Sunday, December 8, 2013

Maxims of The Peaceful Teacher


The mission of World Laughter Tour has always been, "Together we can lead the world to health, happiness, and peace through laughter.” Every edition of the “Study Guide and Reference Manual”*, which has grown from 30 pages to 145, includes this advice to our students:

“Find your source, live from it, keep your heart open, and laugh generously.
These are maxims of the peaceful teacher, the tools of a gentle healer.”
~Alan Cohen

Not only are humor and laughter therapeutic allies of our physical and mental health, they are characteristics that reflect the spiritual health of humankind and this planet; what we call peace.

Thanks to the help, support, and encouragement of many friends, scientists, clowns, clinicians, and other laughter lovers, we have done a good job of understanding and promoting the health and happiness ideals of our mission, evolving to be referred to as tools for health and well-being.

Now, let’s focus more sharply on the peace ideals of the mission.

To open a conversation on the topic, I commend to you “Cultivating Peace: Becoming a 21st-Century Peace Ambassador," by James O’Dea (Shift Books, May 10, 2012). Deepak Chopra calls this holistic approach to peace work “a brilliant manifesto that weaves science, spirituality, and social healing into a peace roadmap for us all.”

Jill Knox, RN, turned me on to the book. She is a peace activist, an advocate for healthy humor, and the current president of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor. Her vision and passion for these things will be a lasting legacy to our field. I will do what I can to help.

You would probably never expect O’Dea, who spent ten years as the Director of the Washington Office of Amnesty International, to lead off in Chapter One making a cogent and compelling case  about the importance of laughter in laying the foundation for us to work for peace. “Cultivating Peace,” he says, “begins with not taking ourselves so seriously.” He reminds us that, “a world without laughter would not be a safe or peaceful world.”

Anger and violence, he says, constantly cook up a “biochemical brew…that is toxic at every level--physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. They shut down the body’s exquisite ease, delight, and pleasure signals and replace them with hypervigilance and stress alerts.”

From that premise, he examines, explains, coaxes, cajoles, and carefully convinces us that the art and heart of peace advocacy and activism is within us our grasp. It will take some work to make it manifest but he shows the way. He calmly convinces us that we can find greater peace within ourselves, tantalizing us with the prospect of profound personal satisfactions as well as the realization of the better world we seek and often speak of. He repeatedly and realistically cautions us that the road to peace will not be smooth nor easy nor quick, but the promised  destination is possible eventually and definitely worth the trip.

A few quotes from Cultivating Peace, Chapter One:

The peace journey begins with understanding positive emotions, seeing how “truth, reconciliation, and forgiveness are essential components of collective healing strategies…”

“In time, I came to learn that too much seriousness is deadly.”

“Any kind of overbearing behavior--be it self-righteousness, bigotry, aggression, condemnation, arrogance, or finger-pointing--is an interruption of the body’s circuitry of love joy and play.”

“When we cultivate love and joyful service, we live longer, healthier, happier lives.”

“…jokes can have a way of revealing sadness, emptiness, hostility, and even viciousness. But true humor does not carry a poison pill.”

“Laughing is about the bubbling up of connection.”

Get hold of a copy of Cultivating Peace and start reading. Then, please join me in reflecting and connecting how humor and laughter are not only therapeutic allies in the sense of your physical health, but also in the healing of humankind and this planet.

If you have a favorite quote about peace, please share it with me here or on Facebook.

Click These Links to Listen to John Lennon and Leadbelly

* CLICK HERE to purchase the Study Guide and Reference Manual.