Thursday, February 26, 2009

The lesson? Just breathe

This morning while taking a shower, I suddenly became aware that I believe the Universe has been trying to teach me a lesson for quite some time now: Just breathe.

Let me explain.

When I started working out with a personal trainer, I had trouble regulating my breathing. When the weights started to feel too heavy, I'd hold my breath in order to finish the set. But holding my breath deprived my brain from adequate oxygen and made me feel light-headed and dizzy. I'm blond; I'm already light-headed and dizzy! So I made a conscious effort to not hold my breath. The lesson? Just breathe.

A few weeks ago I went to a free class on meditation. (I wasn't particularly interested in meditation, but the class was free and some friends were going, so I went too.) Meditation employs controlled breathing to assist in achieving a deeper sense of relaxation or awareness. I followed the instructor's guided breathing directions and was able to feel a sense of calmness and control of my feelings and emotions. There's much more to it, but that's what I got from the free class. The lesson? Just breathe.

Last night I went to another free class, this one on yoga. I was excited about this because of all the positive things I've heard and read from others about yoga. The instructor shared a brief history of yoga, then talked about the Western practice of yoga as a healing type of exercise. It is accepting, non-judgemental, and non-competitive (like me). Before beginning with the stretching, we started with guided breathing exercises to promote relaxation and openness. The breathing exercises continued as we began our stretching and twisting. I enjoyed it a lot and hope to find more opportunities to practice it. The lesson? Just breathe.

So during my shower this morning when I perceived that the Universe had been trying to tell me to Just breathe, I thought about how many other situations are improved with breathing.

We've all heard someone say "Take a deep breath" before attempting something challenging or something requiring great skill or concentration. Now I realize that's not just an empty phrase. Taking a deep breath oxygenates the brain and allows it to work and focus better. The lesson? Just breathe.

When someone is engaged in a 'spirited conversation' (read: argument) with a co-worker or friend but does not want to go too far, they may tell themselves silently 'Take a deep breath' before responding. This not only forces the person to wait before shouting a response they may later regret, but also sends oxygen to the brain which helps them think more clearly. The lesson? Just breathe.

When my job is stressful and I notice every muscle is tense, I tell myself 'Deep breath; exhale slowly. Deep breath; exhale slowly" and it helps. Pent up stress can lead to all sorts of physical and psychological disorders, so don't let it build up too long. Remember the lesson and breathe.

Just breathe.

Crush du Jour: Charles Dera

8 comments:

cb said...

The tattoo on my leg is chanted during breathing exercises during meditation.

Breathing is good.

A Lewis said...

The breath in should be as long as the breath out....equal. And breath gives us life! Truly, simply, without it, we die. It's all about learning to appreciate it for what it does for us. I'm so happy for you!

Joy said...

I like this post and needed the reminder. I had a similar conversation other day at the gym with the trainer about breathing. Remembering it before heated discussions would help prevent it maybe. Thanks!

Berry Blog said...

I was reminded of this when ding rehab after a "coronary incident". The nurses used to just laugh out loud- and shout to me...breathe Charles...just breathe. I did...I forgot to breathe, like a fool, and was passing out on the treadmill.
Good stuff Mark.

Bob said...

If we all remembered to 'just breathe' it might be a much better world.
In that breath you can decide what really matters, what needs to be changed, what doesn't, what needs to be said, what doesn't.

Lovely post, Mark

truthspew said...

Interesting about the breathing and meditation.

I went to a Catholic high school, LaSalle Academy. It was pretty progressive at the time.

Once a week they'd take us over to the chapel and let us meditate. They initially taught us the breathing exercises.

We'd usually meditate for an hour to an hour and a half. Most of us used that time for a nap. But a very relaxing nap.

Steven said...

Isn't "Just Breathe" a name of a song that come out, perhaps in the 80's? There's this lyric playing over and over in my head with those two words....Ah yes...Michelle Branch.

Kevin said...

This is exactly where it comes from...

I recently finished some "mindful meditation" instruction and surprisingly (not), reminding myself to BREATHE tends to calm me almost instantly.

now...

are you suggesting a tattoo of charles dera? LOL!