Breathing is necessary. Duh. But do you fully use your breath or do you take it for granted?
Yesterday I visited a dear friend, who by the way made the whimsical face planter with the word “breathe” pictured above. We met each other in a loving embrace. As we held each other, my friend slowly took a deep breath in and exhaled just as mindfully. I breathed along side her these deep cleansing breaths as we continued hugging. My eyes were closed and I consentrated on the fullness of our breathing. It was very healing, energizing and extremly loving.
It got me thinking about the act of “just breathing”.
Breathing is, of course, essential to life. But how often do you simply sit with your breath? Close your eyes and pay attention to it. How are you breathing? Is it shallow and quick? Slow, deep and intentional? Can you take a full deep breath? Or do feel like you are always searching for a deep enough one?
Growing up I had asthma. Most of the time I was okay. However, when an attack happened it was like trying to breathe out of a coffee stir straw…it gives me anxiety thinking about it now. I would use my inhaler and sit or lay on my back as calmly as I could and consentrate on my breathing until it reached, what felt as close to normal as possible. I was fortunate that my episodes were short and I eventually grew out of it.
As a young person, no one really taught me how to breathe or gave me guidelines as to what “normal breathing” should really look and feel like. Probably because as humans, our bodies automatically (in most cases) do the work for us. However, as an adult, I have been awakened to the magic of breathing. And the importance of sitting with your breath.
Did you know that breathing a certain way can warm your body up or cool it down? It can help you run better. Sleep better. Take away anxiety. You can breathe into your muscels and help them to relax, stretch, grow. Breathing can wake you up or settle you down for a restful sleep. And so much more.
Paying attention to your breath or mindfully breathing, will force you into a state of the now. This is a great way to be present.
My favorite way to mindfully breathe is to find a comfortable position. It can be sitting, standing or even lying down. The important part is that I am comfortable enough to be still for the next 5-10 minutes. Closing my eyes, I take a few minutes to scan my body. Starting with my toes, I think about them. This brings awareness to them. I don’t make adjustments or judgements. I am simply aware of my toes. Then I think about my feet, my ankles, my lower legs, knees, upper leg, hips, abs, back, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, and head. I may even break down my head observation into smaller parts, depending on the time and how observant I need to be.
Eventually (1-3 min later), I begin focussing on my breath. My eyes are closed and all my attention is on me. My breath. I slowly inhale. Filling my lungs, I can feel my stomach raise and my chest expand. I pay attention to my shoulders. Are they tense or relaxed? If tense, I lower them as best as I can and use a sinking breath to relax them. (A sinking breath is where your exhale is a little longer than the inhale.)
Sometimes my mind wanders. This takes me out of a present state…until I recognize my thoughts. Without judgement, I simply change my thoughts back to my breath and voila…back to the present moment!
From this state I can move into meditation , sleep, or yoga. Or i can simply go on with my day more relaxed.
So as you all go about your Adventurous Friday, remember to take time throughout your day to simply breathe! Your body, mind and soul will rejoice!!
Love and hugs, Mel