Month: August 2016

How are you breathing?

BreathingInstead of “how are you feeling or doing”, what about asking, “how are you breathing?”

It might be an unusual greeting, but if answered sincerely, you would get more information on how that person is actually feeling.

Our breathing is one of the chief gauges to how we are feeling; all it requires is paying attention to the rhythm of our breath.

If your breath is choppy as you are holding your breath, it reflects the stress you might be under or if it is slow and barely perceptible you might be struggling to take a deep breath in because you are lacking in energy.

I have been in both places, depending on the circumstances in my life. I am aware that I hold my breath in when I am at the start of speaking to group, the exhale gets stuck in my throat. My words come out squeaky and shaky.

Or if I sit at the computer and respond to an email, write a piece or get a burst of excitement from a Facebook post, I am aware I hold my breath, even for a millisecond.

And there are those times when I am exhausted, when I can barely summon the energy to inhale, when I do, it is shallow and barely visible.

Or if depressed, inhaling takes too much of an effort.

Compulsive sighing and yawning often means your body is not getting enough oxygen; the body’s mechanisms to draw oxygen in.

Why is this information about breathing so important?

Because our physical and mental health depends on a regular pattern of breathing!

Just about every adult has irregular breathing patterns due to fast paced lifestyles and living in the future and past.

Babies and children breathe steadily and smoothly deep into their bellies, their world is in the here and now, while adults are focused on the future.

When your head is the future or the past, the breathing reveals whatever you are thinking, a worrying or sad thought, an exciting or scary future plan, pondering a mistake having made.

When present your breath takes on a different shape, it magically smoothens and deepens, it is difficult to be anxious when you are fully present.

Conscious breathing is the act of being aware of your breath, this brings you into the present moment very much like being caught in a time machine. Press the Breathe button and you are hurled into the Now.

Children do not need to pay attention to their breath as their breathing has not yet been altered by life’s stresses.

Let us look at the affect breathing has on the physical body.

Imagine how our cells of our body must feel, as they wait in anticipation for a fresh supply of oxygen that comes sporadically.

How do you think your cells feel when they are working like Trojans to renew, replenish and divide requiring one of the principle elements, oxygen, and it comes intermittently?

Our breathing is not on most of our radar’s unless we have a cold or a chronic breathing condition. It is when breathing becomes challenging our attention is drawn to our breath; sometimes by then it is too late.

Our lungs suffer as well, as does the diaphragm.

The lungs spend much of their days being underused; the majority of us only use the top front part of our lungs when breathing. Which means our primary respiratory muscle, the diaphragm atrophies, making it impossible to take deep breaths.

To free up the diaphragm deep breaths is the remedy, like a child.

The physical body is not the only casualty of irregular breathing patterns, the emotional body is equally affected.

Emotions and mental chatter are amplified when the breathing is irregular, triggering anxious states.

It is only when the breath is smooth and even, the mind and emotions are released from the strains of stress.

Telltale signs that your breathing is irregular:

If you are doing all the talking while conversing with your friend.

If you are sitting in front of computer for much of the day.

If you are eating while you are doing something else.

If you are looking at your phone incessantly.

If you are thinking too much.

If you’re chronically tired or stressed.

If you are rushing from one event to another.

While modern lifestyles can be considered the culprit, the habits we learned from childhood play a role as well.

Habitual breathing patterns are learned; we were born with the capacity to breathe deeply and regularly, however due to the strains of life our breathing patterns adapt by constricting the areas around the lungs, rib cage, and bellies due to underuse.

If you don’t use it, you will lose it.

Recipe: Deepening your breath.

Take deep breaths regularly and frequently.

Breaths, which fill and empty your lungs entirely.

Breaths, where you can feel your rib cage and bellies expand and contract.

Breaths where the inhale and exhale are even.

Breathe consciously as often and regularly as possible, finding moments through out your day to take 4 deep breaths.

Every time:

You get behind the wheel of your car, before you turn the key.

You wake up before you get out of bed.

You sit down to start your work.

You sit down to eat your meals.

Make this your priority, you body and emotional wellbeing will thank you.

Ask yourself’ “how am I breathing?”

The answer will be the clue to how you are feeling.

Look up or look down

Look up or look down

Look up or look down: that is the quest

Should I be present or look ahead at the future?

When faced with life’s challenges, when is it best to keep your head down, taking one step at a time, or look up and see where you are headed?

When to look up or look down:

 

Look down

Look down when you are at the starting point of a long climb up a mountain, only to look ahead to keep an eye on the path.

Look down when you have lost a loved one and are consumed by sadness, when it feels there is no end in sight to your grief.  Take each day one at a time.

Look down when what appears to be an insurmountable task, such as shoveling a long drive after a blizzard or the cleaning of a house after a party. Looking up only exacerbates the exhaustion of the task.

Look down when recovering from an addiction; take one-day-at-a-time, to look ahead at a life without that thing is too daunting in early recovery.

Look down if your days have become dull, take each day separately, and be careful to look towards weekend or holidays for a respite, as you will miss the hidden jewels amidst the monotony.

Look down if your moods are tired, anxious and depressed, there is no need to try and push these moods away, looking ahead will only intensify the power of them, they too will pass.

Look down if you are unsure of what your future will look like; allow your future to unfold gradually.

 

Look up

Look up when running a sprint and can see the finish line in the distance, look at where you need to be to win the race.

Look up as you approach the end of a long arduous feat; see how far you have left and how close you are to achieving it.

Look up when you are in the planning stage of something, look at what it is you are striving for; look at the cake finished, the business successful, the book complete, the wedding dance, the baby sleeping, then look down to start creating.

Look up when motivation and focus is waning, look at where it is you want to be, as your energy restores you can get back on track.

There is no right or wrong way to cope with life’s challenges; it is a personal choice.

