The Art of Listening to Life
We are not machines. Somewhere along the day we have to take a break to rest and re-centre. It has come to be known as the coffee break, even though most people don’t drink coffee during break; specially the afternoon break. This article is about a coffee substitute, and it is well known to us as oxygen.
Our body has a natural action it does when it needs more oxygen, it is called a sigh. We naturally take a deep breath and do a long exhale. Connecting several sighs in a row is the beginning of developing a breathing technique. Two minutes of deep breathing can yield great benefits in resting the body and mind. Just two minutes!
I was talking to a friend the other day about meditation and they were telling me about their practice. They were achieving an hour or more and they expounded on the value of the practice, which they sometimes do twice a day. Nice! If you have found and invested the time into a practice that works for you, that is fantastic. It is something to celebrate and maintain. A worthy achievement!
However if you don’t have a meditation practice, it is important to know that you can find centre in a few minutes, with very little technique or ritual. There are many simple methods for checking in with yourself and one of them is taking time to breathe deep.
Breathing is the original mantra. Follow your breath in and follow your breath out: that is the simplest and super effective way to tune into yourself during the course of a busy day. Two minutes will yield great results, and five minutes puts you on a path of re-alignment and coherence. The next article will be on the ‘Five Minute Reset’.
Alignment is important in everything we do. Unfortunately, we assign more importance to having the wheels aligned on our car, than checking our alignment. After two or three hours of working on a project, we can loose sight of our context, our bigger picture, we need to come up for air (no pun intended). Forgetting where you are and who you are, does not serve you and your higher purpose. The good news is that it only takes a few minutes to achieve a clearer state of mind and internal balance.
Here is a powerful technique called Breath Counting. To start, sit upright with a straight back and take a few deep breaths. Try to be self-supported, use your spine (your column) to sit up straight instead of the backrest of the chair. Feet flat on the floor. Breathe in by filling the bottom of your lungs first and fill towards the top until your shoulders start to rise. Belly fills first and upward. One breath in and then the exhale. Once you finish an in-breath and out-breath, count One. Do the cycle again and count Two. See how far you can count without loosing track?! Try to think of nothing more than the air moving through your nostrils, both going in and out. Do this with your eyes closed. Two minutes of deep conscious breathing will clear your mind and align you with the moment. There are multiple benefits to doing this.
You can find this breathing technique and several others in the App Relaxation One on all smart phones and tablets. The App is a great way to learn about several beneficial breathing techniques. The App also has timers for the break as well as a monthly scheduler for choosing specific times for tuning in and rebalancing yourself.
Setting reminders for doing it is huge! Thinking that you will just remember to take a moment to breathe and check in with yourself is leaving it to chance. Schedule it in. The next objective is finding a technique that can super charge your break. Deep breathing fills the lungs with oxygen, and we can work towards filling your mind with intention as well. White light in, dark smoke out (more on that later).
The Relaxation App can be downloaded here for iPhone and here for Android. Breathing 101 is a good place to start. The greatest journey starts with one step and taking a step toward taking short centering breathing breaks during the day is the beginning of enhancing your life journey. This is a mindful act, it is a conscious act for establishing coherence and re-alignment with your day.
You can drink another cup of coffee. You can eat something or take a short walk, or you can just breathe.
Two minutes of deep breathing is easy and it is an act of self-reliance. It’s already in you! It accelerates the benefits of the work break. Substitute the “Coffee Break” for a “Breathing Break”, and calm your mind, relax your body, center your ‘self’… it’s all within you!
Marcus Dupuis is the Founder of Relaxation One and the Translator of “The Art of Listening to Life”