Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Smile, breathe and go slowly. ~Thich Nhat Hanh


A bunch of neighbors and I were out last night during the brief, beautiful snowstorm.

Do you breathe? I mean, really breathe? I try to remember how much it helps everything, no matter the situation, to take two or three deep breaths. Mindful breathing is the foundation for so many helpful practices, from yoga to prayer to meditation, also every kind of athletic endeavor, not to mention the making of music. Even whistling depends on breath. A sigh, a whisper, the sensation of someone blowing gently into the ear - all of these depend on breath.

If you stop breathing, you will be dead in a matter of minutes. Breathing is the most crucial living act.

Did you know that when you breathe, your ribcage expands, each rib tilts outwards and lifts? Your trunk elongates and the curves in your spine straighten slightly. Inhalation means that your big ole tough diaphram has dropped, creating a vacuum so air rushes into your lungs. Exhaling, though it feels easier (at least to me), is a forceful act: the diaphram lifts, pushing air out.

Ah sweet breath. I'm thinking about it today because yesterday the osteopath, who worked hard on me for a long time, explained that my shoulder girdle and ribs were so screwed up, I haven't really been capable of a true, deep breath for awhile now. He even asked if I'd been punched in the chest recently. Hmmm ... in a manner of speaking, yes. That dragon-arrow of the eclipse literally passed straight through my heart, apparently, wreaking havoc as well as inspiring awe. Wow. Such is the way of dragons.

Not being able to breathe accounts for my creeped out moods of late, for the nightmares and such. I am so grateful for my marvelous health care practitioners. Bowing low in thanks for the art/science of osteopathy, breathing deeply - and easily - this morning. Everything seems better. It's incredible how much can change simply by addressing physiology. Thank God!

16 comments:

Dan Gurney said...

So, you're breathing easier now. Yeah. Sigh.

Breathing is so important and seems more important as I get older. I can remember the annoyance I felt when my first Zen teacher told me I didn't know how to breathe. I thought he was ridiculous. He wasn't ridiculous, he was right.

ellen abbott said...

Yeah, I've had that brought home to me many times. My chiropractor/kinesiologist would tell me the same thing. It seemed I had a tendency to hold my breath when I was working, cutting stencils or drawing and it was causing me a lot of physical discomfort in the way of muscle pain. I had to relearn to breathe, to make breathing part of the act of drawing or cutting stencils. Yoga has been very helpful for that. That it helps emotional states too is no surprise. How can your emotional body be whole if your physical body is impaired. Breathing is one of the ways we rid the body of toxins.

Reya Mellicker said...

It's so elemental. I don't get why we hold our breath when stressed out, though. Seems like, instinctually, we would breathe more deeply. Odd.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

thanks i needed that reminder to be more mindful of my breathing....

you'd be loving our weather today!

Janelle said...

oooooooooooh yes! thanks for the reminder...will practise... x j

Jo said...

The tall, black, gorgeous, light-filled man who brought me through the home births of all four of my children was an osteopath, and I'm forever grateful to his healing spirit for teaching me to listen to my body.

Thank you for the opportunity to remember him today and to praise his loving approach to medicine.

Keep breathing, dear friend.

Reya Mellicker said...

Jo you chose wisely! One thing my osteopath loves to do is treat newborns. He describes them as 'bags of water.' Still, the way their heads are cranked backwards during birth can be traumatic, and lead to ear infections in infancy - or so he says. Did you doctor treat your kids after birth?

Butternut Squash said...

Breathing deeply right now! Thanks for the reminder. I love the snow at night sparkling in the light as it floats gently to the ground.

Cole said...

I use to walk around going about my day or night apparently holding my breath or so it felt, suddenly I would feel so uncomfortable by the pressure that had built within my chest that I would panic, "Oh yeah - breathe", then I would take a deep breath and feel amazed by it all. I guess this breathing thing, thankfully works on its own :) , but when you direct a little more conscious thought to it and take those peaceful, long, deep breaths, you become transformed. I know that know and try to stay in tune to it every day, multiple times a day. Not that my life requires deep breaths to get through, LOL, but it sure helps and feels good too! So glad you can breathe....

Meri said...

Breath is something we usually don't even think of. . . until we find it constricted or problematic somehow. So happy to hear you are back on track and breathing in the fullness of life.

California Girl said...

Between you and Nancy @ Life in the Second Half, I am reminded to deep breathe almost every day, something I know to do but tend to forget the minute I stress. Shallow breathing is something I'd like to lose this year.

Vicki said...

What a calming post today...Love this. Breathing right now...Thank you!

Reya Mellicker said...

Vicki - I'm impressed that you have time to breathe. Tiny heart.

steven said...

i remember i was in high school and for gym we got taught hatha yoga. it was like a revelation that all of this stuff connected inside me and that it had some connection to all sorts of other stuff and people and spaces and ideas and then . . . the bigger mindfulness and . . . well then it became a part of me. and then i let it go. part of my getting my self back has been the work in remembering breath. steven

Reya Mellicker said...

Steven, you and me both!

megarotk said...
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