with the speed of light, a person with medium long her, big bright eyes, and a body that was uniquely formed by a disease called arthrogryposis, I thought this would not be easy to pull off. But when she started to speak I immediately knew that things will work out well, although I did not know yet how. »I want it so much that I'm willing to do anything,« she said, and you could see it in her eyes and her smile that she meant it. I said ok and we agreed to set a date. I had to consider adapting the program so as to give my best and allow her own potential to develop to its fullest extent. She found a suitable place at the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Slovenia. Given that we were the first in the world to do something like that, I had to use all my experience, my visualisation powers, and my creativity. As always, my goal was to give my best and to train a laughing yoga instructor who would be able to teach others. What came out was a program for movement-impaired persons. Several people applied and the seminar took place. The group included Marja, the only movement-impaired person at the time, Mateja, an entrepreneur, her playful teenage daughter named Alja, Anita, a shiny person who runs a health food store, Ana, a real teacher and assistant for persons with disabilities, and Teja, a human resource specialist, who made us laugh with her answers and her desire to organise a workout class for mums and babies. After the theoretical basis of laughter was explained and learnt, we moved to individual groups, simulated them, practiced them, and presented arguments. We then learned how to market oneself and the programs, what the pitfalls of laughter yoga were, how to handle resistance, who were the key people in an organisation to which one's offer should be addressed, and what the mistakes that I had done were and that they should avoid repeating. We also discussed the meaning of the scientific work, how to draft an offer, how to handle negative emotions, what was the use of babble, how to make a contact with a group.... It seemed as if two days went by in a moment. They were funny, dynamic, creative, and merry days full of dancing and laughter. Everyone passed the theoretical as well as practical exam with distinction. They got rid of their fears and prejudice, removed their emotional as well as physical blockages, and shone in all their beauty and greatness. I can hardly wait to see where they organise their first seminars. This will be the biggest reward for me. And it was Marja who showed us that all this was possible.