Breathing In Solitude

Don’t surrender your loneliness

New Hemispheres Series by Pamela Sukhum

So quickly.
Let it cut more deep.

Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice
So tender,

My need of God
Absolutely
Clear.

by Shams al-Din Hafiz

 

Within solitude is found the deepest expression of our heart and soul….and it is here that we know ourselves as the fabric woven by God.

Being alone seems different from seeking solitude.  The first happens spontaneously most every day of our lives either physically, or in an emotional state of being.

The second occurs when we mindfully seek out a space within and without for reflection and deep inner rest – a refuge if you will within the state of loneliness.  Hafiz speaks of the state of loneliness as a rich source of communion with God/or source,  and asks that we not discard or run away from it, but allow it to ferment.

Breathing within this state of solitude takes on new and expanded dimensions as our focus shifts from external concerns and stimuli to watching the breath take form and shape moment to moment.  We may come face to face with the patterns of breathing that block us from vibrant life, or perhaps we watch as the small shallow breath drops softly down into the belly and brings us back to why we are here – back to our dreams and captive creative longings that can often be just a backdrop in the fabric of our lives.

In this place of solitude place your hands on your belly now and feel the warmth melt the hard protectiveness into a soft receptacle for the breath.  Allow this soft belly breath to remind your ribcage and chest to expand in all directions.   Watch, wait – even for just a moment in the life that stretches out before you – and know that it is now in this place of solitude that gifts are to be found.  Do not struggle.  Open the gate and walk barefoot on the soft path before you.   Be still…..and allow yourself to be breathed.

 

 

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Quiet Time – Living At The Center Of Our Lives

This past week I received my Daily Om which is often just what I need to reflect on for the day.  Living life in these times can be challenging, as it feels we are in the midst of one of the most powerful shifts on all levels that has ever been experienced.  It is an honor to be alive at this time….and it is also a time in which we can be pulled out of our center and off of the path that we have chosen by the daily stimulus that comes at us from every side.

To “be quiet” within ourselves, at least for some moments every day, is a practice which sustains our authentic being and fuels the manifestation of our dreams.  Emptying out by just being and breathing can be the juice that brings us back home to the heart and soul of our being….and melts the self imposed barriers to being present for this life that we have been given.

Gratitude to DailyOm for the reminder below:

May 11, 2011
Hovering around the Sun
Avoiding the Center

Quiet time each day is so important, but many are so out of practice that it’s almost unnerving to be in stillness.

“It’s funny to imagine our lives as something we spend a lot of time avoiding, because it seems like that would be impossible to do. Our lives consist of everything we engage in, from showering to sleeping, but also a lot of busy work that distracts us and keeps us from looking at our lives. Experiencing our life from the inside means taking time each day to simply be alone and quiet in the presence of our soul. Many of us are so out of practice that it’s almost unnerving to have a moment to ourselves. As a result, we may have stopped trying to carve out that time to take a seat at the center of our lives.

One of the reasons it can be uncomfortable to sit with ourselves is because when we do, we tend to open ourselves to an inner voice, which might question the way we’re living or some of the choices we’re making. Sometimes the voice reminds us of our secret, inner yearnings, dreams we thought we had forgotten. When we already feel overwhelmed by our busy schedules, the idea of hearing this voice can be exhausting. However, its reflections are the chords that connect us to our authentic selves, and they are the very things that make our lives worth living. When we continually avoid connecting with our life, we risk losing out on the very purpose of our existence.

To begin the process of being more present and less absent in your life, you might want to set aside just a few minutes each day to simply sit with yourself. This doesn’t mean watching a movie or reading a book, but taking time each day for self-examination to avoid the avoidance, to be with yourself in an open way. After a while, you may start to enjoy this part of the day so much that you make less busy work for yourself, so that you can spend more time at the center of your own life, rather than hovering like a planet around the sun.”

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The Most Important Breathing Space Of All

On this day, in celebration of the role of motherhood bestowed upon many of us, I took a walk out into nature.  Reflecting on the richness of having given birth to 3 unique and amazing sons and having been given birth to by my own mother into this lifetime,  I walked softly down the country road listening to, feeling into,  and seeing the natural order of things all around me with immense appreciation and gratitude.

The sound of wind,  vast clouds with spaces of blue sky and sun peaking through, rivers flowing strongly from the abundance of rain, Spring flowers doting the grasslands, trees magnificent in their leafing out, bird song abounding, baby lambs all nestled together  – all of the elements collaborating to bring balance, wealth and meaning to our lives.

This is our breathing space – the space of the largest and most important mother we shall ever know.  Because of her we BREATHE.  Because of the intricate interconnection of all life here on this planet we exist at all.

Let today be a celebration of all that is “mother” to each and every one of us – human, all species, nature, and cosmos.  The mystery of it all would astound us even more if we knew exactly how everything dances together on our behalf.

We are indeed the ones we have been waiting for.  It is in our hands, minds, hearts and souls to protect and bring back into balance that which gives us life….the most important Breathing Space of all – Mother Earth.

