Breathe

One of the most accessible tools we have to help us maintain, or bring us back to, those feelings of relaxation, peace, and wellness experienced post-massage (or post-craniosacral or Reiki treatment) is to be mindful of our breath. I’ve talked about this before, along with some resources, here.

Our breath is with us no matter where we are or what we’re doing. It’s so much a part of us, that we tend to take it for granted. Most of us do not maximize the healing potential of our breath.

So how do we do that? Sure, there are meditation practices and breathing exercises we can do, but those usually involve setting aside a certain amount of time in our day to practice. And while I certainly believe dedicated practice is an important aspect to learning to breathe more fully, I think we can start out even simpler than that.

In fact, we can start right now.

Stop.

Right now, in this very moment, take a breath in. Inhale deeply, feeling your belly expand and your chest fill. Exhale FULLY. This part is very important! Gently contract your diaphragm (or your stomach muscles) to push ALL of the air out of your lungs. You’ll be surprised how much more air there is to be released beyond what you’re used to exhaling! Now relax your stomach muscles and feel your body naturally fill with a nice deep inhale, like a vacuum sucking in the air.

How do you feel? I just timed myself doing that and it took just under 20 seconds.  20 seconds. In one minute, you could take 3 of those breaths. Personally, I feel more centered, more aware, more focused. My brain feels clearer, my body feels calmer. And that was from just one breath!

We have so many reminders in our day to be mindful of our breath. Use your breath to help you respond (rather than react) to negative or challenging situations. Use it to be more present in the moment, so you can more fully enjoy the positive and fulfilling experiences in your life. You don’t have to keep your attention there forever. Just take one breath. Maybe even 2 or 3. And then respond or enjoy as appropriate.

So try it out…

When you feel tired, breathe.
When you feel eye fatigue from staring at a computer screen, close your eyes and breathe.
When you feel nervous, or anxious, breathe.
When you feel irritated with someone, before you react or snap back with words or actions you may regret, breathe.
When your attention is drawn to the beauty of a landscape, breathe.
When you’re with people you love, breathe.
When you’re taking part in a hobby or something else you enjoy, breathe.
When someone tells you they love you, breathe.

Breathe.  Let your life be a meditation.

Be Well ~ Christina

Finding your way to counterbalance stress

In my practice, I have many people seeking out Massage Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, and Reiki because of anxiety and stress and the psychological and physical ailments that come along with those.  Stress, especially on-going stress, can impact our body in some pretty serious ways.  This article from WebMD explains how the major systems of our bodies respond to stress.  What Stress Does to Your Body

I love being able to assist others in ‘resetting’ their minds and bodies; to relax, unwind, and hopefully counterbalance some of these negative effects. It’s amazing to hear someone’s breathing become deeper as they relax on the table; to feel the muscles of their neck soften in my hands; to sense the shift in their energy when they exit the treatment room.  And I am also sure to receive these treatments on a regular basis as part of my own self-care.

The problem is that once we leave that treatment room, the cell phone is turned back on and we immerse ourselves back into the world of “doing”. We are once again swept up into the stress of our daily lives, looking forward to the next time we can lay on that treatment table for 60-90 minutes.

We can’t always eliminate stress from our lives (as nice as that would be!), but we can find ways to manage it and lessen its impact. Receiving bodywork on a consistent basis is one way we can do this.  But there are many things we can do in our homes or on our own that can also help us counterbalance stress.  Things like meditating, gardening, exercising, getting involved in a hobby, etc. The important thing is to find what works for you. For me, spending time in the woods, hiking or simply sitting in the grass or on a large rock, is one of my favorite ways to balance the busyness of my life. How about you?