Looking ahead and taking things a step at a time depends on what the situation is and you knowing what is best for you.

By being in tune with your emotions and body, you will know deep within which choice to make.

So to look up or down, depends on you.

If you are tired and overwhelmed, or your challenge appears too big or ambiguous, like a loss of someone, or you have no idea of what the future will look like? These are times for looking down.

If it is obvious what you want, you can taste and see it within a short distance, then look up, keep looking up until you get it.

If you have a goal you wish to achieve, you may look up to maintain your momentum, but then look down, as there will be steps along the way. This is the time when both strategies are beneficial.

 

In answering the question, should I look up or look down?

As quoted by William Shakespeare:

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Do what feels right for you at that moment in time, not what you are being told to do, or what you think what you should be doing.

It is your life, your challenge and your decision.

That is the answer!

Patience please

patience pleaseI so desperately want to be a patient person.

‘Patience please” is written on a sticky attached to the edge of my computer as a reminder, to be patient.

Whenever it catches my eye, I automatically take a deep breath, and repeat the words.

‘Patience please’

I find it easier to be patient when you know what you are being patient about, something that is tangible, such as, waiting for a response following a job interview, or an article to be published or a meal in the oven.

I have gotten good at being patient during those times.

It is the times when I have no plan; there is no structure to what I am being patient about.

It is the unknowns, the days when you look ahead and you not sure what you are working towards.

I can be patient when I know that I had done my best and have to wait and see.

I can be patient even though the outcome may not be my what I want.

Patience when there are clear outcomes is manageable.

It is the not knowing, waiting for the universe to answer, to tell you what to do or where to go next.

These are the times when patience wears thin.

These are the times you have to dig deep within you to remind yourself to be patient, even if you have no idea what you are being patient for.

I suppose these times can be called lulls, when life becomes stagnant or feels as if there is no movement.

When you are unsure what is underneath the sludge, could it be a lotus flower waiting to emerge? Or nothing or just the green plankton that floats on the surface.

Patience is not easy during these times.

I often lose focus and wonder what I should be doing to make that not knowing thing happen.

During those times I take a peek at the yellow sticky, to remind myself to be patient.

Again take a deep breath and wait, then I become annoyed and edgy, riddled with impatience.

Screaming in my head “I have to know!”

I remind myself again and again, “patience please”.

Patience is about endurance, tolerance and serenity. I know how it feels when I am genuinely patient, not pretending be.

When I am impatient I sense my blood pressure rising, little remarks irk me and it is all too easy to lash out at the ones’ you love.

What good is being impatient if all it does is arouse negative feelings?

I am back again, this time holding my sticky note between my fingers, staring at it with grit determination, repeating the words,

“Patience Please”

 

Recipe: Patience

Write on a sticky note a phrase or a word that will serve as a reminder.

It needs to be in place you spend a good deal of your time.

When you find you are becoming engulfed with impatience, take a deep breath and repeat that phrase to yourself.

This will bring you back to the present moment where you can put things in perspective.

Be patient.

The power of awe

The power of awe

The power of awe

Awestruck

Awesome

Awe-inspiring

Awe

Words that hold the secret to our happiness, health and harmony with others.

Intriguing, you might say.

How can an emotion such as awe, have such a powerful affect on the most important areas of a person’s life?

Children experience awe multiple times a day, for adults only 2 ½ times a week.

Yes, a week, not a day, or an hour, but a week!

In other words, adults are awe-deficient.

You have heard of being vitamin, nutritional and mineral deficient, though what is awe-deficiency?

It simply means a shortage of awe experiences.

Experiences that take you from the dullness of everyday life, opens your eyes to something greater than yourself and shifts your perspective, even if only for a moment.

Awe experiences, from the eyes of children are moments of wonder, curiosity, amazement, laughter, freedom, lightness, presence and love.

Love for what is, what is in their visual path, what is touched, a kiss, a hug, a pretty stone, a leaping frog, a tiny ant, a yellow dandelion, the waves as they caress the sand, the shell they tenderly place in their pail, the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven and the taste of the melted chocolate tickling their taste buds.

Awe can be modest, or massive as when looking at the night sky, experiencing awe when we notice how small we really are amongst the billions of galaxies.

When in awe our heart swells, it sends blood rushing to cells and to organs, it signals your feel good hormones to come out of hiding.

Your body becomes tingly; goose bumps appear on the surface of your skin, creating a shiver up your spine.

When in awe, you feel like you are not alone, you belong and want to share the awe with others.

Awe connects all of us, as we look towards the setting of the sun or across the vastness from a mountaintop, or listen together a concerto in a grand hall.

Awe creates a space beyond the stresses of daily life and catapults us into a realm of beauty and breathlessness.

When in awe we are happy, our body relaxes and love flourishes.

As with any other deficiency, when you know you need more of something you will replenish what is lacking by taking a daily vitamin or eating foods steeped with minerals.

In the same way with awe-deficiency, increase your intake of awe moments, and you will be happier, healthier and in harmony with others.

All you need is a daily dose of awe.

 

Recipe: Increasing your awe moments

First thing is to be present; if you are distracted awe moments are impossible to notice.

Once present, take a deep breath through your nose and look or close your eyes and listen, feel, taste, and smell.

What is happening now, not past memories or future dreams?

The ocean, a flower, a sunset, music, a child’s laughter, being kissed and caressed, tasting a sweet fruit, the wind on your cheeks, the sun on your face, the smell of lavender or lemon.

It can be anything; awe moments are your moments.

Once you experience these moments, breathe deeply again and allow the your body to absorb the emotion of awe.

Once a day, don’t search or expect one these moments, allow them to come to you.

They come only if you are present and available.

Embrace your awe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RJMindbody

RJMindbody