January, 2021
Breath, Presence, Respond

“Our breathing is the only system in the body that is both completely autonomic and also under our control. That is not an accident of nature, not a coincidence. This is an opportunity, an invitation, to take part in our own nature–our own evolution.”
Dan Brule

We need to figure out how to be autonomous, sovereign beings who know and operate from a grounded, present place of ultimate truth.

Not just accepting being spoon fed lies, acting as an army of pawns, ultimately just collateral damage in this war hate has waged on love and unity since the beginning of human existence.

Breathing is life force. It allows for clarity, alignment, presence. It helps clear away illusions. It helps get the nervous system calmed so we can RESPOND instead of REACT.

Responding requires a small wait period for the information to reach the pre-frontal cortex/higher thinking areas of the brain (usually gets to places like the amygdala—fear center—first. The fight or flight react centers, first.). A period of inquiry about what is going on internally and externally, an acknowledgment of the relationship between the two is necessary.

Responding is a skill that most of us need to practice, and breath work is a really great tool.

There are two breaths that I like to use. They have calmed me from panic attacks and intense anger alike.

The first is a simple 3 part breath. Most of the time our breathing is shallow, in the chest. Likely because many of us remain locked up in our midsection. Like a rope around the ribcage, a full breath may feel impossible.

But this three part breathing allows the breath to flow into the belly; I heard today to imagine it like high tide. Then expands the ribcage, and only then ends with the chest rising. The exhale is the reverse of that: chest first, then ribcage, then belly, like the ocean receding to low tide.

When I’m emotional or outside of myself, I place one hand on my belly and one on my chest to be an active, conscious participant of bringing my energy back to me, bringing myself back into presence and a response state.

Hands on your body, placed anywhere, allows you to feel you, tangibly. Feel your fabric, your skin, your heartbeat, the rise and fall of the breath. Even just this will help to reground you.

I repeat this breath often for longer than I think I need to, and the results are like a melting away of everything that isn’t me until I’m left with not just my physical body, but the brilliance of my soul.

Breathing in this way becomes meditative and my response becomes crystal clear.

The second breath technique I love is called nadi shodhona which is alternate nostril breathing.

At any given time, we have a dominant nostril, the one that is doing the breathing, and then it switches. This alternate nostril breathing helps to balance the hemispheres and because of the slow speed, allows for a cooling down…two good things when you want to respond with equanimity.

Take your right hand and look at your palm, all fingers open. If you know the Star Trek hand, you can separate your fingers that way. The pointer and middle finger can then either fold in or remain open and placed on your forehead (third eye) while your thumb meets your right nostril and your ring and pinky fingers meet your left nostril.

Exhale from both nostrils and then close the right nostril with the thumb as you inhale only into the left nostril. Close off the left nostril with the ring and pinky fingers at the top of the inhale, holding for a beat or two, and then release the thumb from the right nostril to exhale, holding a beat or two totally empty at the bottom. Inhale back into the right nostril, closing it off with the thumb at the top, and holding a beat or two before you release the left nostril and exhale there, holding a beat or two at the bottom. That is one round.

Do at least 8-10 rounds of this…if you are listening, your body will tell you when to stop.

Breathing in this way, getting quiet and still in this way, will likely also begin to dislodge unaddressed pain points.

Let it. The only way this shit stops is to heal.

“We can only heal what we admit to ourselves is there.”
Deborah Hanekamp | Mama Medicine & Ritual Baths

And that’s an inside job, but one many people are skilled to support. I am happy to be of service in any way possible; the entry points to healing are endless.

Please don’t let the events of yesterday discourage you from your purpose work. This showed me that we have our work cut out for us. But I truly believe love will prevail. Let’s do the work, friends. Let’s do it together.


Photo credit: Max van den Oetelaar

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