Grief brings out an onslaught of emotions ranging from depression to rage. One of the toughest parts of grief is that we all walk the road alone. Even when family, friends, and a community of loved ones gather around us to share in that sorrow, each of us has our own unique relationship with the process. Grief is a gift in remembering love in a deep and meaningful way. Grief is a gift none of us want to unpack, but a gift we all have in common.
Once your heart knows grief, it becomes a part of who you are. From turbulent times to spiritual moments of clarity, grief offers us a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.
Grief is so powerful that we often feel we need permission to open up about how we feel. Grief, in all its forms, helps connect us and when shared is a powerful tool for healing.
Whether you are in the heat of grief or mourning the loss of someone lost long ago, we need each other to share in this breath. And we need to have open conversations about other types of grief as well. Grief from a divorce, or loss of a job. Grief from letting go of a long-held dream or parting ways with a dear friend. Grief comes in many forms, and it’s more than losing someone to death.
More than losing a loved one
On the rare occasion that grief is discussed openly in our society, our minds automatically turn toward death and dying. But grief runs much deeper than that.
Grief is one of those words that encompasses a sea of experiences. Attempting to describe it is futile. Grief, like love, has to be felt to be understood.
The grief of a pet stings differently than the grief of losing your mother.
The grief from leaving a relationship feels different than the grief of never finding one.
The grief of letting part of your identity go sits differently than the grief one feels from war.
We all face grief. It is the risk of love. It runs deeper than death and it is not dependent on where we come from, or our age, gender, sex, religion or choices we’ve made (both good and bad), our finances, our dream, or our faith.
Loss and the grief that comes with it are universal.
Grief is the pain we feel on some random Thursday at 3pm in the middle of a lecture. It is the whisper of a memory that catches us without armor on a Tuesday morning drive to work. Grief is the complicated emotions you have around the shattered relationship you thought you so neatly cleaned up 15 years ago. Grief is an unexpected earthquake that wakes you at 4am as your entire life feels like it’s crashing down around you.
Grief is love that hasn’t been allowed to be expressed.
Grief is a gift
Grief is a form of transition. Without warning or invitation grief comes into our lives. Like love, grief comes without a timeline and without rules. Grief teaches us compassion for other humans in a way that nothing else can. Grief reminds us that the time spent with those we love is important and fleeting. Grief connects us to each other and is a messy gift that we all share.
If we can learn to open up about our grief then we can begin to heal from our grief. Our society treats grief as though it is a dirty little secret that no one should talk about. Yet it is something we all feel. The more you can be open and vulnerable in the story of your grief, the more others will feel safe and connected to you.
Grief is a part of who we are. It is a gift that unites us. We shy away from grief because it reflects our own pain and sadness; things we don’t want to feel. Much like love, when you grieve you are exposed to feeling hurt.
Grief is one of the unbreakable bridges that connect us to other human beings. It sheds light on the darkness and reminds us that we are all the same.
Learning to see your grief as a gift can transform you into a more compassionate human. Someone who understands that people and experiences and cultures might be different, but we are all victims of circumstance and that there is nothing more true about love than the grief it brings.
An Invitation for grief
I invite you to step into your grief and begin to heal yourself and the world around you. Allow it to take you deeper into understanding the web of human connection. Become a witness to your grief and allow others to find solace in your vulnerability. Inside of you is the courage and strength to find meaning in your pain. Find freedom from your fight against grief and allow the waves to take you into surrender and trust. Allow your life to grow beyond the garden of grief within you and learn to share those blossoming flowers with the world around you.
It isn’t going to be easy work, but the rewards are worth it.
Find your breath again, and let it move deep within your spirit. Bringing life to your body, and purpose to your world. Peace is inside of you now. No matter what stage of grief you are in, feel it. All of it. Allow it space to be felt and be seen because the transformation is what connects us to our humanity and brings us closer to the light.
Breathing Thru Grief. Sunday, December 4th, 2:30-4. St. Matthews Lutheran Church, Renton WA. -Grief as a Gift- All are welcome.
Imagine for a moment that you are completely confident and clear about your what you want from this life. You have absolutely zero doubt that you are living the life meant for you. You know exactly what you are capable of achieving, you know how to achieve it, and you are 100% certain in your ability to receive it. You show up daily with a knowing that your experience is transforming your life for the better.
How does that feel?
Saying goodbye to your self-doubt is a matter of what thought patterns you are willing to let go of so you can invite in more supportive thought patterns.
Contemplating what could go wrong is a normal activity most of us play out in our heads as we think about our future and all the what-ifs? of life. But at some point, this type of pro vs. con reasoning can become harmful to our success. Being prepared for the future is a great thing, but expecting the worst is not. The trick is to learn to create a bridge in your thinking that connects a positive outlook to your self-worth.
When you feel confident and excited about what’s happening in your world you start seeing more results and outcomes in line with that thinking. You stop second-guessing yourself because you know you bring value to the table. This outlook in your thinking brings more positive things into your life and you start feeling like a total badass in all that you do.
