Barbara Meiklejohn-Free on the importance of breathing and how you can practise simple exercises during busy times to control stress and anxiety.
In many spiritual practices, air and the breath are very important. By breathing fully and consciously, in and out, we still the mind and our emotions, take more oxygen into our systems, and prepare our bodies to enter into a deeply relaxed state, where we can more easily receive the intimations of the divine. It would be my pleasure to introduce you to several simple practices that will help you to enter and sustain a relaxed state of mind, even during this busy period, preparing to enter the New Year.
Leonard Orr, one of the elders of the re-birthing movement, teaches a basic breathing exercise that you can practice at home or when you are busy and feeling overloaded in your work environment. In either a sitting, lying, standing or walking posture, take a full somewhat short and yet natural breath in through your nose. Exhale through your nose and repeat this natural and shallow breath two more times. You may close your eyes or keep them open especially if you are using this breathing method to relax during freeway driving time. On the fourth breath, let your inhaling breath be fuller, taking more air in through your nose for a longer time. Then on the exhale, release your breath fully and completely, letting your body completely relax during the exhaling process. Repeat this pattern of three natural, short breaths and one long, deep, natural breath at least four times (or longer if you wish).
Most of us who have grown up under the influence of Western culture breathe in a shallow and incomplete way. Consequently, we do not ‘take in’ the fuller aspects of a conscious life. You will find that as you began to breathe more fully and consciously, you will begin to open up to yourself and your world more completely. Often times we tighten up our muscles and our breathing apparatus when we are under pressure or simply ‘feel’ that we are under attack. Martial arts students know that a large part of their success comes from their ability to breathe fully and completely, especially when they are being threatened by an opponent. We, like they, need to have a clear, grounded, open and non-attached posture, especially when we feel that some aspect of our life is being invaded.
If we use tobacco or other drugs in an excessive way, it is also harder for us to fully open up our lungs and other aspects of ourselves to the divine. Remember that in the microcosm of all things the smallest of processes is the macrocosm the largest of life’s lessons. So during your time in the North, take some time to practice breathing in a full and complete way. If you would like to learn more about the practices of the breath and are so inclined, you might want to attend a re-birthing or yoga workshop or have an individual session with a qualified re-birther or yoga teacher. In the breath is all of life. It’s as simple as that.
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