Breathing Lessons

The following is a guest post from Roxann Keyes of Center for Life Design.

Our lives are getting busier and busier, full of things to do, places to go and people to see. We often don’t have time for the fun stuff, let alone the stressful, hard stuff.

I find more and more that I am talking to many of my clients about the importance of the breath and breathing properly, because I can see they are holding their breath. It is the simplest way to keep yourself calm during stressful and traumatic times.

There is a saying: “Hold your breath, hold your pain.” The human body, as an organism, is always working toward homeostasis, or balance. When we don’t address the things we should, our body will. If we don’t manage our stress, our bodies will give us pain, either physically or emotionally, in the form of headaches, stomach aches, anxiety, depression, overwhelm, fatigue etc. as a way to make us slow down and pay attention.

When we hold our breath, our breath is shallow and we use our chests to breathe, actually also use our neck muscles to help us breath. This makes any neck, shoulder issues worse and creates even more tension.

Chest breathing keeps us in the sympathetic nervous system—the stress response fight, flight, freeze. Instead, breathing from our belly engages the parasympathetic nervous system—relax, digest, restore.

What is the proper way to breathe and why is it so important?

The proper way to breathe is to bring the breath all the way down into the belly. Rest your hand on your belly. Your hand should rise and fall with the breath, as if you were blowing up your belly like a balloon. It is easiest to practice this at night when you are laying down, before you go to sleep. Taking a full belly breath engages the diaphragm, which, when engaged, massages the internal organs and helps them do their job better. This allows the neck and shoulder muscles to relax and release their tension. Belly breathing also allows us to be calm and stay calm so we can make better decisions.

To create different patterns of thinking, behaving and produce different results, we need to go into the unknown, do something we haven’t done before. We must do what we are most likely afraid to do to make and have a change in our lives, only this will give you a different experience. A daily practice of proper breathing is the simplest way to start. A start to healing, a start to change.

Mind Training Basics for Resilience Through Difficult Times

The following is a guest post by Rev. Pauline Kaplan, MS, LP.

When we encounter difficult passages in our life through divorce, basic mind training can be a welcome refuge. The idea of refuge instantly brings a sense of relief to our soul and hope to our spirit. Modern mystical practices regularly inspire this “refuge” through an inner perspective of training the mind towards acceptance, contentment and peace. We can tune in like a mystic through four key components of mind training basics.

Basic mind training includes mindfulness, positive outlook, resiliency and generosity.

 

1. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is an attention-training method that teaches the brain to register anything happening in the present moment with full focus, but without reacting. It is a soft presence, aware and recognizing how things are.

 

2. Positive Outlook

A positive outlook quietly shifts negative thoughts and attitudes towards life working out for the good of all. The glass is half full—even if we don’t feel positive—our long view holds the heart of life eventually looking up and working itself out. It is much healthier for the body as well.

 

3. Resiliency

Resiliency is the ability to regain your center after being knocked for a loop. There are many factors that contribute to resiliency and some may thwart resiliency such as abuse and addiction. Staying healthy, lifting the corners of your mouth in a gentle smile and looking upward toward the ceiling with your arms in the air are a few instant mood lifters. Self-care is key to a resilient mind and body.

 

4. Generosity

Generosity keeps your heart tuned, not just to handling your own circumstances of suffering, but to offer something to another, thus demonstrating a prosperous spirit. Sometimes generosity is more like a martial artist. Getting out of the way of another’s negativity, lack and judgement brings spaciousness to all parties. A natural generosity arising from doing less.

 

Mind training might be easier than you think by playing with these basic but profound tools of consciousness. A refuge from the waterfall effects of divorce can be yours while you create your future more imbued with positivity, generosity, resiliency and mindful awareness.

(Reference: The Emotional Life of Your Brain-Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D.)

You’re Confused? Hooray!

Lately I’ve been quite confused. It’s not the usual confusion of wondering why I walked into a room, or where I put my car keys when I’m holding them, or which direction to go when my GPS has recalculated one too many times.

What’s confusing is that I’ve not been myself lately. I’ve been feeling out of sorts. It’s like I’m not able to get traction in my life.

