The next several posts were written over the past few years. The site they were on is now closed, so I've posted them on my own site.
We're all told, in every physical or spiritual program we may be involved with, that we must learn to breathe. Breathe deeply, we're instructed; inhale to lung capacity, then release fully. Obviously, we don't need to learn the basics of breathing or we wouldn't still be here. However, research shows that we can maximize our health through the intake of more oxygen. This means moving up from breathing 101A to graduate level breathing. With my clients I generally find that half of their breathing pattern is out of balance: they don't fully exhale...in other words, they don't let go. This is understandable; it's connected to the primitive brain. We hold on when we're traumatized or under stress. During times of intense stress our autonomic functions slow down to help us conserve energy. We hunch our shoulders and fold in on ourselves to protect our soft innards. My clients are de facto in a state of stress or they wouldn't be spending money to come see me. But beyond that, many of us train ourselves to be in a habitual state of stress by repeating physical and mental scenarios over and over. Consequently, many of us spend our days in an unconscious stance of holding on, with our shoulders tight, our circulation impeded. So, although it's important to take a good deep breath and feels wonderful to do so, it's equally important to experience the other side as you release it. What happens when you let go? Feel your shoulders relax, your neck soften. Maybe you notice a sense of openness throughout your skull as various muscles around your jaw, your eyes, and through your temples also soften. You might experience a corresponding sense of clarity, since circulation is now able to move unimpeded. Further, and perhaps most important, your might be aware, even momentarily, of the removal of stress, tension, anxiety, and any negative thoughts you were holding. The release of those four states of being is already a step in the direction of healing yourself. And with repetition, like any habit, they will grow. Consider how many breaths you take a minute, a day. Now imagine that, with intent, each of your exhalations is removing negativity from your body and your mind.