The Healing Power of Laughter + Forgiveness

Episode Summary

Lynn Himmelman restored her health after decades of painful health conditions with a powerful practice of forgiveness. Now she shares this gift, along with the Most Infectious laughter in Toronto (it’s official!) to foster healing in her clients and community. Discover how restoring our authentic connection with laughter helps to “reset” stress and inspires total wellbeing.

Episode Notes

Lynn Himmelman is a trained opera singer who now channels her breath into infectious and healing laughter. Lynn is a Life-Transformation Mentor who has awakened thousands of individuals & organizations to the powerful synergy of forgiving and laughing over the last 20 years. She supports her clients in resolving trauma, anxiety, and complicated relationship conflicts so they can move forward with freedom and joy.

In this episode we discuss: 

As a seasoned inspired laugher, Lynn Himmelman (B.Sc., B.Mus.), has been voted Toronto's Most Infectious Laugher in three Championships.  Laughter became a mainstay in her life when it played a central role in her recovery from a serious brain trauma.  That's when she realized, firsthand, through her own recovery experience, that Laughter Really IS The Best Medicine and, when combined with forgiveness, that it is a powerful pathway to deep and lasting transformation.

Lynn has appeared on various media channels including CBC National News, Global TV News, Rogers TV, Toronto Sun News, The W Network, That Channel, and most recently CTV’s show “The Social”. 

For articles, videos, and information visit: 


Episode Transcription

Susi: Welcome back. I'm so happy to have you back with us for another short and sweet conversation coming to you from the pod editorial here at podapalooza. And I am joined by Lynn Himmelman. She is a life transformation mentor has been accelerating the healing and awakening of thousands of individuals and organizations through the powerful synergy of forgiving and laughing for over two decades. She is a sought after expert in resolving trauma, anxiety and complicated relationship conflicts. As a seasoned, inspired Laugher, she has been voted Toronto's Most Infectious Laugher in three championships. It became a mainstay in her life -the laughter not the championships- when it played a central role in her recovery from a serious brain trauma.

And that's when she discovered through her own experience, that laughter really is the best medicine, and when combined with forgiveness, that a powerful pathway to deep healing and lasting transformation. Thank you, Lynn, for jumping in with me, I'm so excited to have you on the show and bring this conversation because both aspects, the power of laughter, connecting with humor.

When we, we need to just shake things up a little bit and move ourselves. But also forgiveness, which is a pretty loaded topic for a lot of people. So I'm really excited to explore the duality here and how these play together.

Lynn: Uh huh. Well, they play together beautifully, you know, and sometimes I, I like to use the analogy of a jet plane and the forgiveness and the laughter are the two wings that fly your life plane.

Susi: I love it and get it, get some good amount of lift under those two.

Lynn: Yeah, exactly. And when you know, you've got the laughter, but yeah, you have left out the forgiveness piece. It's not a, it's not a smooth flight and the other way around too, if you're just laughing, laughing, laugh. I already told that one.

Okay. You're forgiving. But you still kind of staying on that kind of, um, plane where you don't really let yourself expand. And does that joyful expression that again, there's something missing.

Susi: Yes. And so I'd love to hear a little bit about your path of discovery, how you made these connections, had these insights, but then recognized how we can actually develop these tools or cultivate this better for ourselves.

Lynn: Well, it all evolved out of my own life journey. And, I actually started off as an opera singer. I was developing my career there and, uh, at some point. Uh, my physical body started to shut down and, and things weren't working at all. I had some really serious degenerative conditions going on and I had no idea at that point in time that it was at all related to things from my past.

Um, and I would say I went around in circles for about two and a half decades.

Susi: Wow.

Lynn: Looking for answers and, uh, yeah, it was a tough slog. And then I had the, when I was in my mid forties, I, uh, came across something that actually embraces forgiveness in a whole different context than we normally understand forgiveness.

Okay. So we tend to come at forgiveness from a cognitive perspective. And this particular way of forgiving was very tapped into using my own body, finding out how to use my own body as the laboratory and the indicator of what I had been hanging on to, and didn't even know about, consciously, right. So through this really awesome process, I was able to tap into unresolved anger, unresolved guilt and grief.

I had a lot of grief that I was carrying about some really serious loss that I went through when I was a teenager. So here I was, not even knowing that I needed to address that. Plus another series of losses that had occurred in my twenties, and that it was that it was that interrupted of my ability to be full on, both feet in the center of my life, in a very kind of living, breathing effervescent way.

