Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Breathing into the Places that you Feel

Breathing into places that you feel is one of the best techniques I know of to cope with strong sensations, whether they're physical or more subtle, as in emotional or mental. Breathing into a stretch in your hamstring is easy, but breathing into disappointment is more difficult. That's partly because we take our subtle sensations more personally and we think they're more meaningful than a stretch in the leg.

It's a tool I use when I'm going through a difficult time. When the negative sensations arise, when I remember to, I breathe into them just like they're a stretch in my physical body. Recently I went through a really hard time - I felt hurt and sad as a relationship ended. One of the things I did that helped me get through it and come back to a centred place was to breathe into the feelings of hurt and sadness and watch them, just like I do when I'm stretching my glutes.

I would isolate the thoughts that were there, "He hurt me. I'm sad." And I'd breathe into the hurt and the sadness through my tears.

What happened is the sensations became more manageable and then they disappeared. I just started feeling better and the sadness went away for awhile. Sometimes it was just for a few minutes, but at the time, that seemed like a lot. Then it would be gone for hours.

This is one of the ways I become stretchier - more flexible - internally. And then after some time those sensations return and I breathe into them again and they pass. And eventually they have passed completely. They return in different forms and I breathe through them anew.

It's something I do on a smaller scale if I notice I'm irritated. In general I don't like waiting. So when that irritation arises I just notice it, breathe into it, and then I'm just waiting and it's okay. Except when it's not. Sometimes I don't notice I'm irritated and I just am irritated and then I'm bitchy and crabby. But when I remember to notice the sensations and not take them personally, it's different. My friends and family can tell if I'm taking them personally, and your friends and family can too. Who cares if you can stretch on a yoga mat? That's great, but the real progress will be felt when you can stretch yourself with others, extending to them your patience and presence. And progress will also be felt internally when you find yourself getting over things faster than you used to.

Breathing into the places that you feel is like clearing the path, making it so you can continue along without staying stuck in negative thought patterns.

Just my thoughts this morning.

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