The world needs more people like this. Yet somehow we’ve been tricked into a system of lack that has us feeling low about ourselves and questioning our worth. This type of thinking isn’t helpful when you are seeking joy, happiness, or a greater understanding of self.
The good news is that if you are ready to say goodbye to self-doubt it begins with asking yourself questions and the willingness to take action in modifying what you see.
Here are some questions to take on a walk with contemplation…
What do I want from this life? Do I even know?
What would it mean for me to show up wholly for my family?
What would need to change for me to fully embrace my work?
Where in my life do I feel like an imposter/fraud?
What brings me joy?
Answer these questions and all questions that arise from these questions until you have a clear vision of what a purposeful life would look like for you.
Then ask yourself; What would it feel like to live in that reality?
If you’re anything like me, then this new reality feels pretty darn good. It resonates with a deep desire within your soul. As you allow yourself to feel into the emotions of it, let it be what it is. Try to not put parameters on if it is possible or not. Just know that it IS possible and feel that throughout your entire being.
Coming down from the dream cloud can feel like a total buzzkill once impostor syndrome starts tearing you apart. Am I right?
I have a secret to share…
That impostor only lives in your head! No one else is doubting your ability and shaking your confidence. You are doing this to yourself. Self-sabotaging your ideal life before it even got a chance to happen.
Well it’s time to say goodbye to self-doubt
It’s time to end this negative self-talk so you can fully show up in your dream life.
It’s time to embrace your inner badass and reach your full potential.
It’s time to step into your power and start making an impact in your career.
It’s time to devote your attention to your relationships with love.
It’s time to re-wire your thinking into one of belief and wonder.
This is possible for you! You can say goodbye to self-doubt and overcome impostor syndrome. You can live a life of confidence.
Breath The Doubt Away
When you consciously work to change your breathing patterns you begin the process of re-wiring your thought patterns. As you slow down and watch your breath you begin to see clearly the thoughts that run on auto-pilot in your mind. Allowing you to identify, catch, and rewire the unwanted doubt into confidence and self-worth.
Here are 3 ways conscious breathing can help you rewire your brain for success and say goodbye to self-doubt once and for all.
Exhale Out Rumination
From time to time we all get stuck ruminating on negative thoughts and outcomes. Sometimes these negative loops run around in our thoughts for years before we even notice what’s happening. We can become so addicted to these negative loops that it becomes hard to break this chain. Breath of Fire is a great way to stimulate your nervous system by clearing out your lungs and the stagnant thoughts stuck there. As you forcefully exhale out at a fast pace the thoughts in your head take a back seat. This allows you an opportunity to feel beyond the constant mind chatter and begin to actively make new choices about your thinking patterns.
Sit crisscross or hips to heels, allowing your spine to grow long and your belly to fall loose.
Forcefully exhale out the nose 10 times as you actively push the navel in towards the spine. (This will feel like a sneeze)
Allow the inhales to happen naturally.
Keep your shoulders and face relaxed activating only from the belly.
After 10 rounds go back to your natural breath.
Sense what’s happening in the body.
Do 2 more rounds of 10-20 fiery exhales to help clear out the lungs and the mind.
Draw in Achievement
You have accomplished so much in your life! Self-reflection is a great way to bring those achievements into the present moment. Self-doubt holds you back, and I get it, you don’t want to make a mistake or look silly trying something new. Here is the rub, you must be willing to risk the unknown to achieve greatness.
Think back to a time you achieved something amazing. I bet you had to work through some fear and anxiety to get to that point, and I bet it was worth it.
Thinking back on these highlights in your life reminds us that we can do great things and not dwell in doubt. Don’t compare your timeline to others and press forward.
Triangle Breathing is great for helping you to draw in fresh clean oxygen, bathe in the glory of it, and release what no longer serves. Doing 5-10 rounds of triangle breathing is a great way to draw in new while leaving that inner critic behind.
In a chair, lying down, or in a meditation seat. Just allow the belly room to expand.
Inhale through the nose for a 4 count as you fill up your belly with air
Hold at the top for a 2 count giving this new fresh clean air time to work it’s way into your mind and body
Exhale out through pursed lips for a 6 count (like you are blowing out a straw)
Take a slight pause at the bottom of your breath
Repeat 5-10 times.
When our exhales are longer than our inhales we clear out old air laying dormant in the body. It allows each following inhale to bring in a fuller breath that is new, clean, and ready to actively move energy through your body.
Triangle breath is a great practice to try anytime day or night.
Breathe Gratitude Into Your Thoughts
Take a full deep inhale through your nose and allow it to travel deep into your belly.
Exhale and release tension from your shoulders.
Take a few moments to connect with your breath.
Invite in the question, “What am I grateful for?”
Notice what comes up, it could be as simple as a nice warm bed, or your favorite raincoat.
Allow the offering of gratitude to change as you like. Perhaps box breathing love, or knowledge and understanding. Whatever comes up for you. Feel the words as you receive with the breath and offer out with the breath.
