Photo by Max Van Den Oetelaar on Unsplash
Three weeks without food.
Three days without water.
Three minutes without air.
And what do we take most for granted?
Today I invite you to be aware.
This moment I invite you to be aware.
If you are able to, pause. Close your eyes for a few beats and feel the air coming into and out of your nostrils. Feel the expansion of your body as the good air fills it, the contraction as the spent air leaves.
Are your shoulders rising? Is your belly expanding? Notice your breathing.
Put your hand on your belly. For real. Play along with me. This could be life-changing.
Allow your in breath to push your hand out. Allow your belly to fill. A good deep breath. Not the shallow fish-gasping that raises the shoulders and that many of us spend much of our day getting by on.
Belly breathing is anti-aging. Belly breathing is weight-balancing. Belly breathing reduces blood pressure. Supports liver detoxification.
Sometimes I cannot get to belly breathing. Sometimes I am trapped in chest-and-shoulder breathing. Sometimes my anxiety keeps me in the shallow end of breathing. And that’s a double-edged sword for sure.
Belly breathing reduces anxiety.
But first I’ve got to get there, haven’t I?
So I turn to visualisation. I close my eyes and place myself on the rocky outcropping on which I once perched off the side of Hawk Mountain in Kempton, PA. I feel the sun as it was the day I was there. I hear the sounds. I sense the roughness of the rock underneath me. I imagine the bobbing heads of the people I had run ahead of as they catch up to me.
My anxiety lifts enough to allow me into the deep end.
Which allows my diaphragm full expression. Which allows my liver full expansion. Which allows everything to be massaged in my abdomen and relaxed. The body which I inhabit is safe. There is room for healing.
When we breathe with our bellies we activate our vagus nerve. One of the best things we can do to live in optimal health. The vagus nerve is literally the connection between the gut and the brain. It is our safety nerve. It is essential to both our survival and our thriving.
And we can stimulate it with our most mundane, every-three-minutes-or-die, favourite-thing-to-take-for-granted activity.
Breathing. Such a simple thing. Such a profoundly simple thing that we forget about it only all the time.
Well, I do anyway.
So I am making a new commitment. A commitment to mindfully breathing at several points throughout every day. Building my mindful breathing muscle as I would work out any muscle. Gradually and regularly. Slowly and surely.
I’ve set alerts on my phone to remind me to Pause. To breathe. And, if I need to, to ground myself in my happy place first.
Moments. It takes mere moments.
I am worth that. My optimal health. My longevity in ease. Is worth that.
Pause. Breathe. Expand.
I am one with the universe. Connecting. Connecting with all beings on the planet.
Will you join me in these Pause, Breathe, Expand moments?
If you cannot get to the deep end easily does visualisation support you? Will imagining yourself in a happy place get you there?
If not, how about this: with your eyes closed gently, so gently, rub your hands together. Feel the lightness of fingertip on fingertip. Palm on palm. Allow this focus to calm your whole body. Allow this technique to walk you from the shallow end to the deep. Where you can breathe.
The motion I describe stimulates the part of the brain which governs wisdom and is based on the research of Shirzad Chamine. When we activate the wise part of our brain we step away from our survival brain and teach ourselves it’s safe to live in calm.
And that’s where creativity thrives. Where relationships blossom. Where healing on all levels explodes.
And that’s where I’m headed. The deep end. As often as I can. At least as often as my alerts remind me and more frequently as I build up the muscles.
Are you curious about working with me to get you to your optimal health? Me too! Please feel free to schedule a complementary action call to see how I might support you.