The power of your breath is that it is always in the moment, it is always something you can return to.
Self-awareness is key to starting a successful trauma healing journey. It can feel a bit overwhelming in the beginning, as you are literally choosing to counter your biology in choosing discomfort, learning how to navigate stepping outside your comfort zone and taking a hard look at your toxic coping strategies.
I do a lot of trauma education with my clients. I know it provided me with the comfort to know that there was nothing wrong with me in how I had responded to and lived through my trauma. In fact, I was in many ways a textbook example of a child that grew up in a household with domestic violence and was being abused emotionally, physically, and sexually. The outcome was that I lived with toxic stress as a child and as an adult, that toxic stress was still living inside of me as if it was still happening and all my systems were on high alert, all the time!
As I started to understand the impact of trauma and learning that I was not alone, I slowly became aware of how big a part my biology played in how I would be able to heal from the past. It became easier and easier and I was open to learning new things, actually willing to explore anything if it helped me find peace in my mental, emotional, and physical state and better able to connect with people.
Learning about the power of my breath was an important piece of the puzzle. As survivors of trauma, we hardly notice our breath, our shallow or fast breathing. We hardly notice our tight shoulders and the weight on our hearts or the knot in the pit of our stomach. It has been such a big part of your life, you assume it is what all people feel and experience all the time. But it isn't the case, these are signs of stress and panic and disconnect in the body, not signs of healthy living.
When I started to get into meditation about 20 years ago, I was fascinated by how the simple act of taking a deep breath could shift how I felt and it gave me the space to think about how I wanted to respond to my thoughts. I had practiced meditation and some form of breathwork of and on throughout my healing journey but it was not until a few of years ago that meditation became a regular self-care practice and then reinforced as such when I received my TRE certification. I reconnected with the power of my breath, the awareness it brought to my body, inside and out, and the power it had to shift my entire being from a place of tension to relaxation, from focusing on the past or future to simply existing in the present, one breath at the time.
Our breath is one of the systems of our body that can override our subconscious automatic systems. We only have to become aware and start to take the breaths we need to make the shift from how we usually feel to how we want to choose to feel now.
If you are new to mindfulness or meditation, it might feel like an overwhelming practice to start because you don't know how to. So here are some simple steps for you to try:
1. Find a comfortable seat, keeping your eyes open or closed.
2. Begin by taking 3 full, slow deep breaths. Inhale and exhale fully.
3. Allow your breath to come back to a normal pace.
4. To start, just sit and notice your breath coming in and going out. Attempt to keep your focus on the breath moving. When thoughts pop up or begin to manifest, just notice them, let them go, and return to noticing your breath.
6. The more you practice, start to notice how your body responds to the inhale and the exhale. Your lungs, the warmth of the breath, any heaviness or lightness in your body, change of temperature, etc. Keep your mind focused on your body. These reactions are happening in the present and are asking for your attention.
7. Remember that there is no need to control or judge. You can't do this wrong. Just accept and allow. And give yourself this moment of being aware of your breath, being fully in the present moment with yourself.
8. As you slowly come back from this breathing meditation, just take a minute to scan your body and notice how you feel before you head out to your day.
Tip: In the beginning, it might be helpful to set an alarm and just start with 1 minute or 5 minutes if you can, so as to not overwhelm yourself with the challenge of practicing this for too long. Increase the time as you become more comfortable sitting for longer periods of time.
The long term benefits of mindful breathing include stress relief, better control over difficult emotions, increased positive thinking, and more self-awareness, just to name a few. What is powerful about starting a simple breath meditation is that you can do it anywhere and it can always help you to come back to the present moment, where we want to be for connecting with other people. So much of our worry or anxiety about life is about the future or rumination about the past that we can't change. Start with just one minute a few times per week and notice how you feel.
And if you want to dive even deeper into learning how to use the power of your breath and the power of mindful living, consider joining my upcoming 8-week mindfulness class. It is a science-based course created to teach you how to identify and ease the pain, anxiety, and stress within yourself and create acceptance and compassion for it.
The physical, psychological, and social benefits are seemingly endless including positive changes in the brain, boosting the immune system, memory, concentration, and positive emotions, decreasing negative emotions and stress and increase, even fighting depression.
It's the last day to sign up with the discounted price!
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