Friday, June 11, 2010

Focus On Breathing - Exercises and Awareness

If you have read the past two posts "Focus On Our Breathing" and "Focus On Our Breathing - 30 Second Exercise", than you will already have understood why focusing on breathing is important and a quick way that you can do this. If you have not read these two entries, please check them out.

Breathing is so powerful and I'm sure each person reading this blog post is aware of that. However, we often forget and neglect the most basic thing we do outside of pumping blood through our veins. All too often, we go through life just assuming we are breathing as we need to but we never stop to check to see how we are actually breathing. I remember sitting through many counseling or bodywork sessions and having people remind me to breathe. At first I was startled by their comments for me to remember to breathe because I thought I was. However, as I have since found out, there are times that I almost hold my breath or I just don't breathe! It may sound strange but I have witnessed this in not only myself but in many others.

As a massage therapist, I have used breath work to help people really go in and release deep, long held pain within in their bodies in a very short time. Having people use their breath as I work on them in a very directed way is powerful and makes my job much easier and their results more profound. It is important to note that each one of us can go deep within our own bodies using our breath and release tension, pain and long held somatic memories.

Here's some thoughts about how you might actually go about working with breath on your own. These are additional methods to the 30 second exercise I shared about in a previous blog post.

1) Find a comfortable place such as a bed, massage table or maybe a lounge chair on your patio. Get yourself comfortable and make sure the place you are lying on has much support but is also soft and gentle on your body. You could also sit up in a meditative style if you want but I find that the body really lets go when it is not trying to hold itself up. It doesn't make sense to me to sit up, having tension in your body while trying to let go of that tension. Maybe it makes sense to some but not to me in my experiences.

2) If you have a pulse meter, check your pulse before you begin and establish a baseline of where you are at. This helps greatly because then you will truly know what is going on within your body and you will see through measurement what effect it will have had upon you. There will be no second guessing or having your mind trick you into thinking that something happened. There is too much of that in our society and in our healing world where people think something happened, when in all reality, very little if anything at did actually happen. I use the Finger Pulse Oximeter OctiveTech 300Pro. The reason I use this pulse meter is that it tells me in real time what my pulse is and how the wave forms of my pulse appear. It gives me some very good and helpful information. Plus, it shows me exactly what is going on, not what my mind maybe tricking me into believing what is going on.

3) To begin, just get comfortable in the place you have chosen and lie there for a few minutes doing nothing but just sensing what it is like to lay on the table. I'm going to use the word "table" referring to a massage table to make this easier to explain. What does it feel like to lay there on the table? Are you completely comfortable or can you add a pillow or change your position to feel more comfortable? Just sense all of that and take it in for a few minutes. Focus on allowing all your busy thoughts and things that you need to accomplish, to just stand outside the door of the room you are in. You can always pick them up at the door later if you so choose but for now, they are not needed.

4) As you begin to feel the comfort and support of the table, begin to focus in on your breathing. Notice the inhale and exhale, the rise and fall of your breath. This is not the time for judgment but just observation. Observation which allows you to look at it through caring, loving and accepting eyes. Take note of the depth or shallowness of your breath as well as the speed of it. What is it like? How deep is it or how shallow is it? Maybe even trying to sense this is difficult at best for you and if it is, take note of that. Consider giving yourself the option of just allowing that feeling to be there and to be ok with it, not expecting anything more than is happening.

5) Continue breathing and then see if there is any change within how shallow or deep it is, how slow or fast it is and any other qualities you may find. Keep noticing this and focusing upon your breath. While you are doing this, you may begin to notice things within your body. This could range from minor shaking and trembling to maybe a body part is moving on its own. You might also notice an itching sensation or tingling as well as you might notice areas where it is almost a numb feeling. Emotions such as crying and laughter among other things may be showing up. There may be unexplained pains or stiffness that is present. You may see colors or feel all kinds of sensations within your body. Accept and honor all these things for they are your messages and your gifts to bringing about greater awareness within your body.

6) Keep your focus on what is happening within your body and with your breath. While all the experiences may be exciting and it could be easy to get lost in those, keep your focus on what you can sense and feel within your body. For this is where the true healing will take place and lead you to a greater awareness. If you begin to find areas of discomfort and pain or strong emotions coming up, begin to shift your breathing to these areas and imagine filling yourself up with the power of your breath. You may notice that your breathing speeds up as if you were running a race and that is perfectly ok. Allow your breathing to go where it needs to and then keep observing to see how things change in your body. Are areas less tense, less painful? Have emotions changed that maybe you were feeling and experiencing? Maybe some of the things you noticed have shifted from one area to another. Maybe you're feeling heat rise from your body. Welcome all these things and just continue to observe everything that is taking place. Continue to allow yourself to be with what is happening and just allow it to take place without trying to control, change or manipulate it or judge it.

7) As your body moves through the feelings and as you begin to feel and sense more of your breathing, allow your body to just sink down into the table and find a moment of peace and rest. Know that you do not have to solve everything in your life that may be showing up in your body at one time. Sometimes, short bursts of doing this type of exercise is healing far beyond comprehension. So just allow your body to come back down to a moment of stillness and rest on the table, giving it honor and thanking it for being there for you.

8) After laying there for a few minutes, you might check your pulse again with the pulse meter we discussed above. How did your pulse change? Is it significantly lower? Is the wave form more pointed and even? Then match that up with how you feel now versus how you felt before you started. What changed in your body? What changed in your mind?

Honor all these things and take them all in. Treasure them as gifts of awareness for they will connect together the more you do exercises like this and they will yield so much to your life. For you have the power to do so much within your own body. Yes, there may be some difficult challenges in which you want a safe and supportive person there with you to help coach you through them. We are all much more powerful than we realize and we can do so much on our own that will give us so much in our lives.

If you have found this helpful and you're working with it, I would love to hear your experiences. If it was possible, I would most likely ask to share them on this blog. For I know in my own life, some of the basic things above that I described have helped me push through so much in my life and helped me heal in my own awareness. My hope is that as a result of this exercise, that your life will grow in a more rich awareness and it will help you further your own journey of self discovery and healing.

*For more articles, check out the Mind Body Thoughts Blog

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely so true! I realised that if i breathed from my diaphragm instead of higher in my lungs, it generated a lower reading on my blood pressure monitor!