Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Breathing with Intention

Written by Jessie


"Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. " 
          ~Thich Nhat Hanh


I could smell summer raindrops hitting warm pavement and I could feel a breeze on my skin. I could hear the laughter of my children as they speedily rode their bikes through fresh mud puddles. I took in a deep breath and slowly exhaled, holding on to the moment…

It was there, amidst the syncopation of sounds and feelings that I began to understand what Unplugging truly meant for me.

The Breath of Life

Inspiration n. in·spi·ra·tion
     1. Something inspired, as an idea.
     2. A result of inspired activity.
     3. The drawing of air into the lungs; inhalation.

    Breathing is a vital activity, affecting every aspect of our functioning bodies and minds. 

    In my massage therapy practice, I ask my clients how aware they are of their breathing pattern. I inform them of the numerous health benefits of deep breathing, (increased relaxation, reduced stress, lower blood pressure, increased endorphins, stress management and understanding of the body, etc.) and I also educate them on the emotional benefits as well (peaceful parenting, savoring the moment, increased awareness and the ability to better navigate through life). 

    During massage treatments, I coach my clients through deep breathing exercises to help them relax and focus in on their body as I move through the treatment.

    Breathing with Intention: Practicing Simple Cleansing Breaths 

    Deep breathing is easy with these simple steps:
    1. First, sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Allow your body to relax. Draw your attention to your breath. Is it shallow? Low? Rushed? 
    2. Next, inhale deeply through your nose, filling your lungs to the brim. 
    3. Exhale fully, releasing as much air as you can.* 
    4. Deeply inhale again, and this time, focus on extending your belly and ribcage in all directions. Are your inspiration muscles tight? Can you feel them stretching with each breath? Don’t worry, the more you practice, the faster they stretch, allowing room for fuller breaths. 
    5. Exhale—forcing out as much air as you comfortably can.
    6. Continue breathing deeply. Have you begun to notice a change in how you feel? 
    *Tip: Follow the natural cues of your lungs. If you are feeling lightheaded, allow for a greater pause in between breaths. 
      The longer you sit and breathe with intention, the greater and longer lasting the health and emotional benefits become.


      “Focusing on the act of breathing clears the mind of all daily distractions and clears our energy enabling us to better connect with the Spirit within.” –unknown 

      Inhaling for the Senses: Building a Practice


      If you have 5 minutes in your car or at your desk:
      • Close your eyes.
      • Take one deep breath, fill your lungs to the brim, and exhale. 
      • Be aware of the calming sensation going through your body.
      • Repeat twice.
      • Enjoy the extra oxygen!

      If you have 10 minutes (or more!):
      • Silence your phone/TV/computer.
      • Find a comfortable place to sit.
      • Slowly, take three deep, cleansing breaths. (If you have a favorite essential oil, you can dab a few drops on a tissue and inhale the aroma through your nose.)
      • Listen to the sounds around you. Try not to think about what is going on—simply listen.
      • Repeat as time allows.
      Taking It Further:
      Couple your deep breath with these activities and awaken your senses:
      • Open a window and listen to the outside world.
      • Eat your favorite fruit with your eyes closed.
      • On your next walk, pause for a cleansing breath and savor the moment.
      • Stand in the shower and feel the water as it runs over your body. 
      • Use an aroma diffuser and fill your home with the aroma of your favorite essential oil.
      • Take a cleansing breath as you tuck into bed for the night. Take another as you wake in the morning.
      • Add a simple hum with your voice on your exhale. Om…

      Cleansing Breaths and Unplugging 

      A simple, deep breath can create a calming energy within. I frequently use cleansing breaths throughout the day to clear mental space, calm my nerves and bring me back to center.

      Cleansing breaths are also a great way to “inhale the moment” and pick up on the special bits of life that can so easily pass us by. By approaching life with an open awareness of our breath, we can enrich our quietest moments and give a simplified perspective to our busiest moments. Intentional breathing truly is a way to reconnect with ourselves, our environment, and our spirit. 

      The next time you feel flustered or simply want to extend a precious moment in time—Inhale. Exhale. Enjoy.

      How do you incorporate “breathing with intention” into your life?

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