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Many Paths to Stillness of the Breath

“When the breath is irregular, the mind is also unsteady; but when the breath is still, so is the mind.” ~ Pradipika

I start with this quote as I am going to venture a bit away from it…well maybe way off from it.  But not really, because after practicing the primate Hu Breath I do believe that there will be so much opening in your body, that the return to stillness will be automatic -and deeper – and all irregularities will simply vanish!  There are many paths to reach a destination I say…

However, you may find yourself laughing with abandon before you finish this little practice.  Caryn McHose and Kevin Frank have written a delightful book called, How Life Moves, Explorations in Meaning and Body Awareness.  The book literally fell off my shelf today as I was sorting through books I want to keep in my move to Austin, and those that I will be gifting away.  Let’s just say that I will be keeping this one!

Directions follow which come straight from the book. This practice is the invention of Emilie Conrad, the founder of Continuum.

To do the Hu Breath, start by sitting comfortably on the floor, on a chair, or atop a physioball.  Breathe through your mouth.  On each exhale make a “ha” or “hee” or “hu” sound.  Breathe continuously in and out, moderately quickly, creating a visible pumping of the belly and letting the mouth experiment with different Simian expressions.  (that means monkey movements and sounds my friends!)  Allow the rhythm of the breath to pulse the body.  Play with the movement using an imagined sense of monkey and jungle persona to inspire the shapes of the movement.”

Personally I suggest that if you have a physioball, use it (bouncing is absolutely delicious!), as it creates another element to freeing your body and breath into movement freedom and instant laughter!  Breathing Spaces are only limited if you inhibit them….so I say go for it today and try on something completely different.  (even though I suspect that for some of you this will be just normal everyday behavior!)  Enjoy and let me know how you feel!!

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Breath of Flight – Ride The Wave

“Life is in the breath.  One who half breathes, half lives.”  Chinese Proverb

As I write this 1,000’s of feet up in the air in a plane, taking a deep breath seems to take on a very different set of life skills.  Why is that?  Recycled air, crunched seating with one’s body confined to a very small area of moving room, cabin pressure, and oh those little tiny bathrooms that when toilets are flushed you wonder if you just might be sucked down and out into the wild blue yonder!

This post is dedicated to the deep diaphragmatic breath.  I call it the breath of flight, not only because I am writing this confined to that little tiny seat and breathing recycled air, but because I believe that this breath assists us to take flight in our lives.

Used in many different situations, this deep breath marks moments when we are reminded that we are indeed biological creatures that need air to function.  Often we find ourselves taking a deep breath because all of a sudden we realize that we have not been breathing at all…or I guess I should say very shallowly.  For periods of time when focused on something outside of our bodies – which is often by the way – we hold our breath.

How in the world can we remain more conscious to breathe fully with all of our primary breathing muscles instead of secondary ones?  Most people use secondary breath muscles which are the muscles of the front of the neck, pectoralis muscles in the chest, sternocleidomastoid, and the upper trapezius.

What are not used as often are the primary muscles of breathing which include the diaphragm, intercostal (between the ribs) and the abdominal muscles that are meant to give us that full-bodied breathing experience that our bodies innately crave.

Awareness is the key here.  What if we took Breath Awareness Breaks (BAB’s for short) instead of coffee breaks?  Might we feel more enlivened, relaxed, peaceful, focused and creative?   The daily practice of rhythmic (wave-like) diaphragmatic breathing with gradual and equal prolongation of the inhalation and exhalation will enhance the body’s ability to experience a sense of deep relaxation and rest, free of stress and strain, and with a marked feeling of calm and peace.

Diaphragmatic Wave Breath Practice:

*Sit upright in a chair with both feet on the floor or ground, or lay down with something under your knees and head if necessary.  (No the latter position will not work in the airplane!)

*Place your hands on your legs palm side down, if you are seated.  If lying down rest your hands on your belly to encourage the inhale to expand there first.

*Take 3 deep breaths with mouth slightly open and relax – feeling the stress exit your body and the toxic mental chatter drain away. Let your body relax/soften into the chair, or the surface you are lying on.

*Inhale completely through your nostrils with your mouth closed allowing the lower abdomen/stomach area to push out/rise up as the air moves in.  (contraction of diaphragm – it moves down.)

*Exhale completely through the nostrils releasing all of the air out and drawing the naval (belly button) down towards your spine and up under the ribs. (relaxing of diaphragm – it relaxes back up.) The wave of breath unfolds itself to the shore of the next pause.

*Do this practice in a series of 7 breaths.  Rest for 2 minutes while being aware of your breathing and how you feel in your body, mind and emotions.  Repeat the process two more times.

This breath massages all of the internal organs, encourages the movement and flow of the lymphatic and vascular systems,  – and of course exercises the respiratory system which requires moment to moment workouts to keep it healthy and strong.

This is especially important when we are sitting for long periods of time or inactive physically.  Next time that you fly, whether in an airplane or on your next stepping off of the proverbial cliff for a life change flight, put your attention on the wave breath and see what happens.

To become a welcome vessel for the breath is to live life without trying to control, grasp, or push away.”  Donna Farhi, The Breathing Book

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Breathing 101:  We are all breathing in some fashion, even when we are not aware of our breath, but the normal patterns of breathing are usually shallow, restricted, and contain many holding patterns.  These reflect deep imbalances in our systems.  When our breathing patterns are weak, we may have low energy and find ourselves easily fatigued and more emotionally stressed.  When our breathing patterns are deep and strong, we have increased endurance, stamina, and a sense of well-being.

For further information about this 2 hour workshop, please go to the tab above and consider contacting Gaye Abbott, RYT for an experience that will unlock your potential to thrive in life through breath awareness.

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