This whole exercise doesn’t have to take long. Maybe 5 minutes to start. Leaving you feeling more grateful for who you are and what you have to offer.
Your breath is your constant companion in life. It is there to support you through everything going on in your world if you learn to use it correctly. However, there are times when you may need more support to help you through a tough time, or to help navigate the challenges you are facing. Self-compassion and self-care are essential in today’s world.
Find supportive people to talk to. Our brains are a wacky world full of neurons that remain a mystery. Sometimes the best way to move forward is to talk to someone about your difficult thought patterns. Someone who can help set you on a path to recovery.
Others may find that reaching out to groups of people walking a similar path is the medicine they need.
Whatever challenges are currently on your path there is a way through them. Your breath is one way of helping you clear the weeds in your mind and see that path clearer. It is what works for me. I encourage you to find the solution that works for you. Only you know what that solution is, but please remember when feelings of self-doubt creep into your life, that you are truly doing better than you can imagine, and there are millions of others, just like you, finding our way through doubt as well.
If you are interested in learning more about how your breath can support you, check out my self-guided online course, Breath Mindset, and begin your healing through breath today.
November is the season of gratitude. It’s the time of year that we turn our attention to all that we have. The more things we find to be grateful for, the more things we feel thankful for! So often we focus on the big things, but what about your everyday needs that are met without any thought? Things like…
Fresh clothes out of the dryer
Once you start to recognize all the things to give thanks for you find it’s the little things.
Snuggles with your cat
From the sight of a rainbow after a storm to an unexpected moment of contentment during a traffic jam, gratitude helps us keep in mind that things are better than we may have previously believed.
Learning to appreciate all that we have, from the roof over our heads to the people in our life, stems from all those times growing up when we were told to be grateful for all that we have. And it’s a hard thing to wrap our heads around because as kids, what we have is all we know. We aren’t thinking in terms of more or less, it just is. Once we start to understand what it means to show up wholly in our life, we begin to understand how big all the little things are.
The small things are the big things
We hear this word, grateful all the time. We are told from a young age how important it is, but what does it actually mean? How can you develop a sense of gratitude in your own life?
Life is moving fast. You have bills, deadlines, carpools, and schedules bouncing around in your head. You have relationships and goals that you’re working on. Who has time to think about gratitude when you’ve got dinner to cook?
Gratitude is a buzzword, and we all get the basics: seek out the good in life. Research shows how beneficial this simple practice can be for your mental and physical well-being. The feeling of gratitude is practiced through action.
Gratitude is a verb
Just like love and hate are things we feel, so is gratitude. It’s a practiced emotion. So by actively recognizing the good that surrounds us, we put gratitude into action. This recognition holds a transformative power.
“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” -Willie Nelson
Gratitude pulls our mindset out from negative viewpoints and into a well of good ones. Now that you have some ideas in your head, start identifying them in your own life daily. Here are 3 ways you can begin practicing gratitude today.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
How would your life change if every day you started and ended the day by writing out 3 things you are grateful for? When you start identifying what you are grateful for you start looking for things to be grateful for. Counting your blessings trains your mind to see the good in your everyday life. As a bonus, you can look back on your journal and reflect on the blessings of the past and watch how much it grows through the years.
Finish this sentence: “I am so happy and grateful now that…”
I can be anything you want. Writing out things you are happy and grateful for begins to attract those things to you. Bob Proctor gave us this nugget of knowledge in the widely successful movie The Secret. It’s one of the simplest ways to get your mindset into that of gratitude.
Write Thank You Notes
When you begin to notice all the blessings of your life you will want to share this feeling with others. A great way to show appreciation is to write a thank you note. Nothing long or fancy, just a simple thank you is enough. When you take time to write out a thank you note it can boost your mood. Signaling a positive outlook on the world reflects back more positivity and gratitude. When you take the time to let someone know they are appreciated not only takes your mind off your own troubles, but it lightens the load of another.
Next time you’re at the store pick up some thank you cards to have on deck. Then when the moment comes you are ready. Don’t think about it, just do it. Either as an active practice of gratitude in the moment or take an hour once a week or month to commit to writing and sending a couple out.
When you start to breathe deeply you start to connect to what is real and true in your world. It’s not always what you had in mind but it is always worth your time. Using your breath to breathe in gratitude helps create a cycle of positive energy moving in, through, and out of you. This type of mindful reflection teaches you to accept without judgment. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to accomplish so much and we often forget to slow down and appreciate all that we do. Breathwork is time to sit silently or with a recording that actively reduces stress.
When you think thoughts of gratitude and appreciation as you take mindful breaths we get the sensation that you are actively inhaling that which we are grateful for.
Try them for one month!
Give these 3 practices a try. November is a great time to flex your gratitude. Online challenges and games are everywhere this time of year and as we move closer to Thanksgiving we can reflect on good instead of commercial craziness.
If you are in the Seattle area, I’m hosting 3 90-minute Yin, YogaNidra, and Sound Healing workshops throughout the area the week of Thanksgiving to guide us all into a deep feeling of gratitude to be carried through the holiday season and beyond.
