Posts Tagged ‘stress relief’

This material is copyrighted by M. Kirby Moore. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

This post is a continuation of a descriptive piece from mid-March when I taught a class on relaxation and stress-relief to seniors. I’d recommend scrolling down and reading Part I through III to get some background info.

I want to start out by saying that I mentioned those first two Zapchen exercises only, and I want to stress this word, ONLY because we all know how to Yawn and Nap. There are some exercises which Julie Henderson came up with which inspire embodied awareness and increase potency, but if these techniques are not natural to us, then I’m not going to mention them.

In other words, there are some playful, fun techniques for coming down out of the head and resting deeper in embodied sensation and presence. Some of these exercises we learned as children, and then we have spent how many years as adults un-learning them! Well Zapchen includes a few such exercises to remind us what it is to be fully human – in touch with a light, loving heart, a potent, full pelvis and a clear, wise mind. Zapchen also includes some new techniques which we have had very little exposure to, let alone tried to do them ourselves. Maybe you could call these Zapchen Yoga, although I think it is all Zapchen Yoga.

Therefore, I am not going to mention the third exercise that we did. Oh, the suspense! Well, you will have to come see me for a session to find out. 🙂 I will skip instead to the fourth technique that we did, as this inspired the most laughs and humor anyway. So hopefully this is remotely entertaining:

The fourth exercise we did is called, “Funny Talk.” It has serious somatic effects on the body, so please, only try this at home if you have some time and patience on your hands, not to mention a talking buddy who is open and ready to let go 🙂

When we do Funny Talk, we put the tongue behind the lower teeth, touching them and then allow the tongue to fill the base of the mouth.  Yes, then you talk. It should sound funny, or at least not at all serious. Honestly, who can take themselves seriously when they are talking like this? Oh, and I should stress that there are researched, profound relaxation effects of doing this AND the exercise is by NO means a method used to mock anyone. If it is, then it is not Zapchen.

Well imagine doing this exercise with seniors, I guess who range in age from 65 to 80? Not sure about this though – they had gotten all dressed up as they wanted to look good for the class (apparently, I was told later). It was very precious. But I digress, yes, imagine doing Funny Talk with 12 seniors, the majority of whom have dentures… Here are some snippets from the class, and again, I am merely trying to be a reporter, not mocking anyone! Because one day, relatively soon, if I make it that far, I will be old too.

The woman next to me tried it and then exclaimed, “Oh my, I might push my bridge work out.”

Soon, a few seats down, a lady commented, “I would use my teeth if I had them in!”

About thirty seconds later, the retired beautician (with the hearing aids) exclaims, as if just registering the previous conversation, “I can’t push my teeth out – they are glued!”

A few minutes go by as I check in with other students, with a hushed conversation happening across the circle of chairs, and the beautician again, exclaims with a loud word amidst the whispers, “Polydent!”

We all burst out laughing, including her. I can feel parts of my skull and brain literally re-orienting as the laughter and the funny talk and the previous exercises work their “magic.” Then the lady next to me pipes up with,
“You know, this would be a great commercial for Polydent!” I could not agree more. Why hadn’t I recorded this class? 🙂

All in all, I was very happy to have gone down there to lead them. I kind of doubt they were expecting to slow down and practice this radical form of kindness… but they were happy nonetheless. I say this because I was very careful to not talk about coming back (they would have to formally invite me, especially with my not be an official teacher and all). So guess what?

The lady who has the magic touch with plants asked me first, “Will you come back and do this again?”

I asked, again just to be clear, “Is that a request?” Yes!

Oh – I had been asked earlier to keep going after the Funny Talk. One woman was just drinking in the neurological nourishment of these potent exercises and she wanted me to teach more. Nope! I responded, “I need to stick with my teachers’ advice and tell you that Less is Better than More. Please go back over the next few weeks and practice these exercises. Find one you like and stick with that one. Allow it to be fun and easy. Then I can go through some more.”

And then everyone seconded (and thirded, etc) the motion of having me come back. So I discussed it with the woman who originally scheduled me and we have set up a second day, about a month from now. I hope that goes as well or better than this class!

Some very wise words were shared amongst all of us. I learned much more than I taught for certain – don’t read a book by its cover, always be grateful for each breath you take, and value good friends and good company very dearly!

And if you happen to fall asleep in a chair, which is definitely not the norm for you, mutter “Sweet Jesus!” over and over until you feel better about the situation. 🙂

Thanks for reading.


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This material is copyrighted by M. Kirby Moore. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. Thanks for visiting.

This is a continuation of a series of posts. I would suggest you go back (down) and start at least at Part I if not Part Zero.

As I mentioned, I was teaching a group of about 13 seniors techniques to help them relax and let go of stress.

