Breathing to Let Go

This quote stood out for me today: “Sometimes you don’t realize the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release.”

 

When you find yourself tense, overwhelmed or feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Take a moment to sit comfortably and simply notice your breath.

Every inhale brings in new life, nourishment and energy.

Every exhale is a release and letting go.

Our breath reflects the ebb and flow of life itself.

Do you notice that there is a slight pause at the end on the inhale as you hold onto the air? This holding on creates more tension in our body and it feels so good to release some of it with this simple exercise:

Take a nice big inhale and then sigh on the exhale. Really focus on the noise you can make when you breath out! Make it loud and long. The biggest and best sigh in the world.

Next, If this feels good, bring your shoulders up to your ears on your inhale and then release them away from your ears on the exhale.

You may want to bring in some shoulder rolls now. Inhale raising your shoulder up and then exhale releasing forwards. (3 times) Then inhale raising them up and exhale releasing them backwards (3 times).

As the energy moves, can you feel the shift? A lightening. As you practice this can you feel the burden releasing?

Namaste

 

Haiku – shallow world

~

Take time for deep breaths
Leave the shallow world behind
Find your Middle Ground

~

Finding your Middle Ground is about taking time to pause and step away from this overactive, overstimulated and overwhelming age we live in.

The more we are caught up with the pull of our smartphones and media updates, the more difficult it is to step away.

Bringing awareness to our breathing is a simple way to connect to our bodies and allow our minds to disconnect and slow down.

Now is always a good time to breathe more deeply.

… and turn your phone off.

Let this be a positive step towards finding peace within.

 

 

Breathe Well and Live Well

Breathe well and you will find your Middle Ground.

I love to breathe! Its what attracted me to yoga and keeps me passionate about how yoga and mindfulness can transform us.
Without breathing fully, a yoga practice becomes simply a workout. Rather than calming the mind and soothing the body it can have the opposite affect. This is not yoga.

The content here is to help bring awareness to how you breathe. Its the foundation for mindful breathing to alleviate stress, reduce anxiety and to live a full and healthy life.

breath awarenessIt begins with becoming aware of your breath:

  • STEP ONE – OBSERVING

Take a few moments to prepare yourself. Sit comfortably. Relax.

Begin by simply observing your breath. Get your own natural baseline.

Place one hand on your belly and the other above your heart.

Notice the rise and fall as you breathe in and out.

Let the wave of breath flow down to below your navel.

Feel that long slow wave of breath.

Now placing both hands just below the navel. Breathe as if your breath can reach your palms.

Notice how this fills the whole body with breath.

Let your belly expand as your lungs fill with air.

Soften your body so it can open to receive the air

Let the sensation of the breath move like waves. Find your own natural rhythm and pace.

Bring attention to your belly. Imagine as you inhale, your belly is like a balloon. With each inhale it fills up with air. Use your diaphragm to expand the belly outwards creating space for the air coming in.

On the exhale allow your belly to come back towards the spine.

This is full yoga breathing.

Notice – without any judgment – if this is easy for you or somewhat difficult.

  • STEP TWO – EQUAL LENGTH

Lightly bring equal length to your inhales and exhales. Silently count in your mind to ensure they are equal length.

Imagine waves coming to the shore ebbing and flowing.

Moving on to the next step in a natural smooth way

  • STEP THREE – SLOW DOWN

See if you can slow down and expand the length of both inhales and exhales. Making the waves longer let them flow more slowly.

Find the length that is expansive and opening. If you sense any struggle you have gone too far.

Don’t try, just step into this new space, accepting that what is good enough for your body is good enough for you.

In your mind count a number that feels long and strong for each exhale and inhale.

Let yourself be in the space at the end of the exhale without grasping on the intake.

man deep relaxed breathing

  • STEP FOUR – EXPAND EXHALE

When you are ready you might want to expand your exhale making it longer than your inhale. See if you can make it twice as long.

As you release the tension in your body, allow the tension of your mind to also release with each long exhale.

Let the waves of breath flow through you.

Let the prana and life force flow through your entire body.

Come back to your natural breath and notice how you feel after this experience of mindful expansive breathing.

