Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Yawning eases learning and sleeping and heals past boredom and physical hurt

I know why we yawn.

Some say that yawns are deep breaths to increase oxygen to the brain. In medical school, I learned that’s incorrect. When we yawn, breathing stops and blood oxygen levels fall (!) slightly (say 2%), which is inconsequential.

Rather, yawning belongs to the same category as crying for a loss, trembling or blushing from fear, laughter or talking because of stress, etc. These are outward signs of very sophisticated brain recoveries. That’s why typically, we feel better after them and bad when we stop them.

Specifically, tears heal sadness or adjust you to loss or disappointment, trembling heals fears, laughter and blushing heal light fears, and yawning heals boredom,* the most painful feeling of all.

Yawns heal boredom * from similar situations in the past, just like tears heal old sadness.* An idea that may make it easier to keep yawning for total clean up is to repeat saying: “Everything now is interesting.” *

Now, no one knows HOW this all works. People who say they do, don’t. We see the results reported here but that’s all that’s known about them for decades already ( But it works and we can use this helpful, practical information notwithstanding the enigmas. Here are some other effects of yawning:

  • Yawns, like laughter and tears, are often ‘contagious.’ Yawning out-loud signals: it’s safe here and now to let go. Did you manage to read this without yawning?
  • Yawning also helps us integrate totally new thoughts or ideas. Any good teacher is pleased when some students yawn, and some even fall asleep in class. You can’t learn much while you’re too tense to yawn or sleep.
  • Yawns may help a person sleep. Often, babies in a new surrounding who need to sleep, look around, yawn once, and are in dreamland already.” When the day is over, we start to relax. And we yawn. It’s hard to yawn when you’re still worried or making any effort.* The opposite works too. In order to dose off quickly: yawn.* But people that expect you to make an effort will be annoyed when you yawn.* It shows that you think: I’m done.
  • Yawning, specifically, besides emotional healing, heals physical processes that hinder and make medical healing go slower in grownups than in babies. If a doctor gave you some poison (anesthetics), you will yawn, which shows that you’re busy neutralizing it. Yawning then often comes after first shedding emotional discharge (fears, loss, shame, etc.).

Most of the above, I learned from my late teacher and friend Harvey Jackins. Yet, he did not have a chance to discover everything about yawns. Statements followed by an * are about things I discovered after his death.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX among the over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon, and search: "zuiden, XXX". * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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