Monday, January 23, 2006

Monday, Jan. 23: The Importance of Breathing

Sometimes when I set out to do something all is well. Sometimes, I start with a big charge, and then fizzle. Sometimes I can keep it going pretty steady, and then just have days when I’m not into it.

This is one of those days.

I have a couple of themes: the relationship of diet to health, the necessity of staying present when “working out,” or doing yoga, but I don’t have a real theme.

So,…. What to do? Go away from the computer. Sit it the sun somewhere warm with a pen in my hand and some paper. Set the timer for 35 minutes and either write or just sit there with the paper and pen and if nothing comes, that will be my essay for the day. And if something comes, wallah! I’ll type it in.

If we don’t breathe, we die. If we don’t breathe enjoyably, we don’t enjoy our life. A lot of what we like about things we like is that these activities either loosen our breathing ( laughing, sex, pleasant exercise) or at least distract us from being tense in our breathing ( reading a book, watching a movie or a sports event, puttering in a garden, doing a crossword puzzle even).

If we don’t breathe enough, we feel weak or anxious and it’s very hard to be healthy. This anxiety things is interesting because it has two aspects ( at least). One, the story in our word/imagination/mind. And two, the actual clamping down on our breathing that takes place in our body.

The story can be future (“Ohmygod, I’m going to feel so bad at this party.” “Ohmygod, I’m not prepared for this interview and am going to make a mess out of it.). The story can be a weird confusion of future and past. (“ The bombs went off off when I was in Vietnam. I feel like it might happen again.” “I was mistreated in the past, and it could happen again, in fact, I’m almost sure it will.”).

Or the story can be a denial of the present. ( “I was mistreated back then. And I feel as if it’s happening right now.”).

The way to heal the adverse effects of the story, is to run it through the work of Byron Katie, as I’ve written earlier. The way to help with the breathing shortages is to breathe out more. Breathing in will take care of itself if we can exhale fully.

In Feldenkrais, as in life, there is not one Right Way to breathe out. Here are a couple that can be a great start. Lie down on your back, with your right leg long and your left knee bent, so that knee points toward ceiling or sky, and left foot presses into ground or floor or bed. Push down with the left foot as you tilt your left knee to the right and push out your belly.

In one form, push out the belly and breathe out, pushing all the air out, and thrusting your pelvis toward the tilting knee. As the left leg returns to upright, breathe in by puffing in the chest. Get a strong and full feeling as you press the foot into ground and belly out as the leg tilts and you twist a bit. This is belly out and get strong.

In the other form, push the belly in as you raise the leg, push the belly in and breathe out, as if you want to be as skinny as possible behind your navel. Then when you tilt your leg, let the belly go out and the air come in to fill it. Feel almost as if you are yawning and lazily stretching as you do this. This is belly out and get mellow.

Now alternate, one time belly strong and pushing out and breathing air out, and one time belly lazy and pushing out and breathing air in. This is good. And then switch legs and do this on the other side. Each time you do this, take advantage of how much of you that you can feel beyond your belly. Can you feel your spine and neck and chin and ribs and pelvis. Enjoy being a full and living and aware person.


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