Mind is Like a Kite

The theme that is emerging in my posts right now is about quietening the mind and finding peace there. When I am feeling challenged I will search through earlier posts to remind myself of the wisdom that I have shared … and to bring it home again. Enjoy this metaphor… and come back to your breath. You are in control of your kite.

oooO000

I love this metaphor for seeing our breath as the string of our kite.

girl flying kite

“The mind is like a kite, flying here and there,

and the breath is like the string of the kite, generally bringing the mind back into the present moment.

The breath brings the mind, which is all over the place, back to its source, a natural state of peacefulness and joy.”

Ravi Shankar

* The Four Keys to Being Present

This is second part of the article Being Present at Work. In this post I’d like to share the 4 keys to help you become more present.

smiling woman at work

1. Break the Habit of Multitasking

When we multitask, no one person or activity gets our attention, and in small and large ways, our relationships with others can suffer. Here are some practices to commit to:

  1. Give full attention when someone comes into the office or you answer the phone:
  • Stop what you are doing and turn your body towards the person. Smile and breathe.
  • Decide whether this is a good time to talk or schedule for later.
  • Commit to making human contact with this person 😊
  1. Focus in when you have an important task to do:
  • Set time aside to commit to this task and eliminate all distractions – people interruptions, email, phone etc.
  • Relax your body and stretch. Take a couple of deep breaths to center yourself. Focus on the task at hand.

2. Check in With Yourself – feel your feet and breathe

Taking time to pause and check in with yourself during the day is invaluable in being present at work. Some people use a phone app with programed alerts, while others plan short break at certain times or when doing certain tasks. It only takes a moment to pause. (When we remember!)

When we think and worry too much we are in our head. When we notice this its time to ask “Am I present?” “What’s going on with my breath?” “Is there tension in my body?”

– Sit comfortably with your back straight. Feel your feet firmly planted on the ground. Feeling the nerves in the soles of your feet will keep you grounded.

– Take a full diaphragmatic breath. Place your hand on your belly and feel your belly expanding with each inhale and coming back to the spine with each exhale. Under stress or exertion we tend to breath from our chest. Full diaphragmatic breaths calm the vagus nerve and the fight or flight response.

You cannot avoid being in the present if you concentrate on your breath.

content man meditating3. Change your Perspective – transform your inner critic

Recognize that the inner critic is a distinct voice that is not you. It’s usually a combination of voices from the past. These negative beliefs come from fear and will sabotage us – especially when we step out of our comfort zone or are stressed. Recognize the voice and verbalize it. Look beyond the voice and find a bigger place to come from. For example:

– Think of a time in your life when you overcame fear and accomplished something important to you. Feel that personal pride.

– Think of someone who gives you love and support. Keep that person in mind and recall how they treated you.

– Laugh at yourself. Humor always helps diminish the critic. Lighten up its only the inner critic!

– Focus on your goal and intention – the outcome you want to achieve and the feeling you want to feel when you’ve achieved it!

– Focus on others instead of yourself. Who is there who would appreciate your support right now?

– Do something pleasurable because our inner critic hates pleasure and wants to keep us feeling miserable.

4. Let Thoughts go – experience the experience

Something powerful can happen when we accept our fear and embrace it – it diminishes! As Carl Jung said, “What we resist will persist”, and that is true for the fear in our head. Don’t be afraid to focus on the fear or feeling. By accepting it for what it is, we can free ourselves from the reaction in our minds.

An additional step is to focus on the sensations in the body, rather than the thoughts or judgements. Feel that flutter in the stomach, the dry mouth and the sweaty palms. Breathe through it and observe your body calming.
Experience the experience.

 

 

Inspiration – It is Enough

Kripalu sunset

It is enough right now
to taste one moment of
peace. Of course I want
more, but at least the
door is open.

It is enough to draw a
conscious breath and
let my hands relax,
fingers releasing their
tight grasp on things
outside of my control.

It is enough to shed a
layer of stress as if
taking off a jacket or a
pair of too tight shoes.

Ease of being has to
start somewhere.
This breath is my
first step.

~ Danna Faulds. Taken from From Root to Bloom

This is a lovely reminder that ease of being begins with a conscious breath. Just one moment of peace opens the door.

