Practicing SMILE-UPs℠ In The World . . . A Biopsy Story
Updated: Apr 23
I was on my way to a #breast biopsy, #stressed, nervous and frankly, scared. I was lost, #running late and flustered. Amidst my #anxiety, I heard my Laughter Yoga teacher’s voice in my head: “It really works. You can do #SMILE-UPs℠ at any time and at any place. I promise that even if you feel you are forcing a smile, the smile will still cause those feel-good hormones, endorphins. And you will instantly feel less stressed, maybe even happy. You don’t have to believe me; just do it. SMILE-UPs℠ are like doing #pushups, but with your mouth. You just smile, then let it go, smile, let it go and smile again. You do it ten times in a row, like counting to ten when you are angry, before saying anything you’ll regret later.” I was a bit skeptical that these SMILE-UPs℠ would do me any good. With nothing to lose, I plastered a smile on my face along with all my cynicism and doubt.
“I promise that even if you feel you are forcing a smile, the smile will still cause those feel-good hormones, endorphins. And you will instantly feel less stressed, maybe even happy.”
Through gritted teeth I continued to do my SMILE-UPs℠. I increased my intensity as I circled the parking lot desperately looking for a spot. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I looked and felt silly and foolish, but I was feeling a bit lighter, so I kept forcing smiles, and imagining endorphins coursing through my body. I didn’t really expect it to work, but Sarah had assured us: “Sometimes when you smile, without even trying, it can become a laugh, and the body doesn’t know the difference between a real or fake laugh.” I smiled and smiled, hoping she was right, as I started to feel my anxiety lift.
Sigh. I walked from the parking lot into the building. My thoughts were racing. I have a busy life. I hope this biopsy is nothing. This little appointment itself is taking way too much time in my life. I told myself to breathe, slow down, stay calm. The reassurances were fake, too, and there was no promise that these intentional fake messages would be greeted warmly by my body…so I switched back to Smile-UPs℠. Finally, I let out a little chuckle at the absurd picture I must be creating: harsh forced, fake smiles, over and over…I saw the humor and a serious giggle escaped my throat. There it was, a real tiny laugh; it was that funny sensation, so unrecognizable a minute ago as I was so clearly feeling tension. Apparently the smiles were releasing something… a #giggle escaped. I had to admit, I didn’t feel nearly as badly as I had felt five minutes earlier
Where in the world did that voice come from? Who was the person speaking out of my mouth?
As the doctor walked in, followed by the nurse, things started happening all at once. She was saying hello, starting to get set up, putting anti-bacterial sanitizer on her hands…and out of my mouth I heard myself say, “I bet you haven’t had time to do any SMILE-UPs℠ since your last procedure.” Where in the world did that voice come from? Who was the person speaking out of my mouth? In the parking lot I’d been a curmudgeon. It was important to me that I not be just another procedure. I like to feel important and I wanted the doctor’s full attention. Maybe I thought if I could make it a special, uplifting experience that would somehow impact my results. All I know is that in a moment, I had all three women in the room - doctor, nurse, and radiology tech, doing SMILE-UPs℠ together - laughing, sharing and getting relaxed. I shared some fun facts about Laughter Yoga; told them the history of SMILE-UPs℠, the many nerve endings we have in our hands, the VALUE of endorphins, and how clapping spreads the energy from the endorphins created by the SMILE-UPs℠. It turned my hospital procedure into a magical moment - at least for me. I had made a huge difference for three people and hoped they would share it.
It was like special girl time...and then we did the procedure…all questions
cheerfully answered. Well, no matter the results, this had been an uplifting and memorable experience. I hoped they’d be talking about me over their dinner tables with their loved ones and doing SMILE-UPs℠ together. My inner child was reborn that day…she snuck out with those SMILE-UPs℠, despite my attempts to keep her hidden. She continues to surprise me.
Thank G-d the biopsy was benign, and the laughter is still spreading!
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