The breath is our tool for healing and transformation. Our breath directly communicates with the autonomic nervous system, encouraging either the sympathetic response or parasympathetic response. In the sympathetic state, thoughts are racing, scattered and fearful, and we make choices from subconscious or unconscious states.
In the parasympathetic state, the pace of our thoughts are slowed. We become present and mindful, allowing for “witness” consciousness. As the witness, we can watch the nature of our thoughts yet not participate in them. In these moments, we have the power to see, feel and heal.
The next time you feel yourself in an uncomfortable moment, which could be as soon as this afternoon or evening, slow down your breath. As you slow down the pace of your breath, deepen your inhalations and exhalations and internally listen to the voice that’s speaking. The key here is to not react to the voice. The voice, which is an unhealed aspect of Self, is your teacher in that moment. Just listen, breathe and feel the discomfort in your body without responding to it. You can't heal it if you can't feel it.
The emotion comes down as you sit with your breath. As you create space for the emotion, imagine the story playing out across a screen. Remember that you are not the actor or actress playing out these emotions; you are the one witnessing it all. Breathe as the emotion and your innate drive to react to stimulus dissipates. Stay focused on the breath as you purify the body. The more often you can stay with this practice the more often you will release the emotional charge from your body at a cellular level, all while retaining the wisdom of the experience.
Here’s a breathing exercise to work with in the moment:
- Begin to deepen your breath to a slow, steady, diaphragmatic breath. Allow your exhale to be twice as long as your inhale, while cultivating the ocean sound (Ujjayi Pranayama). Repeat for several rounds until you feel the intensity of the emotion begin to dissipate.
- Move into incremental breathing by inhaling the breath in quarters (breaking the inhale into four parts). Inhale to 25% capacity; hold. Inhale to 50% capacity; hold. To 75%; hold. To 100%; hold. Exhale in the same fashion. Repeat for several rounds.
- Move into alternate nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana). Bring your hands into Vishna Mudra. Place the thumb on right nostril and exhale through the left nostril before inhaling up the left nasal channel. Close off the left nostril and exhale out the right nostril followed by an inhale up the right nasal channel. Switch to the opposite side and repeat for several rounds.
- In the silence is the wisdom. Just be in meditation for five to 10 minutes and allow “witness” consciousness to examine the thoughts and emotions from the event.
- How were you showing up in that moment?
- Label the emotions you were feeling
- What is a pattern of behavior that would have followed this situation? Isolation, eating, smoking, drinking, aggression toward someone else?
All we have is the present moment. The present moment empowers conscious choice and transformation from the inside out.
Learn more about the power of breath with Ed this October. Conscious Breath Workshop LIVE Webinar.
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