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Posts Tagged ‘deep breathing’

I wanted to break my latest hiatus by letting you know I’ve been thinking of you. I know I haven’t reached that many people with my words in the grand scheme of things. That said, I do believe that those whom I have touched have in turn touched the lives of others, just as I continue to share the gifts of insight and love that others have given me. We are sharing the human experience, and we can’t stop our influence from spreading beyond our reach.

It is my sincerest goal that my life bring more love, more peace, and more joy to the lives of those around me than I would have thought possible. And that, through enjoying those blessings we share, those lives then shine their light forward to illuminate the dark spaces of others. In this way, the light and love that I have received with may continue that work throughout our world.

Please, take a moment to remember something that is special to you, that warms your heart. Remember a thought, an experience, a talent or a dream that helps you feel your spark inside. Take three deep, slow breaths, savoring this moment of precious peace. Feel the sacred beauty of nature, and of the human heart, savoring that precious unity-point where the outside world touches your skin. Remember we are one people, sharing one planet, and enjoy a moment of gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of it.

Take another moment, please, to experience the positive, warm peace that dwells within the stillness. Form a memory of what that feels like. And from now on, whenever possible, call up that moment of peace to your conscious attention, to help you through a hectic time, or even to periodically brighten your day.

As you practice this, you can’t help but create a positive influence for the world you inhabit. May that warm embrace of the joyful stillness come easier and easier for you, until it shapes your every day.

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I have been quite aware of how strong an influence is  our baseline state of mind. I’ve noticed myself feeling tense and weary, then checked to find I was carrying a sense of being drained and overwhelmed.

I have been practicing taking a deep nourishing breath, and releasing that baseline mental pattern of stress. I recognized the beauty and generosity of Life, and remembered what at gift it is to have this experience. This lifted off much of the weight that I felt, and allowed me to begin to feel more energized and relaxed.

Soon after I realized this as a conscious practice, I came across this quote. May it help you learn how to frame your own mindset into who you would prefer to be!

You become that which you think you are. Or, it is not that you become it, but that the idea gets very deeply rooted – and that’s what all conditioning is.

– Osho

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One reason it’s so easy to get caught up in our thoughts is that we aren’t often grounded in our own skin. We tend to view our bodies as too mechanical, too “outward” or “foreign” versus “who we really are” in our minds.

That seems a bit backwards though, as I’m thinking about it now. So much of our brains’ resources are devoted to observing input from our bodies and managing all its many processes, it seems a little silly to view the body as separate from the mind. If we stop to focus our attention, we can even become closely aware of a portion of our bodies, filling our consciousness with the sensations of, say, our left foot, or our right ear. The mind as we experience it is closely tied to the brain, yes, which inherently ties us closely to the rest of our physical form, as well. The brain may be the CPU in the computer analogy, and this means it’s closely tied in with all the rest of the circuitry and processes.

So today, my Happy Zen Year practice involved taking a few moments to become more fully aware of being conscious within my body, rather than just my mind. I paused to observe the sensations of my skin, and within my lungs as I took measured, deep breaths. Because I’m feeling resistance to focusing within my body as I type, I’m going to stop and type out a relaxation exercise that helps ground and balance our minds within our body.

Lay down or otherwise be in a relaxed position, where your body is supported by the floor, chair, or whatever you’re on. Really settle down into that surface, trusting it to support your body. That is, feel within your mind and body the knowledge that if you let up on the tension and relaxed onto the surface, your body won’t crumble apart and fall down into nothingness. You’re secure there, stop holding yourself up and let the surface hold your weight.

Now, start at your toes, or even just one toe if you want to start SUPER focused. Take a deep breath, putting all your conscious attention into the sensations of that one toe. Feel how it feels, loving every sensation, as a part of your experience in being human at this moment. Take another breath, imagining the blood flowing down into that toe, filling it up with oxygen and nutrients, and clearing it out of waste and tension. If you want to use this as a relaxation exercise, breathe in quite deeply and tense up the toe, holding your breath and tension a few moments, before breathing it out and fully relaxing.  Take one more breath (or as many as you like) to focus into that toe, letting it relax into this purity of oxygenated, nutrient blood, letting go of all that it doesn’t need anymore.

As you take in your next breath, move your focused attention into your whole foot (or your next toe, you can go as slowly as you like).  Repeat the process with that foot, then your other foot, then your legs, then your hips, your back, your fingers/hands, your arms, your shoulders, your neck, your face, and your head. Then, put your focus to your whole body as a living organism, repeating this meditative breathing cycle once more. With your last breath in the meditation, breathe it out slowly, allowing the rest of the tension and all you no longer need to flow down into the surface beneath you, where it drizzles down in rivulets to the earth, where it nourishes new growth. (Don’t worry about your downstairs neighbors, it goes right into the earth where it belongs.)

Finally, take another breath inward, filling up your veins with oxygen and nutrients, energizing your body for the new growth you are ready for. Take as many breaths as you feel you’d like, until you are fully recharged. Then, you’re ready to get back to it, living life from within your skin.

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I am quite a fan of breathing meditation, particularly ones where you visualize white or golden light entering with your breath.  You then imagine that gold light flowing in through your lungs and to your heart, where it stays for a moment while you hold the breath.  (If you can’t or don’t want to hold your breath for a second or more, it can stay there while you exhale, and then glows more brightly as you add to it another breath.)  Then, as you exhale, the golden light flows to a part of you that needs attention or healing, or even just pumps outward from your heart, mingling with your bloodstream to nourish your whole self.

This is a little meditation that’s worth the practice, and can be done with half a mind while walking, doing dishes, driving, and so on.  The more you do it, the more you’ll find ways it works for you, and helps you better master being in your own skin.

There’s a great healing power in focusing on your breath.  As you bring in more oxygen, your body is nourished.  As you breathe deeply and rhythmically, your emotions are balanced.  As you focus on your breath and your heart, your mind is calmed and more receptive to the answers you need.  In this more-centered space, you’ll find insights if you practice patiently opening yourself to the golden flow of intentional breath.

This is one key to the heart of wisdom.

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I was just thinking about how many traditions emphasize the importance of breathing, from meditation to exercise to psychology to problem-solving.  Yet I sometimes have trouble breathing, because of health stuff, and because of habits that have taken hold because of these occasional “health stuff”, and because of all the times in a day I’m in a “holding my breath” kind of thought process.  Like this moment.
 
So I have an idea.  Every time I see the clock has changed to a new hour (or half-hour could even be a good goal), I’m going to stop and take three slow, deep breaths.  If I can, I’ll go for ten.
 
I recommend you give it a shot, see if it helps you feel better.  At the least, it might help you refocus throughout the day, maybe help you feel more like you’re present and on track.

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