I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until I started to practice deep breathing. This was years ago, before meditation and yoga started to become so popular. Back then, I had not undergone the requisite training for having a baby, which included timed breathing. So I was more inclined to literally hold my breath for short periods, all day long, without realizing it.
Why on earth would someone be holding their breath? Seems like such an odd thing to do. Even when I was told I might be doing it, I had not believed it to be true. But, when I started to practice deep, timed breathing, I realized how shallow my normal breath is.
The benefits of deep breathing are probably different for everyone. For me, the most significant benefit is that my brain works better. I am more calm and can see all the connections between my seemingly random thoughts. When I’m not breathing deeply my thoughts are significantly more scattered.
I can even use a deep breathing practice, yoga or meditation to put myself to sleep. A few weeks ago when I landed in Barcelona, I had the usual situation occur of being wide awake at 2am. Now, nothing good happens at that time of night. I know this now, even though I didn’t as a teenager. To combat this ‘wide awake’ problem, my usual ‘go to’ was prescription sleeping pills. But in my new, post corporate life, I wanted to be rid of all that. Deep breathing, while listening to Tara Brach‘s guided meditation does the trick.
When I am feeling particularly anxious about something, if I check myself, I’m likely not breathing as deeply as I could be. By refocusing my attention towards my breath and clearing my mind, I can solve most problems. I like to reason that if I can think myself into tense, depressing and anxious thoughts, I can also think myself out of all that.
However, I can still fall into my old habits!
Yesterday, it seems we have found a renter for our house. An excellent situation, really. Just what we were looking and hoping for. With this arrangement, I expected to feel a wash of relief come over me because this big component of our trip logistics has been sorted. I kept telling myself that I needed this one thing to be taken care of to feel better. In reality, I felt no different from one moment to the next. Even though the rental income is a deal breaker for the financing of this trip, I didn’t get a wash of warm fuzzy emotions.
When I started to wonder, what I was feeling, I discovered I had transferred my sense of worry down my to-do list, to the next thing. In other words, my brain had not missed a beat. Each item on my list was just as important as the next, which is kind of silly. Then it hit me. I was holding my breath. Knocking down my to-do list was not giving me a sense of elation because I was letting myself become anxious.
So it goes to show that no matter what situation I am in, I need to keep a good perspective. Practice deep breathing in order to help my brain best serve what is good for me. And reach out to my friends and family to talk about what I am feeling. Holding in my feelings has been as common place for me, as holding my breath.
I am not sure why I need to keep learning these lessons, over and over again. But, there it is. A truth I know about myself. I am more than my to-do list and I have so many wonderful opportunities on the horizon. Things I can imagine and so many more amazing encounters and sights I can’t comprehend yet.
Now to sit in a comfortable position and let Tara’s soothing speaking cadence wash over me. My life is truly a gift and I am so incredibly grateful for everyone who loves and supports me.
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