I was working hard at life. And who would'a thunk, who would have thunk that just facing myself literally, in a mirror- there's more to it than that, but facing myself through my own eyes, the eyes being the windows to the soul- that I could access levels of memory and, and so on of things that were holding me down and holding me back and to, wow, let it go in a very way that was very graceful and easy. Like nothing I had ever experienced before. And it all just came from agreeing with the decision to forgive and letting it be understood from a perspective that lives in the heart. Not the head. And it was transformational. It was magical. And it was just purely miraculous because it all happened within a matter of weeks

Susi: after decades,

Lynn: after decades

Susi: of trying to think and solve and learn and all of that.

It's so fascinating how it's true. We really have become disconnected from recognizing what fields. How things land in our bodies. Somatic therapy is so powerful, and not anything that I'm an expert in, but when I sit with my physical experience of things, it's light bulb moments, right? It's, it's really seeing connections that I've been sitting there waiting for us to open the door and explore. We spend all this time up here, and we're not, we're not asking questions. And we are so heart driven. So wow, how powerful. And then suddenly after all of this time searching for answers, there's ease to this process. I love it.

Lynn: Yeah. It just, it was remarkable. I honestly, my friends noticed the shift in me before I noticed it in myself.

Susi: I love

Lynn: it.

It was awesome. Awesome. Awesome. And, and what's even more awesome. I got to meet the person who, who had developed it. I got to learn it and I've been able to gift that forward to people now for 25 years. And it is just so remarkable to witness again and again and again, and again, the same story unfolding for others that unfolded for me.

Susi: Mmm, beautiful. And so, like I said, I think forgiveness is really loaded topic. Um, sometimes we think we have to keep learning the lessons again, so we won't repeat them. Sometimes we think we're letting someone off the hook if we forgive them and,

Lynn: Well, you know what? That is the biggest, that's the biggest obstacle right there.

Sorry for jumping in, but that's the one.

Susi: It's all of this thinking, right? Oh, no, I shouldn't forgive that. I can't forgive that. It's all of this mental process. How do you help people start to let go of that? I shouldn't, I can't,

Lynn: It's built into the process. It's built into the process so somebody can actually come into a space with me.

And be in that place of resistance. It doesn't matter. As long as you know, even in the face of your resistance, you want to find your way through it and beyond it, it will happen. The magic will happen. And if you don't want, don't come see me.

You want to stay angry? You know, like if, if you're truly, truly married to that idea that somehow is going to carry you through. I'm not here to try and convince you otherwise just, you know, it's like, if it's your time, if it resonates and you want that kind of help then, it's there. It is there.

Susi: Yeah. And I think that is something, you know, once we get to that point where, okay, we're, we're done holding onto this, carrying this with us, letting this story define who we are,

Lynn: And the other part of this is you're so exhausted with repeating the story. The story that you, the one that's the most obvious to you-

here's the thing, the story that's the most obvious to you, the one that you keep rehashing and telling and analyzing and analyzing and asking why, and was it this, and was it related to this? I was the analysis queen, by the way, you know, paralysis by analysis.

I had no trouble getting into the, you know, the headiness of it and a whole lot of trouble, really just allowing myself to drop into this presence here and now. This presence here and now is where all that we are asking for in our lives lives. I'm not going to find it anywhere else. You're not going to find it in the past, not going to find it in the future.

Okay. So that's another issue, you know, for some it's holding onto the past, that's holding them away from just pure health and happiness. Okay. The gift is there. It's just waiting, waiting to pour in. Or the other line is all the fears and worries about the future because either way, you're not here now.

So this way of forgiving where you're face-to-face with yourself in a mirror, plus there's all this other lovely stuff where there's Meridian pathways being opened up. There's, you know, a clean, clean line of communication between your conscious and your unconscious. You can access stuff that you have forgotten, you know, people remember names and places and experiences that they haven't thought of.

Like I had an experience where I had a lifelong, uh, from age 18 to age 45, I was debilitated by an allergy to cold and wet. Guess what?

Susi: In Toronto, that's kind of a problem.

Lynn: Guess what? That got solved by forgiveness.

Yeah. I mean, I, all those years I was allergic to rain, snow, fog, cold water, couldn't drink cold water, you know? What did it take? It took couple of hours with someone who led me through that special way of forgiving, and boom. Allergy gone. You know, there is a relationship between how things play out in your body physically and what we're hanging on to up here.

