Wellness Without Borders

Wellness Without Borders is located in northeastern Connecticut.

We offer flexible hours and are open Monday through Saturday by appointment.

Classes and seminars in the Healing Arts are scheduled throughout the year.

Essiac Tea is available at our Office. It can be picked up or mailed. Call to order.

To contact the Healing Arts Center, please phone us or send a message to mary.healingarts@gmail.com.

Humor

HOLY LAUGHTER*

The Serious Humor of Albert Schatz
Who Believes "A laugh a day, keeps insanity away."

by Mary Brewster

"It's … a pity we can't go to market and buy … a big chunk of … humor just as … we buy a package of yeast. They [both] do about the same kind of job; yeast gives lightness, pleasant texture and taste to bread; … humor works to lighten the heavy seriousness of our daily living, and smooths out the rough spots in our communication with each other." (One at a Time in Al-Anon. Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. New York City. 1989) The Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter will publish some of Albert's massage humor because humor can be both spiritual and healing.

Albert is a world-famous scientist as well as a humorist and a humorologist. (A humorologist is someone who studies humor, just as a biologist studies biology.) He became interested in humor in religion, especially humor in the Bible, when he learned that "wit … "has been studied … as a special expression of the spirituality of man." (Creativity. The Magic Synthesis by Silvano Arieti (Basic Books, New York. 1976). He then read Salvation by Laughter. A Study of Religion and the Sense of Humor by Dudley Zuver (Harper & Brothers. New York. 1933), and Holy Laughter. Essays on Religion in the Cosmic Perspective by M. Conrad Hyers. (The Seabury Press. New York. 1969).

Albert became interested in how laughter contributes to good health when he heard someone describe laughter as internal massage because hearty laughter manipulates a person's internal organs. One hundred years ago, J. H. Kellogg, M.D., listed 10 procedures for Massage of the Liver. The last procedure was a "laughing exercise consisting of the syllable 'ha' uttered in an explosive way, and up and down the scale."(The Art of Massage. Its Physiological Effects and Therapeutic Applications. Modern Medicine Publishing Company. Battle Creek. Michigan. 1895).

The healing ability of laughter was also recently pointed out by Andrew Weil, M.D., in his latest book Spontaneous Healing. How to Discover and Enhance Your Body's Ability to Maintain and Heal Itself (Alfred A. Knopf. New York. 1995) "When I can get patients to laugh," he wrote, I feel that the curses are dispelled." The curses, which he calls "a kind of medical 'hexing'", are doctors' comments to their patients such as

"They said I'd be dead in six months… They told me it would only get worse… They told me I would just have to live with it… They said there was nothing more they could do for me." Weil believes, these "statements are particularly disturbing, because they reflect deep pessimism about the human potential for healing. At its most extreme, this attitude constitutes a kind of medical 'hexing' that I find unconscionable." He considers this "so-called voodoo death " to be "the ultimate example of a negative placebo effect."

For several years, Albert was a stand-up comic when he lectured at scientific and other meetings where serious matters, such as cancer, were being seriously discussed. He is therefore an artist whose medium is humor. Artists see the world differently than most of us do. Albert's humor reveals that he has a different kind of vision. It also tells us a lot more. It tells us who he is, that he knows who he is, and that he likes who he is. That's why, when he shares his humor, he shares himself. His humor also shows that he respects people because he never makes fun of anyone. Finally, his humor reveals that he enjoys life and wants others to enjoy life also. Because he enjoys his humor, he laughs with people. He is not a straight-face comedian.

When the participants at one of his Therapeutic Touch workshops decided to evaluate his humor, they drew up the following questions: How is Albert's humor unique? How is his humor an important component of how he teaches? How do you react to his humor; what does it mean to you and how does it affect you? How does it help you learn? What have you learned from his humor? What spiritual aspects does his humor have? How do you relate to one another when you all laugh together? Does shared laughter help bring you all together? Does the family who laughs together stay together? How does your humor compare to Albert's humor?

Finally, I want to point out that humor and healthy laughter are not necessarily related to tickling. When someone tickles your fancy, he does not touch you physically, but you laugh if what that person says is humorous. However, tickling by touching may be pernicious. One certainly does not enjoy being tickled to death. Douglas Graham, M.D., pointed that out forty-three years ago in his book Manaul Therapeutics. A Treatise on Massage. Its History, Mode of Application and Effects. (J. B. Lippincott Company. Philadelphia. 1902):

"Dr. T. Lauder Brunton tells us that one of the most painful experiences of his life was that of being tickled to death by a nurse when he was a small boy. He can never forget the agony of it. This lead him to believe the statement that Simon de Montfort, during the persecution of the Albigeneses, put several of them to death by tickling the soles of their feet with a feather. The neurons may have become so tightly interlocked that they could not let go. Perhaps something of the same kind occurs in tetanus."

*Reprinted from the Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter. 1(3):3-4.1995.