I know I talk about breathing a lot, but the practice of pranayama is no joke. It’s powerful. I have practiced pranayama since long before I was even cognizant of its yogic title, since before I’d even unfurled a yoga mat at age twelve and taken my first class.
My dad has always been an advocate of the revered “belly breath.” I remember him telling me in times of worry, “belly breaths.” I’d always listen, and I’d always feel soothed, calmed. My dad still reminds me to take belly breaths and I, in turn, find myself urging others to take belly breaths when life starts to get rambunctious. Perhaps this is my destiny, to become a yoga teacher.
I was having some anxiety at work today (the tune of my last few blog posts ought to cue y’all in on the fact that I’m having some über stress this week due to the nature of my current circumstances), so I carved out the latter portion of my lunch break to hide in the ladies room and practice some pranayama. If it weren’t arctic outside (this California girl would last not five minutes on the East Coast) I’d have taken my practice out there, but for the sake of time, the ladies room had to suffice today.
I placed a hand on my belly and one over my heart and began diaphragmatic breathing. Pranayama. In through the nose rising first the chest, filling the lungs, slowly expanding the belly, filling with air from the crown of my head to the tip of my tailbone . . . and then firming the belly and slowly pushing the air up my spine, flattening the diaphragm, slowly letting the chest sink, and releasing the breath, all the way up as though I could press the stream of breath out through my skull.
I took several rounds, eyes closed, and instantly was calmed. Belly breaths.
I swear if insurance covered massage/body work, yoga/meditation, and therapy, there’d be a shocking decline in need for anti-anxiety medications. Heck, I reckon there’d be a massive decline in anxiety disorders in general.
I was very frustrated with my anxiety today. My mind worked it’s patient way rationally around the matter. Then it continued to do so about every eleven minutes, on the dot.
I finally got the point where I said to myself, “Enough already! What is it you want? A magic remedy to the stress, the perfect answer? Because I don’t have either! How many times to I have to repeat ‘the mind is energy, regulate it’ for you to just be satisfied!?“
I was having a mind/body disconnection . . . these really urk me.
I pretty much thrive on my mind and body being in pretty awesome harmony, with my spirit dancing evenly between them. The trilogy keeps me peaceful, keeps me bobbing along in the waves that are each day, each blurring moment. When they are out of sync, I flounder. I crumble. And they’ve been out of sync for days. For me, this is catastrophic.
The good news is this: I’m not depressed, YAY! (I was beginning to grow worries at the damper my spirits were becoming familiar with.) I’m simply learning a lesson about myself that I am meant to learn right now, at the exact moment, in this body.
I crave consonance.
When my body steps out of line (as it has with my recent aches and pains) my mind literally says, “OH SHIT.” I do the same thing when I fear I’m coming down with something (notice the use of the world “fear” there). Instead of hunkering down and carving out some time for rest and recuperation, I proceed to saturate my system with every antidote, remedy and preventative measure I can dig out of my medicine woman tool kit. My mom will say to me, “Honey . . . just rest.” And I’m like, “I will mom, as soon as I finish making my vegetable soup from scratch, boiling water for my eucalyptus oil steam, brewing organic ginger root tea and using my nettie pot.
Ha! Except I’m not kidding.
I’m coming to the realization that this “fearful” existence, this being “afraid” of medications, of chemicals, of illness, of injury, of stress, of sadness, of failure . . . this “fearful existence” is an epidemic! Stress affects the body far more horrendously than a freaking ibuprofen! An anxiety attack will cram the body with toxins twice as fast as a drinking a cocktail, eating a processed snack or skipping a day of vitamins. Truly. Stress is literally poison in the body. And what is fear? Fear is stress. They’re fraternal twins. Fear eats away at the purity of the body, riddling the mind with “what ifs” and causing a person to chase their tail, trying to prevent all ills and defeat.
Give up the fearful living (I’m talking to myself here, but feel free to jump in if you are squinting at the screen right now thinking, “Oooh . . . I do that.”).
How do I suggest I/we do this? How do I suggest simply “quitting” the habitual thought patterns that circulate in the mind of a fearful liver?
We’re in this together. This mind is energy, and we can regulate it. But it’s a heck of a lot easier when you have a tribe of likeminded spirit warriors cheering you on.
So I’m here, cheering you on, cheering myself on, cheering on humanity. Step away from the fear, embrace the periodic incongruities as learning experiences, and live each day with the peace of mind that is so artfully cultivated in moments like these.
Inhale. Exhale. Belly breaths.