Aug. 9th, 2012

mur: (Default)
REJOICE! You are alive. You are reading this; therefore, you must be breathing. As Thich Nhat Hanh writes in his book You Are Here, "Every twenty-four-hour day is a tremendous gift to us" (1). What better way to acknowledge the happiness of existence than with our breath. In fact, this is the most effective way to appreciate the present moment. It's also an effective way to calm ourselves down when we are aggravated, angry, or upset. It helps us to refocus the mind and rationalize through a particularly stinging emotion. By being able to control our emotions, we are better able to maintain an overall sense of peace and happiness (because remember- control is an illusion. The only thing we ever have any control over is ourselves, and even that is somewhat limited to our emotions and our reactions).

I will delve more deeply into these other things at a later time, but for now I'd like to focus on the breathing technique. It doesn't take much time to feel the benefits and you don't need to be in any specific position or place.

1. Relax your body the best you can. You can be sitting or lying down.
2. Close your eyes. Try keeping your mind clear- you can do this by mentally visualizing an object like a letter, or a symbol and focusing on that visual without attaching thoughts to it. When I catch myself worrying or thinking about something else, I calmly acknowledge that the thought is there and visually push the thought out of my head. This takes practice, but once you are comfortable clearing your mind the next step becomes a piece of pie.
3. Take a deep breath. No need to force it. Make it comfortable.
4. Now imagine as your breathe in the cool air enters your nose and travels to your lungs, your heart, your limbs, your mind, and your body. Do not force the breath, just acknowledge its existence by breathing in.
5. Now breathe out. Feel the warmth of the air leaving your body making you feel relaxed and calmed. You should recognize your body relaxing and your breath becoming stronger and more controlled without you trying to control it.
6. Continue this for a couple of minutes, or as long as you'd like.

Another method is while breathing in say to yourself, "Breathing in, I know I am breathing in," and while breathing out say, "Breathing out, I know I am breathing out." This is Thich Nhat Hanh's method.

Deep breathing is so very important to the human body. It helps the blood flow which keeps your organs and body vitalized by helping to remove toxins and tension. It can also help to alleviate pain and stress. Did you know stress is a killer? Yup. It also assists in increasing your cortisol levels, which is linked to abdominal fat. Bottom line- stop being so worried and stressed and just BREATHE!

It's a no-brainer that high stress levels can lead to a lack of sleep, irritability, and even depression. It also makes time fly while you're stressing out. And you only have one chance with this life, so why not try to make the best of it? Well, breathing is a great way to start. Just take a few moments a day to practice conscious breathing.

A Scenario:

1. You're at work serving customers/clients when a really rude one just reamed you a new one for the price of your products/services. What do you do?

A) Call that customer/client a troll, which would result in your dismissal from your job.
B) Take the abuse, but go home after work and cry while eating an entire jar of Nutella.
C) Take a moment to breathe before responding politely, yet authoritatively. Then breathing some more once this particular customer/client leaves. Then moving on from the situation entirely.

Correct answer: C. I know the scenario is somewhat flawed, and the answers may not apply to you entirely, but the point is allowing some time to breathe can help level your own emotions and clear your mind. Clearing your mind allows you to react accordingly. Too many people react dramatically to situations because this is what mainstream media is shoving down our throats. We have all of these "reality TV shows" that show people acting, in my opinion, completely crazy. This is not real life, and in fact watching these types of shows really only drains the life from us. As brain-numbing as television in fact is, it is not a healthy way to reconnect with your body and your mind. Television is a different entry all together.

Regardless, my own personal experience with conscious breathing has been a rewarding one. I'm no expert, and sometimes I forget to practice daily, but I can tell you it works wonders when it comes to dealing with life and the stress of living.

So please, rejoice in your life! Your heart and lungs are working hard for you, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your existence. It only takes a few moments to appreciate the art of breathing and allow your mind to refocus on the present moment. This is truly the secret to happiness.

Next entry I will focus on the importance of sleep.

Thank you for reading, and as always, take care!



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