Take a moment to reflect about what has happened so far. First you introduced yourself, then you did an icebreaker followed by a self-assessment. Then you explained how the class would work, followed by a demo of the four category of exercises that will be used.
At no point have you engaged in conversation with your participants. If you’ve seen some resistance (e.g., someone is either not participating at all, or half-heartedly), now is the time to address and iron it out. The last thing you want is have someone who doesn’t want to be there or is not able to listen to your words stay in your class.
The purpose of mentioning now the Laughter Wellness three key reminders is to:
- Remind all of important guidelines that will benefit them;
- Create a rational context for anybody who happens to be stuck in their head for whatever reason;
- Set the rules of engagement. This is how the class is going to work, not some other way.
Just before we start, there are three important guidelines to follow. Here they are:
What to say: Make a lot of eye contact! Connect with and express the best of you. See the best in others.
Why: The invitation goes beyond “just” making eye contact because we are not machines. It’s not what we do that’s important, but the energies behind it. You want to train people from the very beginning of your programs on the importance of focusing on the light rather than the darkness, on what works rather than what doesn’t, on what we have rather than what we don’t have, on love rather than fear. Connect with and express the best of you. See the best in others.
- People’s self-esteem and feelings of healthy social integration will be significantly boosted if you invite them to make eye contact at close range. A friendly and authentic eye contact encourages people out of their shells, fosters feelings of trust, and makes them feel more connected with one another and better about themselves.
What to say: Please follow along, do as suggested, and don’t talk. We will debrief at the end, and everyone will have a chance to share, but right now, we want to silence our minds as much as possible. Thank you.
About no talking:
- Humor is wonderful, and it is best kept for after the end of your sessions. Here you want to be in your body and simply experience, not be in your head and judge.
- You don’t have to be 100% rigid with this. It’s rare, but occasionally you will come across people who have humor in their blood and are naturally funny. They’ll make the slightest sound or say the most common thing, and somehow, it will make everybody around them laugh. This key reminder is not relevant for them because you simply can’t not be who you are, and these (rare) people just won’t be able to hear you or understand what it is you are saying. It is very relevant, however, to anybody trying to be funny to attract attention because that mechanism is completely unnecessary.
- This reminder is the only one you must mention to everybody joining your session that arrives late. If you don’t, there is a strong chance they will not understand what’s happening and try to fit in the best way they know, which is by attempting to be funny themselves in an attempt to make others laugh. This will be an undesirable distraction, both for them and for everybody else.
What to say: Be gentle, take it easy, avoid force, no extremes, and enjoy everything you do. Nothing should be painful and even less uncomfortable. No new pain! There is nothing you have to do. Make everything work for you. Respect your body and what it can or cannot do today.
If you have identified resistance in one or more of your participants: Today I invite you to a different kind of experience. What I am offering may not make sense right now and that’s OK. But if you are open to genuinely feeling better I guarantee it’s what’s going to happen within the next [duration of your program]. Now if some of you feel uncomfortable and want to opt out I fully respect it. If that’s you please stay where you are and have a seat. You are very welcome to join us if and when you are ready.
Why: Why be an advocate of fear-psychology? I prefer to focus on what can be done and how rather than what can’t be done and why. This being said, yes, to “follow your heart,” but don’t forget to take your brain with you. Laughing is not a substitute for medical consultation for physical, mental, and psychological illnesses. Laughter is universally well tolerated, but caution is advised in patients with certain concerning health conditions. When in doubt, do not engage in this or any other exercise program and consult with your doctor to make sure laughter is appropriate for you.
- Do NOT take ownership of other people’s problems. If someone asks you, “I have ABC health problem, can I join your class?” your answer should always be, “I don’t know. If you are in doubt, please do not participate until you get your doctor’s approval.”
- If they still choose to participate, you may want to lead a very gentle class with everybody on a chair. Prevention is better than cure. It is your responsibility as the instructor to make sure everybody is safe. Here is what to do when you are concerned about the physical abilities of one or more of your participants: