One simple word. One unconscious act. We do it anyway. Yet sometimes we neglect to realize just how vitally important breathing is.
The other day traveling to my doctor’s office for my annual physical, I was stuck behind—on two different occasions—not one, but two slow moving vehicles. To know me means you know my blood was singing in my veins well on its way to hitting some note that’s off the register; I’m talking higher than a note Rachelle Ferrell can hit in REM sleep.
Why is it when you need to be somewhere at a given time, obstacles pop up invariably slowing down your progress? Good question. Another post; not this one. Now if I’m being truthful, I was running late. Left the house, drove a few blocks, realized I’d forgotten the daughter’s school medical form I needed to drop off at her pediatrician, swung a U. When I finally made it to my appointment, I was ten minutes late. Sat my butt in the waiting room where I remained for another ten. Ask me if I took a breath.
Finally I was ushered into the exam room after all routine procedures were completed with the exception of one. When chick—the nurse—pulled out the blood pressure monitor, I grunted. Literally grunted. I knew what the reading would be. I didn’t need a monitor to tell me a thing; my body already informed me. So before she placed the cuff around my bicep, I drew in a few shallow breaths as if that would help.
185/92. Hmm. Chick looked at me and walked out with “The doctor will be with you shortly” falling from her lips. That afforded me about a minute or two of laughter and a few deep breaths.
When we tense up, our breathing is stilted if not halted for a time and bizarre things take place in our bodies. If you’re in tune with your body you’ll notice, almost immediately, the subtle and not-so-subtle changes. We can attribute this tense state to numerous factors and variables: stress, anxiety, worry, career pressures, deadlines, an overactive mind and, even slow a** drivers. The moment you feel off kilter, edgy, or antsy, it is important to consciously breathe—draw deep breaths in and out through the nose. This act alone is a calming and centering one.
Sometimes early in the process, my mind has yet to quiet. Distractions vie for attention. As a result, my breathing is shallow. I repeat the breathing technique until I’m able to draw in deep, full breaths that naturally lift my chest and expand my lungs before slowly releasing. So wherever you are, I’d like you to close your eyes and breathe with me. A deep, slow breath in through your nose, hold for a count and out, slowly releasing the breath through your nose. Let’s try that a few more times. After a few minutes, notice the difference you feel in mind, spirit and body.
Consider incorporating this technique into your daily routine. It does wonders. When time permits, find a quiet space, sit in a comfortable position, back straight and begin this breathing exercise. Be sure to empty and quiet your mind of all noise and distractions. The stresses will still be there when you’re done, but now you’ll be in a calmer place to deal with them or perhaps, have a new perspective on how to. In addition to rocking the proverbial ‘S’ on her chest, she is also rocking the word ‘breathe’ as a gentle reminder to do so.
By the way, the two readings my doctor took on either arm were met with approving nods. 112/70. Go Michelle! Now back to my car. Damn! Just breathe.
* Originally posted at BlackHairKitchen.com on January 28, 2013 *