With all the holiday shopping behind us and a new year about to unfold, it’s a particular good day to take a few deep breaths and focus on the EXHALATION! Breathing is the very first thing we do when we are born, it’s the last thing we do before we die, and yet, in between, we often forget just how important breathing is. It is the one bodily function we perform without thought, yet can alter, if we so desire. Occasionally, we should ALL so desire!
The experts tell me when we inhale we bring oxygen into our lungs, raise our heart-rate and energize ourselves. When we exhale, we eliminate carbon dioxide, lower our heart-rate and relax ourselves. This process goes on continuously without thought. When we stop to practice deep breathing, mindful of the inhales and exhales, we can restore a better quality of health and wellness to our entire being.
Part of the science tells us that practicing deep breathing allows our acids and pHs to return to a balanced state. We all know too much acid can wreak havoc on our digest system. My guess is too little acid, can do the same. When our acids and pHs are in proper balance, we are in a position to achieve a better state of homeostasis, which is where our bodies function best. When we are unbalanced, we set ourselves up for physical and emotional illness. Conversely, when we are in state of homeostasis, we set ourselves up for complete wellness.
There are many times in our lives when we take some good deep breaths and want to fill our bodies with as much fresh oxygen as possible. When we are about to compete in athletic challenges, when we are gearing up to take an academic test, when we are feeling exhausted yet know hours of work are still ahead of us or when the work day has ended, but much holiday shopping still needs to be done…these are all perfect times to take some great big breaths in. When the challenge, the test, the work and the shopping are all over, it’s time to exhale.
Today is a good day to try a little peaceful meditation and spend a little extra time, exhaling. Meditation is NOT religious, it does NOT have to be formal, you don’t need a mantra or a candle or a sacred spot, though they are all wonderful if you enjoy them. Find a comfortable spot, where you can sit upright, yet relaxed. Perhaps you have some favorite calming music (Enya is always a favorite of mine) that you can play, softly.
Simply clear your mind and focus on your breath. At first, don’t try to change it, just focus in on it. Get in touch with the rhythm of your own breath and try to remain free of any other thoughts. Know that your thoughts WILL get away from you, so don’t be harsh or judgemental, just be aware and return the focus to your breath. For today, to calm yourself from all the holiday madness that is now behind us, begin to focus on long steady streams of exhalations. Each time you exhale, allow the stress to leave your body with your breath. You can try adding a mental affirmation, so each time you exhale you think “I am feeling calm, now” or a similar phrase that reminds you to relax.
Too many of us run to the doctor for pills to calm us down. Stress is fact of life. Good stress, bad stress, we ALL experience it. Another fact of life is that stress can make us sick and is definitely a murderer, as well. We all owe it to ourselves AND our loved ones, to find safe, effective ways of managing our stress. Regular exercise is certainly one way as it pumps us with endorphins, or happy hormones. Exercise it the yang in stress reduction. Every yang must have a yin, and meditation, combined with some good exhalations, is the perfect one.
Exhale. Today is a perfect day for some yin. Enjoy it!