When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still.”
This morning I recollected that I last spoke with my mom exactly three months ago today. I went to sleep last night melancholy and woke up melancholy, not knowing that this was the reason for my sadness. I was just sad and I didn't know why. Upon contemplation this morning I realized that I was experiencing the feeling of loss again. This deep, penetrating loss for my mother... and so, I sat with it while I drank a cup of coffee and while I stared at the lake through my dining room window. I just sat there, cried a little, just a little, and then took a deep breath... and then another... and then another.... sigh... breath is so very, very powerful. I was able to get up. I washed my face, put on my clothes and then I walked to work.
I focused on my work and I focused on each step that I took, just trying to be present as I took a step forward in my life. Just trying to make progress. And if I discovered I was living in my past again, I just took another deep breath. And another. And another... breathing deeply helped me heal some more today.
I got a lot done at work and I hurt a little less and I miss her just as much, and that's okay.
In the yogic practice of breath control (or pranayama), the exhale has a special function. While the inhale is stimulating, the exhale is relaxing. While the inhale is about bringing energy into the body, the exhale is about releasing stress, toxins, and pain.
Because of this, you can use conscious breathing as a break in your day just as I did. By focusing on your exhale, you can let go of the past and come into the present with a renewed commitment.
Here's How: Seriously, give it a shot ;)
Sit up in your chair with your feet on the floor and a long spine. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Inhale through the nose, feeling your spine get longer and taller. Tuck your chin a little, remaining humble... Then exhale through your mouth with a deep sigh. As you exhale, visualize the difficult moments of your day moving away from you. Smile some.
Try this for a few minutes anytime you need to let go of something. It can have a profound effect on your emotional and physical health. When I practiced it today I was able to write this blog. I was able to enjoy my walk in the sunlight and the cool northern air in my hair. I was able to cry a little and smile a little and accomplish things that made my life easier and the lives of the people around me easier too. Just by breathing deeply and consciously, I was able to ground a little more in this world and look at it through new lenses. You can too. Just breathe. Give it a shot. And smile.
I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ~ Nelson Mandela