Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Laughter, Depression, and Healing

Having completed training to be a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, it is now my conscious intention to use laughter as a means for healing. While it would be easy to simply focus my intention on others, the admonition of "Healer, heal thyself" calls to me loud and clear. Actually, it veritably screams for my attention.

The myth and legend of "the wounded healer" has a long history, and I admit that for some years I have operated frequently on this level. When one is moved to dedicate one's life to the healing and well-being of others, I believe that one's overall effectiveness in that endeavor is directly proportional to the amount of self-healing and actualization which one can manifest along the way. Intending to bring laughter, joy, or healing to others, one's own demons must concurrently be grappled with (and perhaps occasionally subdued).

Healing is a life-long process. Wrestling demons to the ground is one thing, but what is to be done with said demons once they are prone? My long-time companion of depression has played the role of monkey on my proverbial back, sheltering friend, escape, crutch, affliction, and unwanted appendage. Descending as a fog, a screen through which the world is filtered, depression is like a miasma of suffering and darkness that blankets one's world like an ashen snowfall. The world becomes muted, cloaked in gray, bereft of joy. Can this companion be left behind or cast aside like so much unwanted baggage?

I sincerely believe in the physiological basis of mental illness while simultaneously seeing such illness also as a manifestation of spiritual distress and psychic disturbance. Walking this line of Western and Eastern thought, I move professionally in the world of mainstream medicine, take antidepressants (which I credit for saving my life), and also subscribe to modes of healing viewed askance by the majority of medical providers. Thus, based on those diverse belief systems to which I subscribe, I view my own depression as a chemical/physiological illness which I can heal and recover from through both traditional and unorthodox methods. In my personal recipe book of healing, the more methods the merrier.

With a desire to continue to provide opportunities for healing for those with whom I work and play, it is wholly apparent that continuing to sweep out my own corners and clean my own house is not only recommended, it's a vital necessity. Walking one's talk is not only a figure of speech, it is also a way of life manifest in one's daily actions. I am in the process of recommitting to my own healing and personal growth, knowing that my effectiveness in the world as a healer and nurse is intrinsically tied to my own success on the home front.
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