I had coffee with an acquaintance a couple of months ago. Meg is a licensed professional counselor who integrates sound and energy in her therapy. We were talking about life and her professional occupation, as well as her hopes and dreams, and I felt compelled to tell her that I think she should do a seminar on “Breathing Outside The Box”.
Most of us have heard the expression, “thinking outside the box”. When we “think outside the box”, we choose to look at situations, and people, from a perspective different from how we normally “see” things. Processing in another way might result in an unconventional view or a more creative way of thinking, where you’re not constrained or “boxed in”. For me, “breathing outside the box,” means taking the time to hear our breath, to slow down and be aware of breathing in and out, purposefully, in order to honor and acknowledge the breath we take for granted everyday.
A friend of mine has been trying to help me with my sleeping challenges by teaching me to create a place where my heart and mind are in balance. This process involves breathing along with your heart rhythms, which is different from the shallow way many of us breathe. I used a program on my Mac where I had a sensor clipped onto my ear. On the screen it showed how my breathing was doing. Let me tell you, this is NOT an area I’ve even begun to master (I usually got a beep that let me know that I’m not “in the zone”). Linda, too, is a licensed therapist and knows more about the brain than anyone I’ve ever met. She believes in an integrated approach within a spiritual framework.
Breathing sounds so simple doesn’t it? But, like everything that’s going on in the amazing bodies we walk around it, it’s a process.
(disclaimer: for any medical professionals reading this, I know the following explanation is quite pedestrian but medicine is certainly NOT my specialty)
- When we inhale, cilia (little hairs inside our nostrils) catch particles of dust. If that dust isn’t stopped there, the cilia in the trachea (a tube that the air passes through) steps up and stops it from getting to the lungs.
- Next, the diaphragm (a muscle across the ribcage) contracts, the ribcage lifts and THEN, that precious air goes through all the branches in our lungs to fill up the alveoli (air sacs).
- Oxygen then goes through the alveoli’s walls and into the capillaries where it enters the red blood cells in each blood vessel.
- Blood carries oxygen to the heart, which then pumps all that blood to every cell in our body.
- The red blood cells empty the load of oxygen and pick up carbon dioxide, from the cells, for the return trip to the lungs.
- That carbon dioxide is carried by the red blood cells in the capillaries to the alveoli.
- There it’s emptied into the air that leaves our body when we exhale.
- Exhaling involves the diaphragm and the muscles between the ribs relaxing, as air is pushed out of the lungs, up through the bronchioles, bronchi (more passageways), the trachea and out our nose or mouth. WOW!
It bears repeating. Breathing is something so many of us take for granted.
When you see someone using a ventilator to help her breathe, you may stop and think, “Wow, I sure am fortunate that I can breathe on my own”. Maybe you know someone with asthma, or perhaps you’ve been so upset that you felt like you couldn’t “catch your breath”. When not enough oxygen gets to all of our cells, our bodies don’t work at their best. We feel “short of breath”; we don’t have the energy we need to do the things we want (or have) to do.
On Saturday and Sunday we were working outside on a tree house we’re building for our grandkids. My allergies were raging and I was having a bit of trouble breathing. It caused me to pause long enough to think and honor how easy it is for me to breathe on most days.
About six months ago, I attended a Heart Rhythm meditation workshop another close friend offered. At the workshop, Kate was teaching us how to breathe in sync with our heartbeat. Kate is a holistic healer who too is a licensed professional counselor. She speaks the language of healing and works with people who have suffered traumatic experiences. Being conscious of your heartbeat, and breathing “with it”, is a powerful experience.
If you feel like you’re a pressure cooker about to blow, or you become aware that you’re caught in a cycle of repetition- doing the same thing over and over without even thinking about it, hit “pause”. Observe what you’re doing both physically and mentally.
Think about what you’re doing.
Then breathe, inhaling and exhaling purposefully.
Without taking the time to BREATHE and THINK, you keep doing the same things and keep getting the same results. It’s easy for me to say this because I truly believe it’s so important. It’s NOT so easy for me to do this because I’m often not purposeful about “breathing outside the box”.
In 2009 the band Pearl Jam released a song titled “Just Breathe”. These are the first two verses:
yes I understand that every life must end
as we sit alone, I know someday we must go
I’m a lucky man to count on both hands
the ones I love
some folks just have one, yeah, others they got none,
stay with me
let’s just breathe
The lyrics are obviously open to different interpretations, but I read this as a “love song”. I love the simplicity of these words, “let’s just breathe”. While we have the time, while we’re gifted with this life, let’s breathe. Let’s breathe consciously. Let’s “breathe outside the box”.
Now, I KNOW it’s not a coincidence that I have women like Linda, Kate and Meg in my life. I also know that, if we’re open to it, we “call to ourselves” the people and experiences that we desire. One benefit of the aging process has been the ability (or perhaps more accurately the “permission given”) to explore and challenge and seek ways of living that aren’t always “inside the box”. Breathing is just one of those.
©2014 peace full home™/intentional living