Thursday, August 28, 2008

Just Breathe

Mindfulness is as simple as this most basic element of life. It's the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do before we die. It is the essence of life and the most suggested remedy for whatever ails you, be it physical or emotional pain, anxiety, fear, stress etc. - just breathe. The thing with breathing is it starts out so natural and easy and as we have life experiences we begin to change that. We may breathe more shallow, hold our breathe in tension, breathe faster or we sabotage our health to the point of inhibiting the ability to breathe. Breathing is the root of our well being. An analogy of how simple it can be to change our lives through awareness of our breath is an example from Caesar Millan, the dog whisperer. The position of a dogs tail shows its emotional state and when Caesar wanted to help a dog become less anxious he didn't try some deep psychological technique but simply physically raised the dog's tail from between it's legs. Consciously coming back to a natural state of breathing can change our emotional state in the same way no matter what is happening around us, that is why we know to just breathe in moments of stress. Just as natural breathing can bring us to a natural grounded relaxed state the opposite is also true, shallow or erratic breathing for no reason can send you into a stressful state, just like changing the position of the dogs tail.

One of the healthiest changes I have made in my life is to practice natural breathing throughout the day, just take a minute wherever you are, breathe in slowly through your nose and as your diaphragm drops, allow your stomach then chest to expand and then let it all out pulling your navel inward and repeat. This is the first lesson to be taught in the Kids Awareness Program, learning to focus on the breath. The activity will be to place their hands or an object on their stomach to watch it rise and fall and to feel the breathe as it enters and leaves and how they can come back to that relaxed state at any time by focusing on their breath.

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