Mindful Breathing Activities to Calm Little Goblin Minds
Beware the goblins and monsters tucked away behind your well-behaved child’s sparkling eyes. Halloween is here and with it comes overactive imaginations, make-believe, sensory overload, and candy–candy everywhere!
It’s hard not to get swept away into the ghostly spirit and even harder to calm down the tender-hearted as sugar pumps through their veins. Have no fear, mindful breath practices are here to slow down the sugar-fueled zombies.
The stores are filled with candy and little minds prepare for their big costume reveal. We all feel the urge to let loose and give over to the excitement of the season. Halloween is a time to put on a new mask and get caught up in the fun, but how do you calm those hungry eyes down when it all becomes too overwhelming?
Calm the Mind with Breathwork
Deep breathing can be used as a coping mechanism. Incorporating breathing practices with the theme of the season will address their sensory needs and help guide them to a more regulated state.
Addressing your child’s specific needs
Can help you move them into a more mindful state with these deep breathing exercises.
One of the great things about deep breathing exercises is that it teaches kids how to feel into their bodies. When they can better understand how their bodies react to stimulation they will respond in a more self-reflective way. With practice, deep breathing exercises will teach them to be more mindful in situations that previously caused an outburst.
Practicing deep breathing can be a powerful tool for both children and parents alike.
Breathing tools anchor your body into the present moment, helping you to be more aware of feelings and sensations. Once you feel fully aware inside your body, it’s easier to approach the external world with a more mindful attitude – Making it a powerful way to reset your day, your nervous system, and your attitude.
Simple Mindful Breathing
In as little as 3-minutes, you can practice these breathing techniques with your little vampire. Invite these practices into the day and see how ghostly fun they can be.
Look for opportunities to invite in breathwork:
Present it as a game
Get all the kids involved
If you see a prince/princess alone or sad, invite them to play
If your wizard has wild eyes invite them to participate too
All can be done on their own, or as a group
It’s fun for witches from 2-876 years old
And remember, it’s okay to indulge. Have a sweet, get dressed up, and go to that party. But never leave home without your spell book of mindful practices to keep the spooky world around you in control.
Deep Pumpkin Breathing
Find yourself a pumpkin and place a finger (or a wand) in one of the natural grooves.
Glide your finger up towards the stem as you take a deep breath in.
Hold for a moment as you move your finger to the next groove.
Trace down the next groove while slowly exhaling.
Hold again at the bottom as you move to the next groove.
Continue working your way all away around the pumpkin.
Inhale up one groove, and exhale down the next.
You get to determine the rate you breathe. It can be done with a carved pumpkin too!
Using a pumpkin or even a picture of a pumpkin can work. The small grooves make this an easy-to-follow practice and it can be done with any size pumpkin. For a more grounding practice grab a small pumpkin so little hands can hold them and feel the weight.
Alternatively, you can deepen this practice by placing the small and light pumpkin on their belly as they lay flat.
Let them feel the pressure of the pumpkin and the way their breath and body move underneath it.
Balancing the pumpkin with their hands they can continue with the 4-count breathing (in for 4, out for 4) as they focus on the rise and fall of the pumpkin.
Continue in this manner for 5-7 rounds to ease the mind and feel grounding in the body.
A great exercise for anyone who needs a moment of calm and a personal favorite for alien brains who have been exiled into time out.
Candy Corn Breathing
No candy corn is needed to perform this one! But if you happen to like this classic treat the triangle shape is a great visual to follow.
Visualize candy corn in your mind, or even a picture will do.
Notice the triangle shape and place your finger at the bottom right corner.
As you inhale to the count of 4, glide your finger up the long side of the candy corn.
Pause for a moment at the top as your finger movers around the top of the candy.
Exhale to the count of 4 as your finger glides down the opposite side.
At the bottom, your finger will glide back to the starting point as you hold empty air for a 4 count.
Repeat this triangle breathing pattern for 5-7 rounds.
A great way to calm the mind is coloring. Consider printing out an image of candy corn for a coloring activity either before or after the breathing.
This exercise helps your astronaut focus on the moment and lowers anxiety.
This is similar to Candy Corn breathing but the long hold is on the inhale instead of the exhale. It’s also a great way to add sound to your breath. When sound is added on the exhale it helps you to push out more air. And the more air you push out the more room you have to bring in fresh air, allowing it to travel deeply into your body.
Print out a picture of a ghost like the one above.
Place a finger at the bottom point.
As you inhale to the count of 4 your finger travels up the right side of the ghoul.
Hold your breath in for a 4 count as your finger moves over the ghost’s head.
Open your mouth and exhale for a 4 to 6 count as you make a spooky ghostly sound.
Pause for a moment at the bottom of your empty lungs.
Repeat 5-7 times, or as many rounds as your little superhero can sit still.
This is a fun activity you can do as a group. Either tracing the image or being led. The kids will want to slow down and breathe deep so they can have a nice long spooky sound. You could add movement by having them find something (or someone) to focus on as they inhale in deep, hold still, and move towards their focal point as they exhale in sound.
