Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Learn, Laugh and Let Go: A Comic Stress Management Program

Learn, Laugh and Let Go: A Comic Stress Management Program

Robert Rivest, Mime

Wednesday 1:15-2:30

What can I say about a presentation on learning to relax and staying focused? How important is it to have a good sense of humor, especially in a library? I don’t need to tell my colleagues how important these traits are, especially after our library closed last October. Our library staff has been doing a great job coping with the transition from having a library to having . . . an office. I think they have a pretty good sense of humor and, thankfully, they like to eat. I got to thinking about stress relief and the importance of laughing and learning to let go. Robert Rivest offers his silent counsel—he’s a mime!—for keeping cool in rough times. Just breathe! Really, Robert says to relax. Miming is a series of tension and release. Mime is full of illusion. There are things that look relaxing, but there is an underlying tension. Alternatively, there are miming examples that look full of tension, like miming a weight lifter, when in fact it is full of relaxation. The essence is that there is stress in our lives, but like the tension in miming, there need to be releasers.

Most of the time the things we say to ourselves are so negative, anticipating a worst-case scenario, that even our body language communicates negativity. Robert advises us to relax our shoulders and open our hands. When we uncross our arms and open our hands, we are more likely to be open to others and their ideas. Robert gives us examples for dealing with trials in everyday life. He says it is about finding openings, finding energy to “cope”. Robert advises us to try changing what we do little by little. Practice subtle changes. Take longer to eat your lunch, adjust your posture in front of your computer. Opening those pathways help us to open our lives. Our breathing will become easier, our movement less labored, and our focus even greater. Try breathing by counting. Breathe in and count to four, then breathe out and count to six. Do this a couple of times and we will feel a little more relaxed and focused. After a series of mimes in which Robert did small, but hilarious skits, he invited the audience on stage with him to try breathing exercises that he uses for miming. The element of laughter is linked to breathing and release. Coupled together, laughing and meditation are an unbeatable one-two punch.

Robert has invited us outside onto the beach for a series of breathing/stretching exercises. Better go . . .

I hope to enact these traits at our next library meeting! Robert’s techniques for de-stressing, not escaping to the beach. Be ready!

I leave you with a couple of good quotes on laughing I hope will guide you:

Laughter is the corrective force which prevents us from becoming cranks. –Henri Bergson

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter. –e.e. cummings

Check out Robert’s website for more:

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