WHY (OH WHY) CAN’T I BREATHE PROPERLY – DAY 5
Sitting still and silent, eyes closed, attempting to use the breath to feel calm – does this send you into paroxysms of short and tight breath? You are not alone.
Have you tried taking deep breaths to mitigate a panic attack, but found it made things worse? You are not alone.
Ever got into a total knot, trying to make your tummy swell on an in-breath – no, wait – was it an out-breath – no, an in-breath? Argh! You are not alone.
It seems that instructions to notice the tummy or ribs rise, swell or flatten can cause double-trouble. Since we can make our tummy expand by pushing the muscles out, we can end up in a knotty mess, confused, irritated and far from calm.
Trying to perfect the breathing ends up with lots of ‘trying’ and not much perfection!
How can breathing become so complicated?
One helpful and simple method is to use movement. It’s true that breathing is an action of moving air, but what if we think of it in a different way? Perhaps think of breathing as a movement getting bigger and getting smaller.
Experimenting playfully with movement can free us up a little. A more relaxed ‘attitude’ to the breath may make the breath itself feel more relaxed!
Two ‘games’ today:
1. Take a rubber band and pull it wide then let it relax back to its original shape. Repeat this three or four times, nice and slowly. Once you have the hang of not snapping the band, or hurting yourself with a flying band, see how it feels to match your in-breath to the stretch and your out-breath to the slackening.
2. Dispense with the band, and holding your hands palm to palm, separate the hands, then bring them closer together, slowly and rhythmically, a few times. Now start to match the in-breath to the hands moving apart and the out-breath to the hands moving together.
Try this a few times over the course of the day. Maybe experiment with making the hand movements bigger and smaller, and letting the ribs follow, widening and narrowing. If this is still tricky, don’t worry. More ideas tomorrow.
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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