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Archive for May, 2010


Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

There are four basic breathing exercises that I would like to share with you.  They are progressive in nature, which means the fourth exercise is more intense and involves more physical releasing than the first exercise.  With each exercise you will be over oxygenating the body, forcing excess oxygen into your muscles, and then releasing tension.  Each exercise involves breathing, holding and releasing.  They can be done in a progression or individually, which ever works best for you.  I would encourage you to experiment.  Know that what works best one day, might not be what works best next week or next year, so keep exploring and rediscovering.

These exercises can help you to get centered and to get present before a meeting.  They can be used to “get the day off” so you can let go of your work life allowing you to transition into your personal life.  While some people may use an alcoholic drink to do this, I don’t encourage people to drink; I do however encourage people to breath.  The exercises can also create a bubble where we can each just quiet our mind and be.  Therefore, you can use them before you sit down to meditate, or before you do a task that requires focus and mental discipline.

To do these exercises, you want to be in a safe place where you will not be disturbed for a few minutes.  They work best while sitting in a chair, on a couch, or on the side of your bed with both feet on the floor.  Do not do these exercises when you are driving, around machinery or anywhere you can get hurt.  If you have a medical condition, it’s always good to check with your Doctor to see if this type of breathing is safe for you.  Always take care of yourself, and don’t do anything you think will hurt you.

First Exercise
Inhale through your nose very deeply, almost to the point of over inhaling, and exhale through your mouth.  These are not short breaths, but long breaths.  This is not a slow inhale and exhale, but rather a quick inhale to the count of 3 to 4 seconds and then an exhale to the count of 3 to 4 seconds.  You want to over oxygenate the body.  You do 5 inhales and 5 exhales.  On the 6th inhale, hold your breath as long as you can.  While you are holding your breath, tighten your shoulders, your arms, your stomach, your buttocks, your legs and your toes.  Tighten and hold.  When you exhale release any tension you might be holding onto and relax your body.  If you are holding a lot of tension, you will feel a rush of energy.  That is the tension you have been holding in your body.  Don’t be afraid of this, it will pass very quickly.

Do a quick scan of your body.  What are you feeling in your shoulders, your heart area, your stomach, your buttocks, your legs, your knees, and your feet?  Be aware of any tension.  Sometime you will feel a pain that you haven’t felt before.  This just means you have dropped to another level of awareness.  Is there any tingling going on?  Tingling usually starts in the feet area.  This means your body is starting to come alive again.  As you progress through each exercise, the tingling tends to move up the legs, into the hip area and then the rest of your body.

Second Exercise
During this exercise you will do the same type of breathing as you did in exercise one.  The only difference is that you will be taking 9 breaths instead of 5 breaths.  You will be taking more breaths because there are some physical movements that are added, thus you need more breathing to help over oxygenate the body.

When you inhale, raise your shoulders up high toward your ears and when you exhale, drop and release your shoulders.  This will help you release any tension that you might be holding in your shoulder area.  At the same time that you are raising and lowering your shoulders, I want you to dig your heals into the floor, push your knees together and push back.  This will help you focus on your lower back and buttocks area.  Many people hold a lot of tension in this area.  Tightening and breathing into this area of the body can be very empowering.

So, putting this all together you will be inhaling, raising your shoulders, digging your heels into the floor, pushing your knees together and pushing back.  When you exhale, you will release and relax all the muscles in your body.

After doing the above for 9 breaths, you’ll inhale one more time.  On the 10th and final inhale, hold your breath and tighten all your muscles.  Hold your breath as long as you can and then release your breath and relax all of your muscles.  Quickly scan your body and notice what you are feeling in your shoulders, your heart area, your stomach, your buttocks, your legs, your knees, and your feet.  Is there a change anywhere?  Are you feeling less tight?  Are you feeling any new pain?  Has the tingling moved up your legs?

Third Exercise
During this exercise you will again do the same type of breathing as you did in exercise One and Two, only this time you will now be taking 12 breaths.

