The Breath of Life.

tumblr_ol64l0bXBx1rnsok6o1_1280

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.

cosmic-breath-of-life

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

My Valentine.

valentine

Here is my heart. I am reaffirming that I intend to invest it into my life and the people that I interact with. It is the best part of who I am. When I can put aside all the noise that distracts me from listening, it speaks to me of truth and hope. It always leads me to the light.

Someday, I hope to be worthy of the heart that I was given, that I might be able to live a life totally devoted to its well-being, but for now, all I can do is to reaffirm that I am working on it. I care about the world around me. I care about the people in it. I care about my friends and family. I care about you.

Someday we may live in a world where everyone lives by the wisdom of their hearts. We might care for one another, support on another, encourage each person to be and do everything they possibly can. It will probably not happen in my lifetime but I do know, unless I do my part here and now, it will never happen.

So, I intend to love. I intend to love even when I am faced with a world filled with hate. I intend to love the unloved and to lift them up in any way I can. I will continue to allow myself to feel love, even when it is so intense that it moves me to tears. Sometimes that experience is one of beauty, but often it is one of great pain. When I see others suffer, I feel so deeply that I know that it is love building a bridge between their experience and mine. There is no separation when love is the bridge that connects us all. We should never be afraid to open ourselves to truly understand other people’s lives. Without that bridge, we are all just weapons that will eventually affect war on each other.

So here is my Valentine’s heart. It is not the love of romance. It is a love more abiding. It is love with connection, with compassion, and with healing. I want to love the world. I want to feel that I am loved in return. I want this for all of us.

Possibilities

Ask a roomful of people to consider a toothpick within a 2 minutes timeframe, to come up with as many uses for it as they can think of, other than the purpose for what it is made, and you will be amazed. The combined ideas will create a long list. Some of the ideas will be common in most people’s responses and some will be unique to maybe one or two people. That group of people will be pleased with their efforts.

Now, if you were to replace those people with a new roomful of people and ask them to do the same thing BUT you show them the first room’s list, you will end up with even more suggestions.

Brainstorming is a very useful tool when a company needs to get the creative juices flowing. It is a great way to stimulate new ideas for answers to problems that are not responding to the usual answers. But this practice also demonstrates how we see things. We often only see the purpose for which we think (our education, our upbringing, our beliefs)it has been created. In the exercises above you will always have those people who struggle to come up with any other ideas, or who produce only a couple more than the original use for which it was intended. And yet others produce a list full of really different ideas that everyone can agree, would work. Should an object not be perfect, it is often considered useless and is discarded. In the example above, if you opened the box and found a broken toothpick, most of us would throw it away. Some might even take the whole box back to the store and demand our money back. Continue reading

Life’s Instructions.

li

1. Have a firm handshake.
2. Look people in the eye.
3. Sing in the shower.
4. Own a great stereo system.
5. If in a fight, hit first and hit hard.
6. Keep secrets.
7. Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen everyday.
8. Always accept an outstretched hand.
9. Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
10. Whistle.
11. Avoid sarcastic remarks.
12. Choose your life’s mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90 per cent of all your happiness or misery.
13. Make it a habit to do nice things for people who will never find out. Continue reading

I Struggle to Speak My Heart

In the light of all that is happening in the world, I find myself sitting alone.  Off in the distance, I can hear the arguing.  I am shocked at the raw emotions of people stripped back of all social pretence.  We are an incredibly ugly, unkind people when we are wounded and backed into a corner.

I think I expected more.  I expected better.

I am trying to hold on to my belief that this too has meaning that will find its way to a better place and it is just my smallness that cannot see.  Forgive me for that.

Instead,  I offer a few findings that speak to my heart, and perhaps will do the same for yours. Continue reading

Setting Lambs Free.

tumblr_nq9wtq53s21sym2bco1_500

I have spent a lot of time examining my belief systems and how and if they have benefited me. I have also seriously considered how and if they have damaged me. Sadly, for the most part, I have to side with the latter.

I have strong clear memories of the many times I was instructed not to do things because it was not what other people were doing. I am not speaking about setting fire to the family dog kind of things, but rather things that were expressions of who I was and harmed no-one like wanting to wear my green pants with an orange top.  The only damage those types of things caused was to my family and their desire to fit in and to appear as “normal” as possible. Success was measured by how well you could do what everyone else was doing, as long as you did it in the same way everyone else was doing it. Life was one big chorus line where, to be perfect, you danced in sync with everyone else and never, ever, drew attention to yourself. I was to be assimilated, to be part of the whole and not an individual.

This, they assured me, was the path to true happiness.

It wasn’t.  It never was and never will be.

The problem with trying to fit in and not being yourself is that you end up with people in your life who can and will destroy you. If I had just been myself there would not have been any ambiguity regarding our compatibility. Those people would have walked a wide circle around me and I would have been better off for it.  Instead of spending so much time in complete pain, destroyed by the many unkindnesses from people who were never going to understand me, I might have found people who were actually capable of loving “me.”

Not because those people are bad people, or I am some precious snowflake, but because we both deserved the kind of love and friendship that actually was intended for our lives.  Instead, we were all forced into a game of engaging one another simply because we paid the admittance price and once paid, everyone gets a ride. Continue reading

No-one Puts Baby In The Corner

boy-corner

We all have our own stories to tell of our childhood, some more damaging than others.  I am still struggling to put together the words that can move the darkness of my childhood into the light, where I can finally and ultimately let it go and set myself free.

Sometimes it is difficult to do that, especially when so much effort was made to keep it all hidden.

But sometimes, it is easy to get stuck on the pain and to allow our anger or our sense of victimhood to wrap around us as if it were our very skin.  We get lost.  We forget who we are, and without the very people who were supposed to love, nurture and protect us, there is no-one to hold on to the memory of who we once were.  Parents are meant to do that.  They are meant to know and understand who we are and to hold that for us while we travel physically and emotionally through life, struggling to find ourselves.  They are meant to be the touchstone of our lives that pull us back to the mirror where they say, “See, you are beautiful.  You are capable.  You are Loved.”

Somewhere in the forest of pain and sorrow that littered my growing up, I grew 8 ft tall and I stepped up to parent myself.  I am not saying that I did everything perfectly.  I doubt I did much of anything perfectly, but I did survive.  Continue reading