A Lesson about Commitment: Laughter Zen Playshop Experiment at Melbourne Law School

Let my commitment be the cause of my life, not the effect of my life.”

This is the new understanding I gained about ‘commitment’ after having recently finished running six weekly Laughter Zen Playshops (experimenting synthesizing laughter yoga, imaginative play and creative meditation as a new way to counter-stress and promote well-being) at Melbourne Law School.

I feel grateful to have had this opportunity, because this is the very place where I started my journey searching for ways to deal with stress, anxiety and negative self-talks. As a former law student, I know how demanding it is to study a law degree, especially in a highly competitive school like Melbourne Law. Understandably I was worried that no one would turn up.

The day before I started the Six-Week programme, in my morning meditation I made a commitment to myself: "I will run the session even if only one student comes, and I will stay the entire session time, even if no one comes or I will just laugh and meditate by myself".

There I was at 12:50pm on a Monday, waiting in Room 605 of the Melbourne Law School building, overlooking the familiar Lincoln Square. My mind was overwhelmed with anxious thoughts: "What if no one comes?” “What if laughter yoga and play are too ‘silly’ and not serious enough for law students?” “Oh dear, what will my law professors think of me?”

Then I drifted into the memories of all those years ago when I was a law student in this building: highly stressed, as younger “I” found it challenging to comprehend the language of law in English, which is not my native tongue. I was constantly worried because I felt that I was not doing enough, not smart enough or not good enough.  Looking back, I wish I knew earlier that the most important gift I can give myself is self-care and self-acceptance. I wish I knew better that instead of getting more frustrated with stress, I could respond to them in a more positive way. I wish I was not SO serious with study, work and life in general. 

Back in Room 605, I gently closed my eyes and took a deep breath - "remember your commitment? Even if no one comes, you will be here for the entire time.” For the first time, my commitments are genuinely for me, instead of being conditioned upon my perceptions of others' judgement and acceptance.

A. Do I make sure that everyone thinks Laughter Zen Playshop is a great idea and everyone likes it first as a proof of its worth and value, then I commit?

Or

B. Do I commit fully to it and give my best effort, without needing to make it perfect right from the start and without needing to please everyone as the basis of my own commitment?

This time, I took a risk and chose Option B, because Option A has never really worked for me anyway. Guess what? Every week, I had at least ONE student that came to laugh, play and meditate with me in Room 605. Lucky that at least I did not have to laugh with thin air by myself (which would also be quite fun, I guess?!) Whilst I hoped that more students would have joined me, whoever was meant to be there came. If I could help one student, then I already have fulfilled the purpose of my Laughter Zen experiment at Melbourne Law.

When I received the beautiful testimonial from one of the participants, I was very touched. I know that my commitment was much more than worthwhile, and now I am even more committed to Peace Lab and to this new path I have embarked upon. 

"Laughter yoga is like nothing I have done before and it is brilliant. After trying many different methods to ease my anxiety I attended Elva’s Playshop laughter yoga classes at University. I felt a little nervous at first, because it feels strange to start laughing intentionally without something funny happening. However, through Elva’s classes, I came to realise that letting go of the ‘normal’ way to behave as an adult for a short period of time and laughing at everyday life was a great way to fight fears and stressors. 

 Elva inspired me to see life from a different angle and, as a result, feel a sense of calmness, self-acceptance and gratitude. She was very understanding of the pressures of work, study and relationships and how they could cause feelings of anxiety and discontent. But she showed me, through laughter yoga, how we can change our perspectives and surpass these feelings. I am very thankful and grateful for Elva’s guidance and her passion for helping us find our inner peace. - SA, final year JD Student at Melbourne Law School "

So, what does commitment mean to you? Is it a cause or an effect of your life?

Goodbye My Childhood Dream

Welcome to my first blog piece :) - I wrote below my first ever poem (in fact still the only one to date) in March last year and it was about letting go of my childhood dream.  

It was not an easy topic to write or even ponder upon, as aren't we all meant to follow our childhood dream, instead of letting it go, right?  

Yet in my case, my childhood dream of working in international law did not become a reality.  When I left Geneva after finishing my masters degree in International Law, I was disheartened and confused with my life to say the least. 

I had to look deep within - what is the genuine dream of that young girl? What did she really desire to do? Why did she want to become a lawyer?

That was the moment I realized that my childhood dream was not so much about 'becoming a lawyer' or working in a particular field.  Rather, it was a desire to have joy and to help others.  

However, with her best intention, that younger version of me simply thought being a lawyer would be the best way to fulfill her dream of bringing joy and change to others. 

Once I became aware of the subtle yet profound difference between the substance of my dream (bringing joy and helping others) and the form of the dream (becoming a lawyer), I let go of the stubborn attachment to how my dream can be manifested.  And I became free. 

I embarked on a journey of finding a new way to fulfill the essence of my childhood dream, which resonates with who I am now, and reflects the lessons gained from all my life's experiences.

Then, here you are, Peace Lab was born. 

Maybe for some of us, letting go of an older version of the dream is not the end, but just a new beginning.  Be guided by your genuine intention, the "WHY", not the form and how that dream may come about as you may be suprised how far life can take you. 

PS: I am still working as a part time lawyer. But because of Peace Lab, I enjoy my lawyer job a lot more than before, and I am grateful for being able to use both my intellectual and intuitive brains now. 

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Goodbye My Childhood Dream

Goodbye my Childhood Dream, thank you for taking me to where I am now.

Without you, I would not have ventured so far; I used to think, in achieving you, I shall become full.

But now I know, now I know better, in the process of reaching you, I become whole.

Oh, my Childhood Dream, you are not my final destination, but my holy journey.

In pursuing you, I know my inner strength;

In following you, I know my real essence;

In embracing you, I know my true power;

Yet, in letting go of you, I can birth anew.

You laughed at me for my 'perceived' failure in not realizing you as how I expected.

You tapped on my shoulder, like a loving guardian angel, gently whispering:

"Your true dream is, through the kingdom of imagination, to be Courageous, to be Brave, to be Adventurous,

So you can Explore, Dance and Sing in this grand sojourn that we call Life.

To be Alive, to be Joyful, to be Peace and to be Love are your true childhood dream.

This is the dream bestowed upon you when you took your first breath, when you first opened your eyes to greet your parents, when you first smiled at that ray of sunshine."

Thank you - my Childhood Dream, without you, I would not be writing these words, I would not be searching for you in the clouds and in the sky, and I would not stop to simply just be.

Finally, without you, I would not have the faith to let you go;

Without you, I would not have the trust in making a new dream each and every day, living fully in the presence of life's wisdom.

Thank you my Childhood Dream, for all the experiences you have brought me;

Goodbye my Childhood Dream, it is time for a new dawn.

Every path leads to the same destination eventually - be present with who you are now!

Every path leads to the same destination eventually - be present with who you are now!