I saw a beautiful ocean image with that quote in a shop window in Cannon Beach on the gorgeous Oregon coast. I thought, yes, that is me. Sometimes, I need to vacate my normal life just to remember to breathe. I don’t know how many times that I have caught myself sitting at my desk, in a meeting, on the phone, in a conversation with my teen daughter, driving, etc. and, also holding my breath. Stress is real and while some stress can be beneficial for us because it gets us moving and can make us more resilient, the kind that makes us hold our breath is not so good. When I catch myself holding my breath, I take several cleansing breaths. Just easy, slow, deep breaths in and out, in a very natural rhythm, nothing forced or counted.
When I’m feeling particularly body stressed (so my mind is behaving but I have more kinks and sore muscles than I can count), I practice a full body relaxation. I like to do this in a comfortable reclining position. Take a couple deep cleansing breaths. I try to start in an area as far from my most stressed area as possible. Commonly my most stressed area will be my jaw so I often start at my toes. To begin, focus on your toes, take nice deep slow breaths and envision sending that relaxing breath to your toes, feeling your toes relax. Systematically work your way through your body from the tips of your toes to the top of your head focusing and relaxing each part. Then wiggle your fingers and toes and bring your awareness back to the world. Another way to do this is to wiggle or flex each area of your body and then relax the area. Both are great for creating a relaxed state of your body.
If you find yourself holding your breath during your normal day to day activities, maybe set a timer for once an hour and check in. Take some deep breaths, walk around a little, maybe have some water ~ you know, all those little things that are essential to keeping us sane. I’ve starting standing more while working and I’ve noticed that I am breathing more. I think it might be harder to hold your breath while standing so that could be another big advantage to a standing desk.
There are a gazillion breathing exercises. Pranayama, from Hindu Yoga, is the formal practice of controlling the breath, which is the source of our prana, or vital life force and is one of my favorite parts of yoga. There are other techniques that I use and others that I’m planning to experiment with that I look forward to sharing here too. So look for more on conscious breathing in the future. Peace out.
This post is one in a collection of posts arising from the Frenzied Mind.