Don’t rush it.

Breathe into it

Be with it

It is enough

💛

* Haiku – breathing

breath in mystery

~

Breath in mystery

Breath out self doubt and judgments

Find this ebb and flow

~

If you are new to this site, welcome!

To read more about finding your middle ground, please click here.

 

* Pondering – accepting what is

I woke up this morning pondering how it is so hard to accept what is. Our brains say – yes I get it. We may even bring it into mindful awareness every day through meditation or yoga.

We think we have it handled, and then … out of the blue we find ourselves getting impatient, frustrated or triggered.

For example, think of the last time you were driving and were cut off by someone else. Or you were running late and got stopped behind a school bus or a red light? What thoughts, sensations and feelings came up?

road rage

So how can we handle these turbulent emotions and accept what is….

In the moment we become aware of our reactions we have a choice: to allow the fight or flight  reaction to take over with its rush of adrenaline and cortisol; or to center ourselves with full deep breaths and consciously let go of the stories, judgments, and resistance to what is happening.

With mindfulness practice, our reactivity gets less and less.  Our acceptance of the highs and lows of life grows and we become more centered and less volatile.

Like a pendulum we find our way to the center.

From a scientific perspective, the more we meditate and calm our mind, the more neural pathways we create and reinforce our ability to come more quickly to a calm state.

It is a practice…. that may take a long time if not a life time.

The Dalai Lama says that while we cannot stop an emotion from arising, we have the power to let it go, and the highly trained mind can let it go the moment it arises.

writing  on water

The Buddha shared a metaphor for this state of mind. He called it “like writing on water”. Whenever an unwholesome thought or emotion arises in an enlightened mind, it is like writing on water. The moment it is written it disappears.

Through meditation and mindfulness practice we learn to master our reactions and center ourselves.

We re-balance ourselves and in doing so, learn to accept what is.

The next time you are in traffic be ready to breathe deeply and let the emotion flow through you…

And don’t get upset with yourself for getting upset! Let it go.  Just keep practicing coming into the present moment.

Namaste

 

* Breathe from your Middle Ground

I am recovering from a lingering cold which has zapped the energy for several days. Today I’m finally breathing better and feeling more like my self again. It makes me appreciate my ability to breathe even more!

I’ve written before about how our breath is connected with our wellbeing and emotional state. Noticing how we are breathing is a tool that we can use to monitor how we are doing.

There is an other pause that comes with our breath which is also revealing. The pause at the end of the exhale before we take in more air. When we are distracted, stressed or in an anxious state, there is no pause. We don’t trust we have enough air  and we don’t allow ourself to relax and let go.

Just take a moment to tune into how you are breathing right now. Just notice without judgment.

Breathe and relax

Pausing at the end of an exhale can only happen when we are relaxed and in tune with our mind and body. When our body and mind are aligned in the present moment.

This is what I do to check in with myself. Its a great yardstick on my level of relaxation to life in that moment.

Are you rushing in the air and holding on before letting go? Gasping in!

Are you afraid to let go on the exhale? Holding on!

Or are you aware of a special silent space. This is when you realize that there is no rush… Where you can rest in this pause that takes you past the fear of not enough to the realization that there is more than enough. This is often a place of struggle … which can be transformed to a place of peace and inner expansion.

Its impossible to try to do it. It requires being relaxed and open to let it happen.

To become relaxed, take several full diaphragmatic breaths. Breath in through your nose and let yourself release with a sigh on the exhale.

Keep breathing deeply.

Allow your shoulders to relax. Allow your belly to soften.

Release effort and allow your body to absorb the energy and nourishment.

Notice any tension and imagine sending your breath there to let it release and flow.

Imagine you are softening your whole body and mind … almost like melting.

Now see if you can allow yourself to pause and rest at the end of the exhale… without any effort whatsoever.

Just for a moment, be with this stillness and spaciousness. Trust that it is always within you.

Namaste

 

* Breathing to Let Go

letting go

Every inhale brings in new life, nourishment and energy.

Every exhale is a release and letting go.

Our breath reflects the ebb and flow of life itself.

This quote stood out for me today:

“Sometimes you don’t realize the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release.”