When I shared my feelings with a friend, she clapped her hands together and said, “Hooray!  That’s wonderful!” I responded, “What? Why would you say that?”

“It’s simple!” she said. “You’ve been working hard to discard your limiting beliefs. Now you no longer fit the image you’ve had of yourself and that can be tremendously confusing. But as a result, you’re growing into something new and expanded. That’s wonderful—and truly a reason to celebrate.”

The more I thought about her words, the more comforted I became. Aren’t we all doing our best to learn and grow? Wouldn’t it make sense that the more we discover, the more we will reevaluate our beliefs and discard those that no longer serve us? Wouldn’t it make sense that our insights and understanding expand?

As we embrace more and more of who we truly are, our sense of self and of the possibilities life offers broadens and deepens. And as we begin to redefine ourselves in a more compassionate way, we clarify our purpose and how we choose to journey through life.

May we each continue to learn and grow, and when we experience times of confusion, let’s celebrate!

Your Power is in Choosing Your Thoughts

The following is a guest post by Jennifer Kern Collins.

How you think about life is everything. What you focus on in your mind translates to an emotion. Your emotions are your feedback system, indicating whether what you’re thinking in your beautiful brain is in alignment with what your deeper spirit knows and wants for you— and your spirit always wants what is in your best interest.

Simply put, when you feel good, your human thoughts are in alignment with your spirit. When you feel bad, your mental focus is out of alignment with what this “core essence” part of you knows.

Traversing the chasm of divorce will call you to rely on your deeper resources and invite you to rise up into the next-highest level of your potential, of who you are capable of becoming. Identifying and then intentionally managing your thoughts will support you in this process to no end. And your feelings provide the quickest way to recognize what your thoughts are. Hold more of your attention on the thoughts that feel good and you will empower your Spirit to more effectively help you navigate this huge life transition.

In the midst of my own marital separation, as I recognize which thoughts feel best—or most self-honoring—to me, I know those are the ones guiding me to live in alignment with my Soul’s divine path. Identifying and continuously selecting feel-good thoughts requires a skill set, effort and practice, and it’s so worth it.

Some simple examples to illustrate…

Bad-Feeling: It used to be so good between us.
vs.
Good-Feeling: What’s ahead of me is even better.

Bad-Feeling: I failed in this relationship.
vs.
Good-Feeling: We’ve reach a “completion point” and are simply no longer a match.

Bad-Feeling: I’m never going to make it on my own.
vs.
Good-Feeling: I have more strength, courage and wisdom than ever before, and I know I am capable.

I hold the focus on the good feeling thoughts as much as possible, because I want to be the one to determine my emotional state—not the circumstance or another person. I’m the leader of my life, and I want to deliberately choose how I claim my power, positively influence outcomes and flow through this process.

Plus, if a thought feels positive—even if I don’t completely believe that it’s true (yet)—I know that it’s my spirit affirming, “Aaaamen, Sistah! You are on the path of your highest good!”

While grief, fear and anger are a natural part of concluding a relationship as vital as a marriage, you also have the ability to choose how you want to focus your mind and spend your emotional energy, riding the waves as best you can. This is where your true power lies! The next level of your best self is emerging. The more you can align with things that feel good and self-honoring to you, the smoother your transition will be and the sooner your new glorious chapter can begin.

Relevant

The following is a guest post by Joan Steffend with an introduction written by our founder, Barb Greenberg.

Are there days you feel you don’t quite fit into your life, that you have lost your way or lost your footing? Are there times you feel you are trying so hard and nothing seems to work out? Do you sometimes doubt your value?

Please know you are not alone. Someone recently told me to consider these feelings as “growing pains.” They remind you to pause and to reevaluate. In doing so, you will “grow” into a new understanding and relationship with your life. Please be patient and remember you have more value, more relevance, than words can express. May these words from Joan Steffend comfort you:

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word relevant. Was I? Am I? Could I be? Is it important?

Relevant.
What does it mean? That there’s a place for you.
What does that mean? That you fit in this world, perfectly, just as you are.
What does that mean? That you can let go of the struggle.
What does that mean? That life rises up to support you.
What does that mean? That you can relax.
Relax.
You are relevant, even if others don’t see it or know it.
That is enough.
You are enough.
Now.