Susi: Yes. Yes. And I love where we can go and what we can discover about ourselves and just about people, the fascinating way that we are wired and put together, when we can observe that. And, and as you mentioned, you know, this, isn't the kind of thing that's easy to do for ourselves.

Lynn: No, it's trying to, see you know, like if there's something on your back, there. You know, you can

try and see if you can.. No,

Susi: No, let's just make shorter work of this and call in some support when we need it.

Lynn: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Susi: And I'd love to then explore the, the transition or correlation, as you said, you know, the wings of the plane with laughter. How does that play with forgiveness?

Obviously, I think obviously, perhaps not to everyone, but when we start letting things go, we can start feeling light enough to find humor in situations where we would not have before.

Lynn: That's right. We can, we can. Here's the thing, the way that I, uh, the way that I approached laughter, and I didn't know, it took a few years, you know, like it was like 1997 where I came out of that depressed place that I was in through this special technique.

It's called new decision therapy, if anybody wants to know. And I had that time from 1997 til 2004, where yeah, I was feeling lighter, people notice the difference. I smiled more, it's still quite contained. It's quite contained. And I wasn't really laughing a whole lot. I was experiencing that lightness on the inside, but it wasn't really getting expressed well enough out here.

So getting into this way of approaching laughter in a very out of the box fashion, it's actually well-matched to my previous career as an opera singer because it's vocal, it's vocal expression. Right? So I was already familiar with vocal expression, which is like just open the mouth and sing. And this is just all about open the mouth and laugh.


The thing that weird people out is this: you're laughing about nothing. Okay. You already know how to sit in front of a comedy show and laugh. You already know how to, you know, laugh at all kinds of things, you know, like a comedian, uh, somebody's humorous joke, but do you know how, and can you call it up on cue?

Anytime, anywhere. Doesn't need your pocket book in order for it to happen, just to start to laugh. It's awesome. There's actually scientific studies that have shown your body does not know the difference between when you fake a laugh and when you do what you think is an authentic and real laugh connected to something that you heard or saw. Okay.

Susi: Ooh, juicy. And just in case anybody else, isn't up to speed on the benefits of laughter. I'm sure you've got them better in hand than I do, but I believe it boosts your immunity. It, it helps us live longer. I mean,

Lynn: totally. Yes ma'am,

Susi: And it's a great lung exercise.

Lynn: And so much more, so much more

Susi: Yeah, so what are some of the, what are some of the highlights?

Because some people are like, well, it's immature. I have to be professional. I have to be serious. I'm trying to get big work done.

Lynn: That was the hurdle I needed to cross because you know, that whole kind of persona of being a professional opera singer, you know, you got a certain image to maintain and just like

So I had to break through a lot of barriers, you know, beyond the barriers I'd already broken through with the forgiving, there were other barriers around self-image like how other people were going to see me. There were still some, you know, a little nuggets of concern about, you know, whether somebody else was gonna judge me.

Yes. One of the things that is really awesome about laughing about nothing is that it, it spins you back to the true, authentic place of your relationship with laughter before you were connecting it to jokes and humor, because we started laughing when we didn't even know how to walk or talk.

Susi: Right. Right. I just got to, in my mind that image of babies, I just love those videos of babies, laughing hysterically from the silliest thing, this little thing, and going and going and going.

Lynn: Cause they're just there. They're just there in that state of joyful discovery of the movement of energy. You know, they see objects, they see color, they see movement and they're just responding to like the, the actual sort of experiencing it. And we lose that after a while. Yeah. We lose that.

And so this way of laughing that I'm focused on, is about laughing from the inside out, because for the most part, we are keeping our relationship with laughter pretty small, because we're only, uh, associating with things from outside of ourselves to get the inside, to feel better.

Susi: That's like happiness. We think happiness is out there. We can't find it. We can't find it. We keep looking and looking (out there). Yeah.

Lynn: It's in laughter is in there too. It's not out here. Yeah. It's, it's in! I mean, it's part of your whole program. It's why you came in with.

Susi: We're getting back to our roots.

Lynn: And here's the other thing. Here's the other thing that a lot of people don't realize. Okay, yes, laughing helps to, like, depressurize things. When you're feeling a lot of stress, you know, when you feel that kind of (gasp) you know, you can't breathe well and it's all sitting high in your chest and none of you can relax.