Not only does this help center their nervous system it also puts a group of kids into a similar breathing space, so everyone will be more centered as the day progresses.
Another alternative to spooky breathing is Dragon Breath. Same concept, but on the exhale have them stick their tongues out as they try to torch the room around them with their breath. This activates the back of the throat which connects to the vagus nerve and sends an automatic message to the brain that both soothes the nervous system and your little dragon too.
Mindful breathing practices like these help to develop better attention and focus. They are so much fun to do around the house or in a classroom. As your cowboys and cowgirls learn to manage their emotional well-being, breathing exercises are something they can use for a lifetime. This Halloween remember…
Breathe New Energy In and Rediscover How Amazing Life Can Be
When was the last time you felt truly alive? Do you associate the feeling with an experience you had as a child or do you refer back to the first time you did something that completely moved you? Has it ever occurred to you that you can feel alive – full of wonder right now, on this average day where nothing life-changing is happening? All it takes is the right breathing practice to drop you into the ever-present moment and open your senses to being fully alive.
It’s easy to feel invisible and unimportant in a culture that is focused on youth, beauty, and wealth. When you compare your lives to others or try to live up to an expectation of media it steals your joy and takes you out of the richness of your life.
You can create that feeling of something new by changing your energy. And you can change your energy by changing your breath. And you can change your breathing patterns. And you can begin that process right now!
By combining strong circular breathwork with the right mindset, you can invite new purpose into your day. A half-hour of dynamic breathing can clear stagnant energy (prana- breath) stuck in your body and dislodge thoughts of worthlessness, shame, or regret. With new energy (prana- breath) floating through these channels, you can invite opportunities for new experiences that help you feel alive in your body.
Dynamic breathing helps you access the sacred vibration of the current moment.
If you’ve never done dynamic breathing before it can feel both exciting and scary. Tingling throughout your entire body brings up a whirlwind of emotions, sensations, and thoughts. When approached with curiosity it can open you up to see the infinite being that you are. With practice, you can transform your humdrum day into one that is creative and full of passion.
Breathwork is a gateway that helps open you up to an intimate relationship with yourself.
You have been molded your entire life by the outside world of expectation.
As children, we learn by observation. We find a sense of community in modeling what our family does. We are taught right from wrong and are too often plopped in front of a television that shows us what is valued and what isn’t.
We spend very little time actually looking inside and deciding the right path for our unique life. We are molded by our schools, our wardrobe, our friends, our religions, our media. By the time we are 18 we are completely programmed into a world designed to push an agenda of doubt, fear, and lack, leaving us with high stress, higher anxiety, and suicide rates that are on the rise.
Collectively we realize something is off and that something must change, but how?
Could it be as simple as looking inside and finding our breath?
It’s a start.
Yin Yoga was my entryway into breath. I didn’t truly understand what was happening but I could feel this intimate relationship with self starting to bloom. In stillness, I could feel my inhalations work into the tight spots in my body followed by long slow exhales that allowed my body to melt deeper into these sensations. I was feeling my body for the first time in years. Breathing life in and out, I started viewing every sensation as a reminder of being alive.
When you start to connect to yourself through your breath you gain access to a profound sense of intimacy. You begin to discover your body in a new way. You understand that to feel is to be alive. You discover that you’ve been limiting your breath and stopping its flow to avoid the discomfort you feel. As with all intimate relationships, breath reveals you to yourself, slowly, calmly, and from a place of compassion. If you are willing to be brave enough to allow all the sensations of the body to be there then you begin to open up to a deeper understanding of life. And it begins from the inside out.
It is possible for you to experience life again with new eyes. A renewed understanding of…
Joy in your body
Lust for life
All the things that help you live a more fulfilled life are waiting to be touched, and it’s all inside of you right now.
Exposing yourself to breath is simple enough to begin, but it takes patience and a willingness to be uncomfortable too. It’s through the sensations of the body that you’re able to…
Uncover limiting belief patterns
Clear away your negative mind-chatter
Lean into the life you’re really looking for
Expand outside of your normal activity
Release thoughts and sensations that no longer serve you once and for all
There is a thrill in awakening your senses through breath.
Passion is ignited, but this time it’s for yourself as you look further in and discover the most intimate relationship you will ever be in–the one with yourself.
Your ordinary life has the potential to take on more meaning, and it can be done in as little as 5 minutes a day to start.
Breathwork is a gateway to understanding how energy moves through your body.
If you are ready to unlock this intimate journey into self then look no further than your breath.
Step outside your comfort zone with ease
Feel what’s like to have a body
Connect to your higher self
Walk with inspired thought
Realize you are the energy you seek
An enriched life begins the moment you decide to take a look inside, and your breath can lead you there.
If you are interested in learning more please check out my YouTube channel for simple videos to follow and sign up for my 4-week breathing course, Breathe Mindset. Take the first breath in a new direction and enter the next phase of your journey with more presence and purpose.
Achieving Bliss During Meditation is not what your think.