Now it was time for the first exercise. Oh! Sorry to pause right out of the gates here – I must mention that, as with some spiritual practices, Zapchen exercises should be done with a qualified and experienced teacher. I have received transmissions for many of the exercises from Janet Evergreen, a senior teacher in the Zapchen tradition, and from Julie Henderson herself (she is the founder and creator of Zapchen Somatics). Personally, I am neither an expert nor a Zapchen teacher, but I believe Zapchen Somatics to be simple techniques to free ourselves of our habitual patterns of doom and gloom, in a fun, comfortable, playful, easy way.

With that said, it may seem that some of these exercises are “too easy” to work. But when you are with a qualified teacher, similar to other spiritual traditions, the teacher can pass on a transmission of the somato-spiritual state of ease, kindness and potency in their body. If we practice self-care on a regular basis (most humans do or at least want to), then the body can quickly “remember” how to get back to a state of deep, playful relaxation, if it has gone there before. But that is the key – we can only “know” that we have gone down an appropriate path if we are led by an appropriate teacher. If we happen to stumble upon a healthy path, we may forever be full of doubt and uncertainty until we gain confirmation from someone who has been down that path with confidence and clarity.

Having mentioned that you need to receive these teachings from a qualified teacher, I must caution you to not judge these exercises if you try them after reading this, without the presence of a qualified teacher, and they “don’t work.” I know for a fact they work, because in leading this group of seniors, we all dropped into a deeper state of fun openness and I personally moved toward greater inner stillness (internal equanimity), embodied potency and playful awareness. Many of their psychological walls came tumbling down, despite the fact that this was my first time meeting any of them, and the class did not even go for 90 minutes.

With all that said, the first exercise is yawning. There are many incredible health benefits to yawning, but I held off on mentioning these until after we had all yawned five or more times. It took a while to get to five though. Just about everyone was either ashamed to force themselves to yawn, or they could not do it without having it be spontaneous and organic. Well, it seemed I needed to get them started, so I yawned in a rather vocal manner. I have been told that when I yawn like that, that it sounds almost like I am doing warm-ups for voice class. Therefore, even these seniors could not help but hear the yawn.

I should probably mention too, that there is an energetic field around us. One of the participants mentioned that we have auras (I did not want to go here on such an early class) and once it was mentioned by someone else, I ran with that. Hey, if they mention it, obviously there is a reason it is coming up. If I mention it too early though, I could lose people’s attention and possibly their trust! Anyway, I said that I believed that yawning not only has physical effects on us, but as we yawn, we relax parts of our bodies and that this effects the energetic field around us. And I said that by changing (“relaxing”) the energetic field, that is how we “cause” others around us to start yawning. You could argue it is the sight of the yawns doing it, but I would add it is also a change in the field which your body “senses.”

[As an aside, it would be a fascinating experiment to see if you blindfold people and prevent them from hearing anything, and then you have others around them start to yawn, do they do start themselves?  I’m hoping this has already been tried, but if so, I’ve not heard of it yet.]

It was mentioned that several people thought yawning meant you were bored or tired. I knew that might come up, so I talked a little about how I believe that particular cultural mores to be horribly mistaken. When someone who I know yawns around me, I consider it a compliment (they are practicing self-care) or at least I certainly don’t think they are being rude! Yawning opens the throat, palate and TMJ; it produces saliva (helping digestion); yawning lubricates the eyes and has been shown to help with maintaining a healthy balance of serotonin and melatonin, among many other benefits. Therefore we yawned as much as we were able.

Some people covered their mouths as they yawned, as the cultural beliefs tended to be deeply ingrained! But eventually, nearly everyone yawned at least five times. Then we napped. Napping, if you have not figured it out yet, is one of the most important exercises you can possibly do (yes perhaps even more beneficial than yawning). There is evidence that napping, just for five to seven minutes, is very helpful for learning, for better efficiency and brain functioning.

My only regret from this class is that not enough people lay down to nap. And by not laying down, their bodies were still holding a little bit of tension and exerting a little effort to keep them in the seated position. In other words, by not laying down, they were not capable of letting go completely. There were several of us who did lay down, and by doing so, we were not tempted to start whispering. Eventually though, some whispering started among the seated people. The discursive mind can be so distracting – when we are not used to just letting go, we tend to revert back to previous patterns, which in this case were to chat and whisper. I did hear someone start after briefly falling asleep (while seated), and the phrase, “Sweet Jesus!” was muttered several times.

So we did yawning and napping to open the class. Actually, by discussing my ground rules, and then mentioning how it was my intention to rest down just a little bit more, and to practice just a touch more kindness to yourself (and therefore to others), it took 45 minutes to get through the introduction, the yawning and the napping. Therefore, I was not wordy for the next two exercises.

I will continue this stream in the next post. It should be complete within a few days. Thanks for visiting!

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This material is copyrighted by M. Kirby Moore. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited. Thanks for reading!  You can visit Kirby’s website at to see what he offers in terms of Spiritual Astrology or Resource bodywork.

This is a continuation of a series of posts on a recent visit to some senior apartments in Nelson County, where I taught some simple exercises for well-being. By the way, I am simply describing what occurred in the most objective way possible. I do not intend to be demeaning or to make fun of anyone’s suffering. Because good Lord, we all know that there is too much of that to go around without adding to it! With that in mind, please enjoy.

So Beth was sitting opposite me in the circle of chairs. I decided to go with a circle. I believe that is Montessori style (is that right?), in that there is no way for any individual to hide. Even if they want to (or need to). Also, that way, we are all equals in a sense. There is no position known as “teacher” which has everyone else’s attention focused on it. By sitting in a “round table” form, we all can have an equal say, hopefully.

Beth was chatting with her neighbor and I was barely following her conversation, considering I was checking in with my body, attempting to relax and trying to rest in equanimity as best as I could. I should mention for the record that I learned, quite rapidly, that Beth’s condition of hearing loss was advanced.

So Beth’s neighbor, a cute little, older black woman says, holding a can of unopened Mountain Dew, “I need to hide my soda so Barbara doesn’t take it away from me.”

And of course Beth chimes in with, “Oh you hurt your shoulder? I’m sorry…”

Beth’s neighbor corrected her and Beth noticed me watching this and she blurts out, looking at me, “Just wait til you get old Cody!” It was really the tone of voice she used. So confident and direct and lacking any care about what others might think about it. I had rarely encountered it before, not in other hearing-impaired friends or really anywhere else. What was that mysterious trait about that tone? Anger? Indifference? Bitterness? It made me chuckle though as I appreciated the directness.

I zoned out for a while, at least from their conversation, as I was meeting newcomers. Soon though, Beth looks at me and makes my brain start sizzling as she produces, “Older women are so much more fun than younger women Cody! You should spend more time with older women.” Uhhhh… What did I miss?

“My name is Kirby.”

“What?” Her neighbor explained what my name was. Writing it down helped.

I was told to start, despite the fact that there would be several people arriving late. So I get started, using the skillful beginning of, “Before we get started…” to delay any tension arising. I told them all to take a deep breath and to let go of any physical tension, any emotional stress.

Then I decided to do a little warm up exercise where we would each say our name and one thing we were grateful for. This was to be one of the first of many lessons for me. I said my name and said that I was grateful for all the spring flowers blooming, in particular the forsythia. Then, nearly everyone else around the circle proceeded to thank god for having one more day to live… or for having given them breath that morning. Wow! It was like I was the ignorant leader of a powerful church.

I learned that one woman had an extremely green thumb – she said she could heal any plant. She was actually full of healing wisdom as I would find out throughout the afternoon.

Then I mentioned my guidelines. I said that it was my intention for us all to be just a little more kind to ourselves and that way, we could be a little more kind to others as a result. This would actually be a theme throughout the day.

Several people arrived late. One person, who tried to sit outside the circle but I directed her to the only chair available, right next to me, said, “I’m late.” Okay… I introduced myself and told her my only guidelines for the class – that you only do exercises that are comfortable / easy for you and that you try to have fun doing them. I said if something is uncomfortable, don’t do it, and at least object or raise your hand before forcing yourself to do something that you don’t want to. I suspected that this was a new paradigm as these seniors were kind of at the whim of their apartment manager.

Oh, Barbara introduced me, saying that I did Craniosacral Therapy and that I recently got my BA from UVa. Good… Someone asked me about Craniosacral work and for some reason, I went in the direction of the this-is-actually-a-church-meeting and answered her with, “Craniosacral work is unique in that it believes the individual has the power and the ability to heal themselves.” (So I was actually talking about Craniosacral Biodynamics here.) I continued with, “As a Craniosacral practitioner, I try to get in touch with that natural, innate healing ability of individuals, which we call the Christ-Light or the Breath of Life (which are both terms from Christianity). I try to balance that energy and make sure that it is flowing smoothly and as fully as possible. Sometimes if we get injured, or hit our heads, or due to conditioning from when we were young, or other traumatic events, we can lose touch with the Breath of Life. So I simply try to get my client back in touch with their potential to heal themselves.” Wow! Pat yourself on the back Kirby – these God-fearing seniors drank it up, although I think they did not expect it.

When someone in the audience tried to reflect back what I had just said, he did a good job. But that is when I realized I had not mentioned any of the actual scientific research and information about CST. So after he reflected about the energy coming from his heart and his spirit getting involved, which was great, I continued, “Also, in addition to everything I just mentioned about Craniosacral Therapy, if I were to take out any religious terms from my description, I could also say that Craniosacral works with the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and that science has actually shown that practitioners can palpate this subtle fluid and feel where it is stuck or where it is flowing smoothly. The CSF nourishes and lubricates the central nervous system and brain and if it is not flowing well, then issues can arise. So as a practitioner, I also work with balancing the CSF.” That may have been a bit long winded but it was good to explain it in those terms…

See my next post (Part III) for the next installment of this fantastic afternoon. Thanks for reading!

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