You're caught in the fight and flight. When you laugh, it is triggering, um, movement in the diaphragm, it's connecting to your vagal nervous system. It's getting you into the, I mean the big vagal nerve, right. And it's helping you reset so that now you are in your parasympathetic nervous system, it's a really kind of fast switch into (sigh).

We can actually let your breath down, drop down deeper, coming straight from the belly, you know, like they talk about a good belly laugh. Yes.

Susi: And I'm feeling that sigh that comes after you've really indulged in a good belly laugh when you're trying to catch your breath. Like there's that big sigh. That's definitely one of those key indicators you've moved back into that parasympathetic state. That's beautiful.

Lynn: Yeah. You know, some people, they will, you know, when they're feeling nervous or stressed, they'll just kind of randomly laugh and then they feel embarrassed that it's happened. I don't know why I'm laughing. Well, it is actually the body's natural kick-in response to stress to dumb it down.

It gets programmed out of us when we're quite young, that it's inappropriate. Exactly. You know, just think, like I have the scene of, you know, okay, kids. You know, they're just entering school, they're getting disciplined into, staying still in their seats and listening to the lesson and so on.

And maybe they're not getting something, they're not fully understanding and they're starting to feel stressed and they may just start to laugh. And the teacher's going, Johnny, what are you laughing about? You know, Johnny okay, into the corner. This is no laughing matter, right. Without really understanding that that laughter is coming from a place of stress over something that they don't yet understand. Okay.

And so it, and gradually- and parents do it too, not realizing they, they actually, Hmm. You know? Okay. So maybe Sally or Johnny or Henry did something they shouldn't have done, but they're just still in learning mode, okay. They start to laugh about it again, because they can see that deep concern on the, on the, you know, the adult's face.

Oh no, I'm in trouble, but I don't know why, you know, and they'll just start to laugh out of nervousness. It's not out of disrespect. Right. And eventually that, that mechanism where we just laugh away the stress, we get so disconnected from it that we actually judge it when it happens.

Susi: Well, and the little connection that I'm putting together is those experiences where we feel judged or wrong for laughing, then leads to experiences that we store up in our body.

And we don't even recognize we're carrying around with us. I feel like that's moving us back into the forgiveness.

Lynn: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. It all intertwines.

Susi: We need both wings on the plane.

Lynn: And you know what, when you get it. Okay. So I'll just mention this off the, uh, the top here, because it's coming to mind now.

Just for your listeners that I, I have every second Tuesday, this free event, it's just called a Stress Interrupter, where we just get together on zoom screen and I lead you through some, I call it adult nursery school.

I give you some techniques for. Letting it out, just laughing. We're all being silly with each other. So there's nothing to judge because we're all doing it together. And at the end, it's, it's always, always the same. Everybody feels the sense of calm. Like they've just come out of this amazing deep meditation.

Susi: I love it.

Lynn: Muscles are more relaxed. The mind has slowed down and there's this sense of just being present. We're just there, like, sometimes people don't want to leave when it's over. They just kind of like hanging, don't really have a whole lot to say, they're just kind of enjoying, hanging together.

Susi: It's a laugh spa.

Lynn: It's a laugh spa. I love that. Yes.

Susi: Oh, thank you. Yes. I'm so glad that, um, that you host these events, but for sharing that with our audience. Thank you for that. And, um, we'll have your information in the show notes too. So folks can connect with you and learn more about this, which I've just dubbed laugh spa, but your name for it.

Lynn: Oh, uh, for the stress interrupter, if you want to find the link to that easily, you just go laughinglynn.com and it'll take you straight to that page. Or you look up my name on eventbright.

Susi: All right.

Lynn: Because it's listed there too.

Susi: Oh, beautiful. Because it's zoom is a digital world. We can join you and laugh and relax from wherever we are.

Lynn: Yeah.

Susi: This has been such a treat. Lynn, thank you so much for joining me. I'm so glad that we got matched up in the podatorium.

Lynn: Indeed. I would have been sad if we hadn't, because you were like, it just seems so obvious that we needed to meet.

Susi: It's true. It's true. We've been running parallel circuits. Marvelous.

And thank you again for sharing what you do, for doing what you do. We definitely need more mess in the world permission granted, right?

Lynn: Yes.

Susi: Beautiful. Take good care of yourself and enjoy the rest of your day.

Lynn: You too. Thanks.