On your first inhalation, push your right fist into your left palm.  Relax when you exhale.  On your second inhalation, grasp your fingertips together and pull apart.  Relax when you exhale.  During this exercise you are externalizing that inner struggle of “Come here – No, go away!”  “Do this – No, Do that!”  “I want you! – No, I don’t want you!”

At the same time you are pushing and pulling, I want you to dig your heals into the floor, push your knees together and push back as you did in exercise Two.

After doing the above of 12 breaths, you’ll inhale one more time.  However, on the 13th and final inhale, hold your breath and tighten all your muscles.  Hold your breath as long as you can and then release your breath and relax all of your muscles.  Quickly scan your body and notice what has changed.  Are there still places you are holding tension?  Are you feeling the tingling in your lower back area?

Fourth Exercise
 For this exercise you’ll want to remove any watches or excess jewelry because you are going to be very physical.

During this exercise you will be inhaling and exhaling through your mouth.  I want you to breathe like you would after you ran a 100 yard-dash.  I want you to breath deep and fast because you will need a lot of oxygen for this exercise.

While you are breathing rapidly, I want you to be stomping your feet on the floor.  I want you to stomp hard enough to make impact, but not so hard that you hurt your feet.  At the same time, I want you to make two fists, and I want you to hit the couch or bed with full force.  Again, not so hard that you hurt yourself, but I want you to hit the bed or couch with a strong impact.  I want you to do this breathing, stomping and hitting process for a few minutes.  There will be a voice inside that will say, “Okay, I’m done.”  Keep going a little longer.  At some point in time, I want you to take a deep breath and hold it.  While you are holding your breath, I want you to keep hitting and stomping.  When you can’t hold your breath any longer, exhale, sit back and relax.

Quickly scan your body and notice what you are feeling.  You will be breathing.  Good job.
At this point, I would like you to repeat the first exercise.  Take 5 deep breathes in and tense every muscle in your body, and hold your breath as long as you can.  Exhale and relax.  Notice what you are thinking.  Your mind will be empty and quiet.  Nice.  It’s possible to go through life with our mind being quiet.  You are now present.  Breathe in and enjoy.

I often hear, “He needs to take responsibility for his actions!”  I think, “Okay.”  But what does it mean for someone to take responsibility for their actions?  Does it mean they need to be punished by themselves or someone else?  That’s what that statement sounds like to me.  That might be true, but I don’t think that is what it means to be responsible for ones actions.

From my point of view the word – responsible – means to have the ability to respond.  So what does that mean?  It means we are to respond to a situation verses react to a situation.  When we react, we don’t think about what we are doing or saying – we’re just reacting.  Much like when someone taps your leg just below your kneecap, your leg reacts and jerks.  It’s a reaction.  There is no thought in that action.  It’s very fast.  I call it the animal part of us that reacts to situations in the primal “fight or flight” syndrome.  Reacting might be good if we are running from some wild animal, but reacting might not be so positive if we are dealing with something someone has said or has done to us.  The main point here is that there is no thinking involved, just action.

If we respond to a situation, then we enter into a process of looking at what was said or done, and we decide how to respond in a manner that will give us the outcome we are attempting to create.  It requires more maturity and discipline to manage the world from this perspective.  It involves engaging the frontal lobes of our brain.  The part of the brain that processes and analyzes information.  It accesses past experiences and attempts to use some type of logic.  Once all the data has been sorted, we make the best decision we can with the information we have and then we respond.  Our response might not always be the best, or get us the results we were hoping for, but with what we know at that moment, it is the best we can do.  As time passes, and as we gain more experiences or wisdom we might respond differently.

In being “responsible” or taking responsibility for our actions, I don’t see punishment as being part of the process.  There might be some learning and expansion of awareness, but not punishment.  Punishment is a very different process.

So, the next time someone tells you to be responsible, stop and think about how you can respond in a way that creates a win/win situation for all concerned.  Look to see if this is one of those wonderful learning opportunities where you get to expand to yet another level of awareness.

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