You’ve probably been told a lot about meditation as a source for generating more mindfulness into your life. You probably even have stories you tell yourself about your capability to achieve such “enlightenment” from these practices.
Most people I talk to about meditation have this feeling that they are doing it wrong, or that it is something only achieved by the super spiritual or highly dedicated. People brush it off after trying it only a couple of times.
I can easily see why.
It is incredibly hard to sit still. Our minds our full of chatter about our day, our world, our relationships, and the stories we tell ourselves about who we are in relation to these things.
Who has time to sit still when all this is going on?
We have been fed a lie about what meditation is and how it’s supposed to be achieved.
Because I get asked about meditation a lot, I find people are always surprised at my thoughts about it. And, of course, my thoughts are a reflection of my personal experience with it.
Consistency is the key
I believe people do give up on meditation too early. Consistency is how we learn to still the mind. Like any practice, it must be practiced! Sitting in meditation takes a lot of willpower. Continually calming the mind and body to be still takes work.
It can be challenging to…
not get up and check your phone
not lose your mind to stories you play on loop in your head
not scratch your itchy nose
not adjust how your sitting
not start planning dinner
not think of the 108 things you must do right now!
You have been living with a busy mind your whole life. You shouldn’t expect it to change overnight. It’s a practice and one that needs consistency to access those moments of clarity.
My advice: Start small. Set an alarm for 3-minutes, then 5-minutes, then 7-minutes. Build up to a 10 or even 20-minute practice in small increments.
If you try to do a 30-minute meditation on your first time out the gate, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Every time you can calm your mind and body down during a meditation practice it’s a win. Every time you can consciously bring your awareness into the present moment you are meditating. Even if it’s just a practice of continually guiding yourself back to the present 50 times in that 3-minute timeframe. You are building your mindfulness muscles.
Stillness Comes in Many Forms
Sitting in a meditation seat (cross-legged on the floor or on a cushion) doesn’t work for everybody. The last thing you want is for your legs to fall asleep or start giving you trouble a minute into your practice. For some laying down is the way to start, and for others seated in a chair.
There is no hierarchy of meditation. How you find stillness within your mind and body is your business.
My advice: Focus on what brings stillness to the mind and the body will follow.
Your mind and your body are like two peas in a pod, it’s hard for one to not match the other. If the body is relaxed the mind will soften, and if the mind is at ease so too will be the body.
If the thought of sitting in stillness is overwhelming or causes you to have anxious thoughts, then perhaps a walking meditation is the best place for you to start.
Yin Yoga is what brought me to meditation. I love it because the poses are slow deep holds that typically range from 3-5 minutes each. An hour of yin yoga gives my mind and body plenty of time to find stillness and focus with the luxury of knowing that every 3-5 minutes I have an opportunity to move, to wiggle out any nervous tension before settling back into the next pose.
Letting go of expectations of how stillness is found can be a powerful and positive way to bridge the gap in your mind about your ability to meditate.
Your Breath Is Your Anchor
When you consciously connect to your breath you are anchoring yourself into the present moment. The only moment there truly is. The place where all discovery takes place and the only time change can occur. When you are ready to open your life to a higher awareness your breath is a great place to start.
My Advice: Quit putting pressure on yourself to think of nothing, and instead think about your breath. Focus on the inhales and exhales. This anchors you into what is happening in the moment.
Breathwork is Meditation
How many times have you “tried” to meditate and heard yourself saying…
”It’s impossible for me to think about nothing.”
Well… good news.
I totally agree with this statement.
I have been meditating regularly for years and it has never once been my experience to have a completely still mind free from all thoughts.
In fact, this is the very thing that held me back in my meditation practice for years!
It wasn’t until I realized that breathwork was meditation that I was able to move past this myth.
Now I’m not saying it isn’t possible. I’m only saying it hasn’t been possible for me.
Breathwork helped me to see my thoughts as part of my meditation. The trick was to learn to not hook on any one thought or story and instead see them as a leaf on a stream just passing by. Not hooking to anything. This is where my work was; constantly bringing my mind and body into the present. I quit berating myself for having thoughts and allowed them entrance, but nothing more.
Developing a strong breathing practice is my anchor. It keeps me in the present as I dance in the sensation of each inhalation and melt deeper into myself with every passing exhalation.
The pause at the top and bottom of the breath become moments of luxury to which I find myself floating endlessly in this stream of breath. Allowing the breath to be my anchor broke down the walls of myth I had attached to meditation. It has allowed me to build new ideas and thoughts about my capability to achieve enlightenment.
Below is a Breathwork practice that consciously brings you into the present. I invite you to try it with this new sense of possibility and let go of old myths about meditation.
Find a comfortable place for you to achieve stillness. Turning off all alarms, phones, or beeping and buzzing computers and screens around you. If just for the next 5 minutes.
Remember your place of stillness could entail a walk in the park, or getting into your zone by deep stretching or crafting, or whatever.
