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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

Practicing Ease: Playful Retching

If you have any history of literally trying to make yourself retch, please ignore this tool. There are plenty of other ease-inducing anti-anxiety tools available.

Playful retching is just what it sounds like: open your mouth, stick out your tongue if you want, and make retching-type sounds (or just say, "bleah!") while generally pushing up and out with your diaphragm, pretending to throw up. JUST PRETENDING! Be gentle! If you want you can put your finger near your mouth, like a child might do--It's another one of those things kids seem to know how to do, almost automatically.

But don't overdo it--PLAYFUL is the key word here!

So don't strain yourself or your voice. It is designed to involve some physical activity (e.g., pushing up and out with your diaphragm, using your facial muscles) but it's supposed to be lighthearted. Even so, it can actually help you voice objections to something without getting all tensed up about it.

Do it a couple of times, then rest a bit and see how you feel. If it feels good, do it a few more times. If it doesn't, stop!

This is one of those zapchen exercises. Julie Henderson, who developed zapchen, says playful retching is helpful, "because we put up with so much. Because we stuff so much....It lets you get rid of whatever you may have [metaphorically] swallowed without wanting or meaning to....This exercise is fantastically effective even if you have simply studied too long or worked too hard."

And it can be fun, in part because you probably haven't done it since you were a kid.


This tool is based on a tool in my third anti-anxiety toolkit. Here's the Index of all toolkits. And The Mini-Toolkit: For Those with Little or No Time.

Until next time,


Photo credit:

Cat, Sergey Taran



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