As humans, we are required to breathe each and every day. Just like the plants, we need oxygen, food and water. Unfortunately, we can’t make our food from sunlight.
But breathing. We have control over this one. Lately, I’ve managed the practice of breathing on purpose. Now, if you don’t breathe on purpose, your body will supply oxygen and do your autopilot breathing for you, otherwise well…we wouldn’t be here right now, would we?
Breathe and Listen
Our bodies actually take good care of us. If we listened to our bodies, we would all probably be in wonderful shape, both physically and mentally. Still, some days, life takes over and pushes us over the edge. Those are the days we might catch ourselves and remind ourselves to breathe. Take three deep breaths, you say, and you can handle any situation. Calm yourself. Collect yourself. Recharge.
Whether it’s in the form of autopilot breathing or the intentional de-stressor, breathing is our friend. When we breathe on purpose, we are training our body to initiate this kind of deeper breathing all on its own, the kind of breathing you ask yourself to do when you feel stress or anxiety.
Only with my recent introduction to yin yoga have I been able to breathe on purpose and to make a connection between mind, body, and my environment. I’m a novice, but I feel it’s really made a difference in my life with only a couple of months of practice.
Let’s try some breathing
Here are some things I’ve learned:
Get comfortable: Lay down on your back or relax in a sitting position; dim the lights, and if you like, play some soothing music (check out the sample video). Feel the earth under yourself, no matter where you are.
Ocean breath: Close your eyes, start with an inhale from the belly and an exhale out the mouth with an ocean breath, as if you might fog up a window, but it doesn’t need to be as forceful as that. The inhale should come from a deeper place than your autopilot breathing. Let it fill your chest.
Breath In/Out the Nose: Resume more relaxed breathing in and out the nose; relax the jaw. Feel the space between your neck and shoulders. If you need a release, try an ocean breath.
Let the thoughts float away: You mind will race. Let the thoughts come and go. Think of them as leaves floating away. I have a visual for you below.
Focus on your breath: Don’t worry if you lose your breathing. Just bring it back and resume the ocean breath.
Environment: If you mind is racing, check in with your environment. This helps you to be aware of your present moment. What noises do you hear? Do you feel the air over your skin? Make note of it and bring back your breath.
A specific focus: Sometimes a focus on something specific can be the breathing. Can you hear your heartbeat? Check in. You can also do some internal chanting: An “Ah” on your inhale and an “Om” on the exhale. Whatever sounds you choose.
Try a specific length of time: Try breathing for the length of a song and increase it as you like.
The most important thing is to relax. This is time for you.
Let the thoughts float away:
Breathing on purpose has given me that clarity of focus not unlike those matrix-like moments when the action slows and you can focus on the separate parts from the whole. That clarity of focus is you listening to your body.
Tune in next week when I will talk about how this listening to your body can help improve how you listen to the people in your life.
Here’s some soothing music from Garth Stevenson: