How to Feel as Good as You Can In Spite of Everything
"How to feel as good as you can in spite of everything." That's the sub-title of the self-published book about zapchen by Julie Henderson: author, therapist, author, storyteller, teacher and zapchen creator. The full title is Embodying Well-Being: How to Feel as Good as You Can In Spite of Everything.
If you've been reading this blog for a while you may already know that zapchen is a collection of simple and often playful breath, sound and movement techniques, aimed at helping you feel “as good as you can in spite of everything.”
If you've tried out any of anti-anxiety tools or "ease-ments" listed below, you've done some zapchen. (There are links to descriptions on how to do each of these at the end of this post.)
Julie Henderson comes from a family of scientists and artists, and has degrees in theater, German, counseling psychology and somatics (body-oriented healing and therapy techniques). She has also studied extensively with several Tibetan Buddhist lamas. So it's not surprising that zapchen springs from a marriage of western somatic knowledge and Tibetan Buddhist wisdom.
What does the word "zapchen" mean? The "Tibetan word zapchen has a whole range of meanings: from the funny and mischievous energy of lively children, to the sometimes unpredictable behavior of very wise and compassionate teachers, to a depth of growth and change we can only begin to imagine."
And why blue-footed boobies? Many zapchen exercises are quite playful, so I chose the birds because they are (1) actively moving and (2) absurd. Plus the ridiculous name. Even the expressions on their faces seem to poke gentle fun at our tendencies to take ourselves a little too seriously, especially when it comes to spiritual and emotional growth. Julie reminds us that growth doesn't have to be difficult. That it can, in fact, even be fun.
So, do one of these exercises, then rest a little bit, noticing any gentle ripples of feeling that may move out through your body. Do a little more, then rest again. Don't do them if you don't want to. The object is to relax and enjoy, not force.
This is perhaps the most important zapchen concept of all—taking a rest after doing an exercise. This allows body and soul to assimilate the new information and, hopefully, the new state of ease. Taking a rest after learning something new is almost always a good idea. Take a nap if you can.
There is no need to make yourself do any of the zapchen techniques. Relax, have fun, let it be something that brings ease, not tension. And if you don’t want to do it, don’t! In fact, "Moaning and Groaning" is one of the exercises.
So enjoy, find some ease, be a little mischievous. Be loose. Be silly. Or not, as you choose.
Here are links to the anti-anxiety toolkits that include zapchen exercises (you may need to scroll down in any given post to find them):
hum with someone
ahhhhhh looking at the sky
Mini-toolkit Quicker descriptions of some zapchen and other tools, for those who don't have much time.
Until next time (1st Wed. in February),
Blue-footed boobies, unknown
Kids, Lora Moore Kakametris, unSplash
Puppy yawning, Daniel Lincoln, unSplash