The Breath of Life.

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I wanted to share this with you.  I could not advocate anything more.  Deep breathing is vital to our well-being.

When we are in nature, when we sleep deeply or when we meditate, we breathe deeply and this can enable us to to feel relaxed and calm.  When we are relaxed and calm it impacts our entire body.  Deep breathing signals our brains that we are no longer stressed and we no longer require the amped up body response of fight or flight.

The more stressed we are in our day-to-day the more it impacts our breathing.   It does not take long until we are breathing shallow as a matter of routine.  We don’t even realize that we have stopped breathing into our diaphragm as intended and are only pulling air into chests before expelling it quickly.  It becomes a cycle.  Stress causes us to stop breathing deeply and as we breathe shallow we are reinforcing that we are in stress.

The body’s response to stress is the same as if our life were to be threatened.  Remember those times when you thought there was a monster under your bed as a child, or you thought you heard someone in the house as an adult?  Remember how you stopped (or almost stopped) breathing?  When we live our lives filled with stress our body reacts in the same way.   Our body needs oxygen.  It is vital to our well being.  Stress impacts the central nervous system and causes the hypothalamus in the brain to release cortisone and adrenaline, flooding your body.   From there a whole laundry list of body responses occur as the body tries to compensate for the lack of oxygen occurs, many of which, long term, can end up killing you.

Breathing is life.  Cessation of breathing is death.  It follows that the more deeply we breathe, the more connected to life and health we are.  We give our body, our brains, and our spirits what they need to be able to fully function.

Take the time when you are driving, riding the bus, walking to work, sitting in a meeting … to just consider your breathing.  Check that you are taking air right down deep into your belly.  Practice taking it in slowly, holding it, and slowly releasing.  Relax your body as you exhale, releasing all your tensions.  Let go of your worries.  Just breathe in and out.  As we become more mindful of our breathing, even just for a few minutes each day, we begin to see a noticeable difference.  Just a simple cycle pattern of breathing can reset our batteries and remind us to relax.

Here is the cycle I use:

Become aware of your breath, breathe normally in and out.

1. Breathe in to the count of 10 – slowly.
2. Hold to the count of 10 – slowly.
3. Release to the count of  10 – slowly.
Repeat 1 -3, 3 times.

Breathe normally for a half dozen breaths.

1. Breathe in to the count of 12 – slowly.
2. Hold to the count of 12 – slowly.
3. Release to the count of  12 – slowly.
Repeat 1 -3, 3 times.

Breathe normally.

You can up the number of your count as your ability to breathe deeply improves.  This alone will help you to relax, refocus your mind and therefore help you to concentrate on the task at hand.  The stress and jitteriness that you may feel when you try to meditate or go to sleep often occurs because you are breathing in a very shallow manner.  Using the method I have outlined can also help you to relax your body so that you can focus on meditation or it can help you drift off to sleep.  It is a wonderful, healthy and simple way for you to take back the control of your “self” that our day-to-day stressful lives continually erode from us.

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WORD'S WORTH“So each of us has a choice. You have a choice. Your thoughts can make you and the world around you suffer more or suffer less. If you want to create a more collegial, harmonious atmosphere in your… community, don’t start by trying to change other people. Your first priority should be to find your own quiet space inside so you can learn more about yourself. This includes getting to know and understand your own suffering. When your practice is solid and you’ve already harvested some of the sweet fruits of getting to know yourself, you can consider ways you can make more room to bring silence, deep looking, understanding, and compassion into your… community.”   Thich Nhat Hanh

My Bloodied Panties.

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Yes, we all bleed.

I am not ashamed of the fact.

I just don’t think it is necessary for me to celebrate it by bleeding all over the place so that other women will feel more powerful. Neither do I particularly want to see other women bleed. I accept other women’s word that they bleed. I don’t need to see their underwear or their bed sheets. I don’t polygraph women I meet so that I can sort my friends into “bleeders” and “non-bleeders” and relegate the “non-bleeders” into the ineffective, powerless women pile.

We read about periods all the way back in the Bible and other texts of the time where it was the practice to have women remove themselves from the other people and go off and live in a tent until their period was over. If the Nasty Bleeder’s Movement (aka the Women’s Movement) had been involved, they would have been angry about them being segregated.  They would have fought for the rights of these women to be able to powerfully bleed anywhere they wanted to, including all over the town, the people and their families. Then there would be no need for all this fuss today because we probably wouldn’t even be here. Blood contains germs that can cause serious infections and while women may have experienced euphoric episodes that could be described as powerful, they probably would have wiped out the rest of their people with some kind of plague.  You know .. the heat, no big box of sanitary pads, not a lot of opportunities to bathe … that kind of thing. BUT you can’t argue that efforts to have women celebrate themselves and assert their right to equality by bleeding everywhere would have been more “fair” to the women. Who likes to have to go to a separate tent for a week or more? That seems pretty cruel. After all, apply the Nasty Bleeder’s Movement primary litmus test to the problem and they have a point. Men don’t have to do it.  Go on, say it with a whine.  It sounds much more realistic that way.  Remember, above all else, all women want everything a man has and more.  We want to bleed publicly. Continue reading

I am His Hands. He is My Eyes.

Some people see limits where other people see possibilities.  Some people say, “I can’t” when others always “can.”  Some people give up and others never quit trying.

Somewhere in the pain of life we find our path.  We fight against our circumstances which are always more than we ever knew.  We curse God.  We hurt the people we love the most.  We run until we realize we can never outrun ourselves and there is nothing to do but to sit with those circumstances and learn the lessons.

How lonely we all are in our own lives, swinging away at our demons and fighting off the monsters that stalk us through the night.  How much easier life would be if we could only stop working so hard at keeping up our image that all of life’s lessons seem to assert as the only thing worth fighting for.  We have to be strong.  We have to be successful.  We have to be perfect… even when all we want to do is cry. Continue reading

WORD'S WORTH“The only tyrant I accept in this world is the ‘still small voice’ within me. And even though I have to face the prospect of being a minority of one, I humbly believe I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority.”  Mahatma Gandhi