WHY (OH WHY) CAN’T I BREATHE PROPERLY – DAY 4
The experience of the breath is like a mathematical equation: physical sensors detecting touch + checking against memory banks for similar previous experiences + judging if nice or nasty? + action to ‘get more’ or ‘get less’.
So far, this course has explored practices to become more comfortable with the power of the mind in this equation. We have seen how the subconscious mind can make breathing less calm and more difficult, even when the conscious mind is hoping for the opposite.
Now we head in a totally new direction. Focusing ‘in’ on the breath can feel intense, like a fighter pilot scanning for the bomb drop zone, with all the inherent tension that brings!
So today, the invitation is to open out, to go into wide-angle focus.
Sitting down or standing up, start with your arms dangling down next to your sides, and your shoulders as relaxed as they’re willing to be. Give the arms a gentle shake, like you’re shaking candy floss off your palms.
Now lifting both your arms forwards and smoothly on up towards the sky, then down again. Doing this about 4 times, nice and slowly, to feel any tensions or tightness, looseness or ease. Whatever you notice in your arms is welcome. Nothing needs to be improved. Now opening the arms out to the sides, as if to embrace your dearest friend coming towards you, and then hugging around your own chest – your friend folded inside your hug.
Repeat these arm movements. Is your body matching in- or out-breaths to the up/down, open/close movements? Breathing with the movement, or not? Watch for the judging mind! Either are fine, both are right, neither is wrong. It’s not a trick, it’s true! We all have our own innate way of breathing with movement or holding the breath with movement.
Play around with the practice, being as child-like and curious as possible. Maybe try out different matching pairs: breathing in as arms go up and next time, breathing out as arms go up. This frees up fixed, habitual or old ‘programming’ of the breath in a fun and receptive space.
Repeat this as often as you need a break from your daily chores. Over time, you will get more comfortable with noticing the movement of the body and breath together.
John Welwood: Forget about enlightenment
Forget about enlightenment.
Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins.
Feel the love, the longing, the fear in your bones.
Open your heart to who you are, right now,
Not who you would like to be,
Not the saint you are striving to become,
But the being right here before you, inside you, around you.
All of you is holy.
You are already more and less
Than whatever you can know.
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