You are not an equation to be solved. You are a soft being to be loved. Self-care is not about treating yourself as problem to be fixed, because you are not. You are a vulnerable human. You are a glorious expression of the whole universe.
Which means that your practice: of self-care, of spirit (however you define it), of your humanity needs to be personal.
It will not look the same as mine. It may not even look the same as yours, day to day. Which is why breathing is such a blessing. Your breath already belongs to you. There is no one who will ever be a greater expert in your breath than you are.
With this inner knowledge, along with a toolbox full of breathing practices, we can approach every moment, every mood, every breath as an experiment in our own being. There is a practice for everyone and for every one of those moods.
The inhale tends to be more energizing. The exhale more calming and grounding. The breath through the left nostril tends to create more ease, while the right tends to create more vitality. Breathing can happen in slow, steady breaths, or quickly and with more vigor. We can combine all of these elements in order to create different effects in the different layers of the body.
The physical body, mental body, emotional body, energetic body, and spirit all respond to breath.
Through the breath, we can create deeper sleep, more focus, greater joy, increased calm, a sense of grounding. Most of all, we are crafting connection with the present moment. Through mindfulness of the breath, first and foremost, we come to a sense of presence in this moment, in this physical place, wherever and however we find ourselves.
This ability to connect with the present allows us to show up for ourselves, unconditionally.
When we choose to wake up to the experience of our breath, we are waking up to our experience of being human. Regardless of our passing mood (and all moods do eventually pass), our breath can support us.
It can offer comfort. It can take the sting out of what we experience. Or it can deepen the felt sense that we are holding in that moment.
Best of all, our breath can help us recognize our own humanity.
That seems big, and kind of nebulous, though. In the real world, and in real-life situations…
How else might our breath support us?
In moments of:
- Panic attacks
- Runaway multi-tasking
- Mid-afternoon slumps
- Lack of focus
- Motion sickness
- Dearth of creativity
- Travel discomfort
(This is an incomplete list, just from my own personal experience.)
Now, lest you think this is all bluster, that breath is just woo-woo, I’ll leave you with this:
UCSF conducted a medical study in which it measured the impact of yogic breathing practices, like those I teach, for people going through chemotherapy treatment. As compared to their peers who did not experience yogic breathing practices, those who did experienced fewer instances and less severity of depression, anxiety, and insomnia.