It has been quite a week, make that a month. Like I’ve said before, I am an optimist. An optimist and what I have dubbed: a solution finder. Basically that means I always try to see the best in the world and when an issue comes up, rather than getting all worked up or wrapped up in drama, I simply go to finding “solutions” to take care of the issue…rework the path for merely a slight detour instead of getting stopped in a construction zone. However, sometimes things build up so much that even my optimistic nature and solution finding abilities start to crumble a bit; I have found myself in a situation this week.
I think my limit happened last Thursday evening when we had to rush my son to the ER to get stitches. Man, the look in his eye when they held him down to put 5 stitches between his eyes…I think that scene (and his face when he initially got hurt) will haunt me for quite awhile. But in the end, it’s not just this one event that has taken it’s toll on me, but rather all of the recent events that seem to have put a vice on my heart and a weight on my shoulders. So what to do…The answer came yesterday evening when I went out to sit on my front steps for a few minutes, all by myself: I need some time alone to just be. Being out in nature with nothing going on around me except the wind blowing in the trees allowed me to just sit and breathe; breathe in calm and peace and exhale out the tension and stress I was holding onto. I finally felt some of the weight being lifted off my shoulders and as though I could re-center myself. The 5 minutes I had definitely wasn’t enough so in the evening, after my tennis lesson (I picked up tennis lessons after my daughter was born for something fun to do), I went for “a drive”. I had the windows down and drove through all the pretty streets in my area. No music. No phone. Just the gentle breeze and warm night air coming in through the windows. And I realized here how easy it is to get caught up in the chaos of life; to always have something going on to distract us from just being, centering, and connecting with ourselves. In this day and age we are constantly bombarded with information, noise, activity, technology, etc. that even when we have a few moments with “nothing to do” we fill it up! But, the thing is, sometimes it’s in the simplicity of the silence that we can find peace.
This week, I encourage all of you to give yourself a few minutes to just sit and be. Sit outside or sit inside, it really doesn’t matter (although outside adds in the meditative component of watching the breeze in the trees, the birds chirping, etc.); the key is to put away all of your distractions and just breathe. Breathe in the silence, the calm, and all the potential life holds; and breathe out whatever is running you frazzled or weighting you down.
This will be our exercise of the week. Although it doesn't seem like much, learning how to breathe properly takes effort and dedication, just like toning your arms or your backside. We will do this exercise standing but you can do it just as easily from a seated position.
Start with your feet about hip width apart; roll you pelvis forward slightly feeling the lengthening in your lower back. Pull your belly in, open and lift your chest, and relax your shoulders. Feel your feet grounding you to the Earth and the crown of your head lifting up to the heavens. Maintaining this position, inhale thru your nose, breathing all the way down into your lower lungs; this means your shoulders should stay stationary while your floating ribs (bottom ones) expand out. Pause at the peak of the inhale, feeling the expansion in your body. Now, slowly exhale from your belly, sighing out any tension or stress, centering your body and mind (your exhale should be audible). Continue this breathing, in and out.
Now, as you inhale, reach your arms out to the sides and up overhead, opening your chest as you go. Again, pause at the peak of the inhale, lengthening your spine. Exhale, slowly bringing your arms back down by your sides. Inhale, lengthen; exhale, relax. Repeat for 5-10 breaths. Then, just stand or sit, continuing to fill up your body with good and center back in to yourself. With proper breathing, you should feel at peace and yet invigorated at the end.
Cheers to all of us having a calming and centering week.