With so many life events seemingly out of our control, knowing how to control our breathing to build resilience and restoration through our nervous system is a tool required to respond rather than react to these times.
Tree branches are often seen as a metaphor for our lungs illustrating the important exchange of nutrients and creation of life force happening in this part of our body through our breath. What if we viewed our lungs as branches of trees and our breath as an important resource creating calm and clarity in our inner environment to consciously navigate and respond to our outer environment?
The lungs are a powerful portal into our nervous system offering the opportunity for every breath to be an immediately applicable tool to align and attune the body as a barometer sensing and adjusting to the conditions of the moment. Our nervous system’s ability to restore calm and recover quickly from difficulty, literally springing back into a sense of homeostasis, is resilience building. Read more about your nervous system’s response to chaos and calm in our past blog Finding Your Rhythm within the Chaos.
Each and every time we use our breath as a tool to respond to the moment from a place of calm and connection, we are restoring wellbeing while conditioning our nervous system to build pathways of resilience. The body is learning to remember these pathways as healthy patterns, or maps, to follow in times of strife and fear.
Self-stimulating our 10th cranial vagus nerve through our breath resources our parasympathetic nervous system creating a calming effect or grace under fire during difficulty or discomfort. Building pathways of calm and conscious connection through our body and breath prepares us to respond to experiences happening in our outer environment rather than reacting from a place of fear. Experience this yourself in the practice below.
Short and potent practices create pathways leading to patterns in our body, brain and breath as well as in our life. Set a timer for 5 minutes to give your full attention to this practice or, when you are tight on time, experience 10 rounds of this vagus nerve stimulation breathing to build resilience and restore wellbeing.
- Find a comfortable seat to experience this practice
- Notice, or imagine, the earth beneath your feet and the safe, stable ground under your seat.
- Notice, or imagine, the vast sky above you and space all around you.
- Set your attention around your breath traveling through your inner environment. What is your breath sharing with you?
- Notice the texture, rhythm and even depth of your breath with open awareness. Allow the breath to move through you noticing how and where your body is responding to your breath for a few moments.
- Shift your attention around your heart space. Notice and allow any sensations, feelings or emotions arising as you set your awareness around the center of your heart. What do you notice?
- Imagine, or perhaps even feel, your inhale flowing from the earth below up into your body flooding your heart center and at the same time from the sky above down through your body and into your heart space. The earth and sky energy stir together in your heart. Exhaling allow the breath to release out of the heart space back down the body into the earth and up out of the body into the sky.
- Each inhale breathe the earth energy up into and the sky energy down into the heart space. Each exhale release the breath from the heart space down into the earth and up and out to the sky.
- Notice how this feels as you invite in Mother Earth and Father Sky to unite in your heart. Imagine, or even feel, the love from the earth and sky flooding your veins and chambers of your heart. Perhaps there is a color or texture streaming through as earth and sky energy.
- As you exhale, return your love and gratitude from your heart back to Mother Earth and Father Sky. If you have a worry or physical discomfort, consider releasing this from your heart on your exhale giving it to the earth and sky.
- Add a specific rhythm to your breathing to stimulate the relaxation response of the parasympathetic nervous system by increasing the duration of your exhale to twice the length of your inhale.
- Begin with an 8 count exhale out rounded lips like you are blowing out a candle from your heart allowing the exhale to release completely. Follow with a smooth 4 count inhale through your nose. Repeat this rhythm for your practice or you can increase to a 12 count exhale, 6 count inhale.
- To energize and revitalize your nervous system, reverse the ratio to a rhythm of 8-12 count inhale through the nose and 4-6 count exhale through rounded lips.
- Consider adding a positive thought wave to train your brain like “All is well” or “Thank you earth and sky” to repeat with each breath cycle.
- When you feel complete, take a few moments to notice how you feel in your heart space. What is your breath sharing with you in this moment after this short practice? What subtle or obvious shifts do you notice in the currents streaming through your breath, body and brain waves?
I would love to hear what you experience if you wish to share.
With love, Shanti
Shanti Medina, CYT CPT is the founder of Energize training systems and Body Current® therapeutics. She created her Body Current modality as a bridge between ancient wisdom and modern neuroscience with simple body-centered templates and tools to self-regulate the nervous system. Shanti is referred to loving by her clients as a brain trainer and breath coach.
Shanti enjoys supporting her clients in living their passion and purpose through practices of body-centered self-realization, brain training tools and breathing techniques for optimal wellness. She designs personal yoga therapy and fitness routines, threshold crossings, sacred ceremonies and rituals. Shanti has been honored to share her Body Current templates as part of a variety of 500HR Yoga Teacher Trainings and as faculty at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, the Neurosculpting Institute and the Sacred Arts Practitioner Certification.
To schedule your private session or to find out more about Shanti’s upcoming events and retreats visit www.EnergizeShanti.com