Friday, September 9, 2011

Laughing all the way

Local therapist wants to play with your inner child

Express Staff Writer

Psychologist and author Alexandra Delis-Abrams practices what she preaches. Having studied under Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga International, a global movement for health, joy and world peace, she’s taking “playshops” on the road to help people change their attitudes for good health.

After decades as a psychologist, Alexandra Delis-Abrams has come to the conclusion that with two key things, a person is capable of great joy and resilience that once eluded him or her. They are laughter and service.

"No matter how much prosperity we have, there is no contentment unless we are in service," she said. "People whose life is about service are happier. They are living more in their hearts, and that is where the joy and laughter live."

To be of service with this knowledge, Delis-Abrams has launched Wholistic Health Playshops, the second of which will be held Tuesday, Sept. 13, and Wednesday, Sept. 14, at the Light on the Mountains Spiritual Center. The playshops are free, and whatever donations are garnered will be given to The Hunger Coalition and Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley.

She will guide guests through a series of songs, yoga and meditation designed to "tenderly" lead people through their heads to their hearts and help them define who they are and determine if they are living their happiest version of life for themselves.

"I use laughter, joy and enthusiasm as a healing modality," she said.

Delis-Abrams said she began her own search for happiness 40 years ago after finding that even though she was satisfied with "living the American dream," she wasn't complete. She found her way to the Self Realization Institute near her home in Malibu, Calif., and began her journey.

She calls herself a "stretch" rather than a "shrink" in her counseling practice in Sun Valley, where she has become known as the "Attitude Doc" for helping clients and workshop attendees explore the blueprint of their lives and implement personal change for growth and happiness. She authored a book called "Attitudes, Beliefs and Choices" and got trained by Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of Laughter Yoga International, a global movement for health, joy and world peace, and is certified to impart those lessons to clients.

But it is this latest machination of her search occurred to her during a drive to Boise, when she decided to create "playshops" and take them on the road to reach as many people as possible with the message.

Her first event was held in August along the East Fork of the Salmon River. Casey Zarnes came from her Balanced Equine Wellness practice in Mountain Home to attend the event after hearing about it from a mutual friend, Dr. Heather Mack, who has experienced Delis-Abrams' techniques and included the workshop as part of her Sacred Partnership Camp.

"I felt like I could use some guidance in coming to terms with aspects of my past and navigating through my current life transitions," Zarnes said. "I took away a broadened and deeper understanding of how my past has influenced by present life. I came away unafraid to acknowledge and accept things that have held me back over the years. I learned that this is the only true way to get past our hindrances and move forward. It was a very dynamic experience."

Stacey Owens, a resident of California and executive producer of Nearby Socket Entertainment, said she came at the process with skepticism, but "Alexandra touched on issues that I knew I had, but ones I also didn't know that I had. She did indeed inspire change in me. I left with simple and effective tools in order to make those changes."

"It's a loaded day each day," Delis-Abrams said. "I guide people and then they decide that if they don't want to go there, that's fine. But many people have changed their lives for the better."

Jennifer Liebrum:

Wholistic Health Playshop

When: Tuesday, Sept. 13, and Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 5-9 p.m.

Where: Light on the Mountains Spiritual Center, south of Ketchum.

How: To register and get information, call 720-5875

Donate: No fee for playshops, but donations will be passed on to the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley and The Hunger Coalition.

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