If you plan to be more traditional, lay down or take a comfortable seat. Your seat can be cross-legged on the floor or hips to heals, perhaps seated on a cushion for support. If you are in a chair, move to the edge so you can firmly place your feet on the floor, hip-width distance apart and allow your spine to be free from any support so it can grow long.
Once you are set up we begin.
Ground into the earth beneath you. Feeling supported
Close your eyes or soften your gaze to one focal point in front of you.
Settle in by asking yourself…
What kind of awareness have I brought into my day?
What are the quality of my thoughts?
Have I spoken to myself and others in a positive way?
Am I aware of the words I’ve choosing to use?
Notice how you’re feeling right now, and allow all emotions to be present, knowing they can change at any time and allow them to.
Bring your attention to the tip of your nose and begin noticing the cool air as it flows in and the warmer air as it falls out.
Bring awareness to all sensations of the breath
How does it feel in your body?
Where can you feel it vibrate in your throat, lungs, and diaphragm?
Does it move with ease? Or does it feel labored?
Where does it naturally want to travel?
Are there any pockets of tension that restrict your breathing?
Pay attention to the expansion each inhale offers and pay attention as stress and anxiety dissolve with every exhale.
Guide your attention to your spine and feel it float tall on an inhale and ground down on an exhale.
Get curious about where your breath is traveling
On your next inhale direct your breath deep into your belly allowing it to balloon out nice and round
On the exhale actively release any tension around this area.
Next breathe into your ribcage, allowing your side body to naturally widen on the inhale and contract back on the exhale.
Staying curious about any emotion or sensations that come up during movement.
Let go of any expectations of what you think should be happening and just experience what is.
Now breathe deeply into your heart center. Filling up through the emotional center of your being.
Exhale out any tightness of tension in the area.
Continue to move the breath into your back body. Allowing the inhales to expand into your entire back as the shoulder blades gently and naturally separate and contract.
Notice how each area of your body receives the breath and responds to the exhales.
Moving with curiosity
If your mind has wondered, it’s ok, simply guide it back to your breath. Slow and steady.
Experience this current inhale and exhale
Be receptive to all the subtle movements and sensations you’re feeling
Feel your body naturally open and release
Let it be loose, unclench your jaw, and release tension from your brow
Notice the natural flow of your body.
How does your body move with the breath?
Does it feel soothing?
Are the places of discomfort and pain dissolving? Lightening? Releasing?
Where are your thoughts?
Are they passing through with ease?
Do they seem anxious?
Are you aware of kindness and openness to the moment?
Mindfulness is about cultivating awareness to our thoughts not disconnecting to our thoughts.
Become aware that you are aware.
Notice all sensations and thoughts as an observer. Not reacting. Just becoming aware. Being engaged in the experience of this ever-present moment.
Allow kindness to flood in on your next inhale and wash out any residue of stagnation with the exhale
Inhale in a vision of what you want from life and exhale out any resistance to this desire.
Notice how these new and nurturing thoughts feel in your body
Inhale in gratitude for showing up for yourself today
Exhale out any lingering expectations
Continue to breathe into this new awareness for as long as feels inviting for you and when you are ready you can blink your eyes open and continue on with your day. More mindful, more present, and with more focus.
When you commit to showing up and consciously breathe for 3-5 minutes per day you are building an awareness that guides you into a deep meditation practice that previously eluded you.
As your practice develops you will cultivate a deep awareness that gradually changes your perceptions of the world and your place in it.
You will begin to see more kindness in the way you speak and interact with yourself and others. Mentally, emotionally, and physically you will shift your observations into a life more intune with your true nature.
It’s time to let go of the meditation lies and open yourself up to the meditation practices that best suite you. Meditation is possible. No matter how busy your day or your mind. Don’t let the myths behind meditation hold you back from experiencing the joy and enlightenment that can come from a deep understanding of self.
Keep consistent, find your stillness, and anchor into your breath. Sometimes it just takes a perspective shift to open us up to new heights.
Why is it that when it comes to trusting the universe we immediately put parameters on what is possible?
Why is it that accepting yourself as an infinite being of light is so hard for us to believe?
Why is it that we feel we must consciously understand the magnificence of the unknown in order for it to work in our favor?
Why is it so hard for us to let go and trust without a need to understand or figure it all out?
Unconsciously we are moving and performing tasks all the time with zero thought behind them. Our motor skills are busy working away so our conscious mind can think about a hundred different things. Even though we work between the conscious and unconscious daily, it seems there is a part of us that believes we have to understand everything in order for it to be possible for us.
Our conscious mind likes to make sense of our environment. It likes to see the line between step A and step B. It likes to know right from wrong, and it likes problem-solving. The unconscious mind isn’t concerned with any of that; its only concern is supporting the beliefs and narratives programmed into it.
When you are looking to grow your mindset it is important to take a close look at the relationship between your conscious and unconscious mind. Both play a role in how you see your life and both have insight into where your work will be.
