The more complex a dysfunction or intense the pain a person is experiencing, the more I’m finding the simplicity and accessibility of the breath being the one practice that has a lasting impact. Depending on the individual needs, some may focus on lengthening the exhale, some on receiving a full inhale and others on creating a balance between the two. Since the breath is one constant that is with us each moment of everyday, it is not only a highly accessible tool but also one that can easily be applied throughout our day for self-realization.
The breath is often the missing link in resolving chronic pain, mitigating daily stress and unraveling dysfunction. We often hold our breath or reverse our natural breathing during painful moments of trauma and strife. These moments create imprints, or stories, in our body’s memory often times wreaking havoc on our nervous system. Our breath is a portal through which we can down-regulate our limbic system gently shifting out of limiting conditioning and into the space of potential and possibility . Each conscious breath is an opportunity for transformation and embodied self-realization.
Practice: Breathe Into Embodied Self-Realization:
You can enjoy this conscious breathing practice standing, sitting or laying down anytime of day for an unlimited period of time. It’s not the quantity of time you put into the practice but rather the quality of earnestness to which you bring to this practice. Do not underestimate the potency of this simple, conscious breathing practice in mitigating stress and unraveling dysfunction, pain, and trauma.
– Place one hand on your naval and one hand on your heart. Take a few moments to simply notice your breath as it flows in and flows out. Heighten your awareness around your breath without judgement or an effort to change anything. Is it shallow? Is it fast or is it slow?
-Allow your self-directed awareness to feel the stable ground beneath you as your body continues to be breathed all on it’s own. Perhaps this provides you with an overall sense of safety and security in knowing you are on stable ground and your body breathes without your effort. This feeling of safety allows you to choose to use the breath as a tool.
-Begin to draw your next inhale through your nose and down the back of your throat making a soft ocean-like sound. Follow your slow and smooth inhale as it fills the bowl of your pelvis slowing expanding your naval as your lower hand lifts with the expansion of your breath.
-Allow the breath to rise from the lower naval up through your mid-body and upper body slowly sipping in the top of your inhale as the breath lifts the hand on your heart. Relax any tension you may feel in your jaw or neck. You can direct your inhale to any part of your body that is feeling the sensations of constriction or pain. Simply allow the inhale to softly expand into those spaces and places in your body that hold tension and pain. Perhaps you choose to deepen this experience by creating an intention of what you are embodying with each inhale.
-As you exhale, make a circle with your lips and slowly release the breath like you are blowing out a candle through rounded lips. Allow the breath to slowly leave the upper body, then mid-body, before squeezing out the bottom of the exhale bringing the naval to the spine upon the conclusion of the exhale. You will feel your lower hand move inward at the end of your exhale. Perhaps you wish to choose to envision what you are releasing with each exhale.
-Repeat slow, smooth and deep breathing without creating tension or strain. You can choose to balance the duration of the inhale and exhale by inhaling for a count of 8 and exhaling for a count of 8. Notice how sensation rises and falls with each breath. You may even notice how the sensation of pain rises and falls like a wave with each breath.
-Continue to lean into experiencing any and all sensations that arise with the breath through the frame of the present moment. As you continue to self-direct your nervous system, allow for an experience of self-realization to unfold with each and every breath.
image credit: www.mydeepmeditation.com