Once in a while we all need a little break; some time to sit back and reflect on our health, our state of mind, and our general well-being. Our new series from Itorye Silver will focus on health and wellness in an age (and a city) that tends to be so busy and exciting that sometimes we get carried away and forget to touch base with a place of calm and focus. Sometimes we just need a reminder to take a moment for insight and reflection... a moment of "me", if you will. This is that moment. Enjoy it.
There is this tendency to rush our breath throughout the day. I think it mimics our lifestyle, where we want everything faster and have forgotten the joy in taking it slow. Shallow breathing, as it is commonly referred, demonstrates that we have greater depths available, physically. This is not a metaphor; we have more to give and more to grow, but often we are stuck in this abbreviated form of respiration. In this respiratory shorthand we are quick to anger and become restless because we need the oxygen to function. Our bodies cannot function without oxygen. Without it we have less energy, less mental capacity and longer recovery times from injury. Shallow breathing is the term used to describe the breath that reaches about the level of your heart, but no further. This is not enough. Belly breathing is as it sounds, breathing deeply into the base of the belly. Once you adopt this practice, you’ll never go back, because oxygen is the boss. It’s the best drug available.
Try it, right now. Feel the breath. Air can be cool or warm, but it’s dense and it fills you. Try to get the air all the way into your belly’s bottom. That’s right- belly bottom. That’ the goal, that cool dark place our breath seldom visits. Hold your breath there for a beat, feeling how full the air makes you and then force it out, and pause at empty. Sit with this “emptiness” one beat then allow the air to enter you without having to draw the breath, effortlessly, then pull a little further.
Oxygen is clearly awesome and readily available. You can double your intake by forcefully exhaling; breathe all the way out until you feel empty and rather than let the air rush in passively, mindfully inhale, filling yourself with life-giving oxygen and the power to protect iron in moments of stress (more on this next time). Low energy, breathe deeper. Headache, take a deep breath or three. Furious, breathe and let oxygen do the rest.
Our Monthly Moment of "Me" is brought to you by Itorye Silver. Itorye grew up running the hills and swimming the rivers and lakes of the Adirondack Park. These foundations created a basis for her study in Taoism and she has spent the last decade and a half embedded in various internal martial arts and meditations. Having worked in health and science education throughout that time her commitment to spreading the gospel of healthy living has grown stronger and she is currently in pursuit of her Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine.