Conscious Breathing

Your breath reflects the way you feel. Take a moment here. Close your eyes and just notice your breath. Is it quick and shallow? Is it forceful? Is it characterized by long inhalations and exhalations? Don’t try to change anything, simply notice. “Self-Observation Without Judgement”, as Swami Kripalu teaches.

In the practice of yoga, we focus our attention on our breath as we move through the various postures. As we hold more difficult postures, we put even more emphasis on the breath to help us keep the postures longer. Breathing consciously can be calming and relaxing. Bringing full awareness to the breath, is also a form of meditation.

Your breath can tell you much about yourself and how you are feeling. For example, I know that when I am going through a set of strenuous moves while rock climbing, I get out of breath. The result being that as I come out of a crux (the most difficult portion of a climb) I have difficulty breathing. This is because I simply don’t breathe when I make those moves!

How is this relevant to anything? Well, for climbing or any other strenuous activity, it is very important. The body’s priority is to provide oxygen to the brain first. This means that if the body isn’t getting the oxygen it needs because you are retaining your breath, it automatically starts channeling what it has left to feed the brain leaving the muscles and the rest of the body without oxygen, making it more strenuous to move and eventually leading to hyperventilate or to faint.

And so, in daily life situations, when we get angry or nervous, if our breath becomes fast and out of control or if we restrict its flow, we quickly become physically ill. This being said, becoming more conscious of our breathing can affect positive changes in our lives. So take a deep breath, notice your posture, your heartbeat, relax and let go.

Namaste.

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Worry bead

I worry a lot, not all the time, but a lot! I don’t worry much about myself or such things as what other people think of me, but I often worry about my friends and family. Granted, I worry about certain things in my life too, but usually not for very long or not to the same extent.

When a friend is sad, I wonder if she’ll be ok and I worry about what I could do or how I could help, wishing that I could be there for her. When my friends and family travel, I worry that something might happen and that I won’t be able to do anything about it. I worry about insulting or hurting people and I worry about being taken the wrong way. I even feel concerned when people I don’t even know are fighting!

I tend to feel other people’s emotions very strongly and this empathy has often made me vulnerable to negativity. Perhaps I care too much; is there such a thing? I’ve learned to control it somewhat, by not allowing it to affect me and by focusing on Ajna, but when it comes to loved ones, it is so very hard!

On one hand, I see this as a flaw because I understand it as wanting control over the situation. On the other hand, perhaps as the eldest of three, I feel it is my duty to protect. What I find most difficult about it though is when people perceive my concern as a lack of confidence in their abilities, which is not the case but which I can totally understand. Then again, worrying about people’s well-being is what fuels my compassion in the work that I do…

But what is truly important, is that when I worry about others or myself, it means that I have fear about something that may or may not happen (mostly the case!), which in fact means that I am not living my life now. As I believe that happiness is found in enjoying every moment life offers, worrying drives me away from this goal. I am working to find the fine balance between worrying for actual things I should worry about and not worry about the rest. It is a constant battle against myself, one side arguing “but I care”, whilst the other side recognizing the Ego’s work.

Only by acknowledging my True Self can I be freed from it. I am a worry bead trying to break free from the chain.

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