Breath. Have you ever noticed how as soon as you hear or read that word your attention wanders to your own inhales and exhales? Reading this you notice your breath, is it quick, is it steady, have you been holding it in, have you been breathing deeply?
Breath is one of the few processes of the body that is both automated and can be consciously altered. Generally people can’t think their heart into beating faster or slower, their stomachs into digesting, their kidneys into filtering. Yet, breathing happens when you are not thinking about it AND can be changed when you are. Physiologically breath is crucial, it oxygenates the blood, which then brings the oxygen to perfuse all the organs and tissues in the body. Taking the time for daily deep breathing is not only an exercise of meditation for the sake of calming the mind, it is also an activity that feeds all the organs and tissues in the body with the oxygen they desperately need. Lindlar who I mention in my blog on “Healthy Thoughts” describes the flow of oxygenated blood with beautiful imagery as “fanning the fires of life into brighter flame all along its course.”
Here are 3 simple ways of bringing intentional breath into your ever day routines.
The Pause: At various points during the day pause and take three deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling as long as you can with out straining, evenly and smoothly. This exercise is great because it does not take much time only about 30 seconds. It can be done at random, or its calming effects can be used to shift your perspective during a stressful situation.
Conscious Walking Breath: During the day there are many moments when you walk from point A to point B. This walk could be of any length. When you walk bring awareness to your breath. Start by just noticing how it is that you breathe, with out trying to change it. After you have established a practice of bringing consciousness to your breath, begin playing with it. Deepen you breath, or make it more shallow, notice the feelings that changing your breath brings forth.
Night Time Breathing: In bed and on your way to sleep, bring awareness to your inhales and exhales. Breath evenly and deeply, and with every breath envision yourself relaxing, feel your body let go of the day. As thoughts come up, bring yourself back to focusing on your breath in and your breath out.
Now I would love to share with you a poem that came to me after incorporating conscious breathing into my life.
Take a deep breath in, and notice how it flows through your body
Playfully teasing and tickling your very insides on its way down to your heart
To say that breath is inanimate would be to speak a lie
An inhale does not resemble the exhale that follows it
Much like snowflakes not two breaths are alike
With each breath I breathe the world into myself
Taking in the knowledge of those who are no longer and those yet to be
The breath, she flows out of me a changed being
Carrying with her my hopes, desires, sorrows, pleasures
Carrying with him a little bit of the essence that is myself
Yet he does not take anything from me
By leaving she does not make me less than what I was before
She just opens the space for whatever is to come next
In that moment between breaths, the possibilities are endless