When you find yourself tense, overwhelmed or feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Take a moment and connect with your breath.

Do you notice that there is a slight pause at the end on the inhale as you hold onto the air? This holding on creates more tension in our body and it feels so good to release some of it in this simple exercise:

Take a nice big inhale and then sigh on the exhale. Really focus on the noise you can make when you breath out! Make it loud and long. The biggest and best sigh in the world.

Next, If this feels good, bring your shoulders up to your ears on your inhale and then release them down your back on the exhale.

You may want to bring in some shoulder rolls now. Inhale raising your shoulder up and then exhale releasing forwards. (3 times) Then inhale raising them up and exhale releasing them backwards (3 times).

The weight of the world is being lifted off your shoulders. As you practice this can you feel the burden releasing?

Namaste

 

* Your Breath is How you Live your Life

Do you know how are you breathing right now?

Take a moment and simply notice your breath. Perhaps place your hand on your navel and the other above your heart.  Notice the movement as you inhale and exhale.

breath awareness

We breathe in and we breathe out. And for the most part we take it completely for granted.
Until something happens such as asthma, a cold, allergies or worse. When we notice it is difficult to breathe we appreciate it so much more.

How we breathe is not only a reflection of the health of our lungs, but also a reflection on how we live our life.

Did you know that our breath is connected to our emotional state?

When we feel:

Panic – It is short, fast, shallow breaths. Trying to get more air in by speeding up.

Anxious – It is shallow breaths seeking more reassuring air.

Tense – We hold onto the inhaled air, pausing at the top of the inhale before we let it be released, sometimes with a sigh.

Anger – It is long forced inhales and exhales. Fueling the flames like a bellows.

Calm – It is slow and steady breaths becoming shallower with relaxation.

Happy – It is long inhalations and long exhalations. Slowing it all down.

Did you also know we can change our emotional state by changing our breath? We can bring mindful awareness to our breath and create the emotional state that we seek.

Practitioners of Meditation and Yoga have done this for millennia – using awareness of the breath to come into the present moment, and bring about a more relaxed and centered state of being.

Science shows that when we slow the breath it signals to the brain and the parasympathetic nervous system that everything is well. No need to be on guard … its okay to relax and restore your natural balance.

So if we want to alleviate stress and become calm, slowing the breath works!

Try counting between 4 to 6 in your mind for each inhale and exhale. It can really make a difference. Why not set aside a few minutes and try it for yourself. It may feel awkward and take some practice but your body, mind and emotions will thank you for it.

Bringing awareness to our breathing is such a valuable guide to how we live our lives in that moment. With awareness of this comes choice. Please click here to explore more about your breath.

If you want to live your life fully then practice breathing fully.

Namaste

Breathe Well and Be Well

There is something so well known in the yoga world that we often take it for granted. To the world outside of yoga, it can be a revelation.

deep breathingThe ancient yogis knew the power of our breath and the energy behind it for calming us, energizing us, opening up spaciousness in us and healing ourselves physically and emotionally. They also believed that if we slowed down our breath we would live longer….

There is now research being done in Europe as to the power of our breath for healing and reducing anxiety and depression. The hope is to prove that breathing therapy is a cheaper and healthier alternative to drugs. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? For us yes! For the Pharmaceutical companies, not so good!

pranayama breathingYoga breathing is called Pranayama.

Prana means life force. We bring Prana into our body through our breathing, as well as our senses. Ayama means expansion, while yama means control.
So Pranayama is the expansion of the life force in our body through regulating our breath.

As we deepen and harmonize our breathing we also slow it down, which in turn calms down the autonomic nervous system and our stress response.

There are different Pranayama practices that can bring about altered physical, mental, and emotional states. Some of them are quite energetic and transformational and take years of practice. Caution is advised when trying to do the advanced practices.

I think because of this risk, many of the calming and soothing practices, which are completely safe, may have been overlooked.

breathe

I’m happy to share some simple breathing awareness exercises on the main pages. Please click here to begin your exploration of your breath.

My hope is that it will begin to transform how you breath, and how you feel.

It starts with tuning into your own breath. Getting a base line of how you breathe, and then gradually deepening it and slowing it down.

Aahh…. now that feels so good…. and does a body good!