Seeing Isn’t Always Believing
There’s a scene in the second Matrix movie, Matrix Reloaded, where Neo and Councilor Hamann are talking. The councilor is describing the machines that keep them alive in Zion that he knows nothing about. He understands he doesn’t need to know how they work in order for them to work. He then says, “I have absolutely no idea how you are able to do some of the things you do, but I believe there’s a reason for that as well.” I have always loved this scene because it reminds me that I don’t need to know how everything works, I just need to know that it works. Like plumbing or electricity. I trust these things to work in my life and I don’t put energy into trying to figure them out. It’s a knowing.
Your conscious mind needs to learn to let go of trying to figure it all out. It needs to connect with your inner knowing so you can find happiness and begin to reprogram the negative unconscious patterns into healthy ones so you can get where you want to be.
This feels impossible at first, but others have done it, and you can too.
Conscious Thought vs. Unconscious Thought
We are always taking in and processing our environment. We use our lens on reality to determine what is necessary information and what we can discard. Your conscious thoughts narrate to you what your unconscious mind is programmed to feel. Or rather, your unconscious mind is using a lifetime of experiences based on early developmental programming to make decisions.
This is why change and growth can be so hard.
You can want to change and have every intention to change, but until you are aware of the unconscious programming behind your decision-making, you won’t change.
Think of a friend you know really well. You know all their patterns and you can easily see how they get in their own way. Now let’s suppose you know their mom, and she’s the same as your friend. You can see how or why they adapted certain unhealthy or healthy programming. It was unconsciously passed down to them. So when someone says “you’re just like your mom” you can begin to see how or why that happens.
If you have been conditioned to some negative or destructive patterns in your unconscious mind and you are ready to explore the root cause, you better be ready to do some work.
Your thoughts and feelings are going to lie to you to keep you safe based on old programming. And if you want to move beyond that programming you have to be ready to step outside your normal decision-making skills and start to create new pathways in your brain that support this new way of thinking.
This is how you move into a growth mindset. It is the difference between saying, “That’s just who I am” and “I can do better.”
Once you begin this process your unconscious will, over time, start to adapt to this new conscious way of thinking and you will no longer be trapped in your old narrative.
The Conscious Dreamer
If I were to ask you…
What do you want out of life?
What do you want to see and experience?
What kind of job do you want?
What kind of relationships do you desire?
Where do you want to live?
Your conscious mind would start dreaming up all kinds of things and you would start to feel the joy and gratitude of having those things. It feels good! Dreaming is fun. But then If I asked, why aren’t you doing those things? Your conscious mind would move from dreamland to the analytical mind. It would start to tell you all the reasons why it wasn’t possible for you and you would be pulled back into those limiting patterns programmed into you from your childhood.
What if you decided to allow yourself to not know how or why, but stay in the dream state? Remember it’s that conscious need to know everything that slows you down and gets in your way.
What if you just decided that what you wanted was the truth for you and started acting from it?
What if you started to accept your needs as worthy and true without your inner critic judging you or trying to dictate how it will happen?
All of your unconscious thoughts are programs that run on the information you feed them. You become a slave to these programs until you start consciously taking your power back. You get to create your reality and your unconscious mind will become a servant to the new programs you feed it.
All that you want and desire can be true for you when you decide to work through and rebuild your unconscious mind.
Trying to create a new narrative takes work because you can’t plan everything out. All you can do is learn to sidestep the old programming by paying attention to the feelings and triggers associated with it.
Every time you have a great idea that is silenced by the unconscious telling you it’s stupid, you are present at this crossroad. You can continue to belittle yourself and the things you want or you can stop yourself and start inputting a new narrative.
You don’t need to know how it all works, the universe is way too big for us to understand. The moment you start to play out the same stories in your head about why or why not something is possible for you, you leave the field of the infinite.
A Record of The Past Does Not Need to Determine Your Future
Up until now, you have made decisions based on your past experiences. Some of these experiences were so traumatic that you relive them constantly and your unconscious mind keeps them handy in order to protect you and keep you alive.
For example, when you are meeting new people you probably have some fear of rejection coming from your unconscious mind. This fear might not make any sense, and everyone else is probably feeling it on some level too, but fear is stronger than logic, and your unconscious mind is there to protect you from the rejection you felt as a child.
A simple (not easy) way to look at consciously reprogramming this fear would be to allow yourself to imagine the desired result and use those emotions to feel something different than fear. The unconscious will slowly begin to view the scenario of meeting new people as safe or fun.
Feel Your Emotions
We are emotional beings. It is important to put emotion behind what we want to feel. Like attracts like. So if you are always thinking the worst then that is what the unconscious is programming you to believe and experience.
Your mindset is all about what you believe is true for you.
As you decide to grow your mindset you will inevitably be faced with old programs that must be transformed for you to make new decisions. You must learn to stay focused on the end result and use emotions you want to relate to.
Your unconscious mind is going to fight for its survival, so this may feel like a tug-of-war. Like you’re lying to yourself, but that’s where trust comes in. Just keep focusing on where you want to be and know that it is true for you. Like a baby throwing a tantrum, it will calm down and see you are no longer interested in going along with and rewarding bad behavior.
You’ve probably already noticed some of your limiting belief patterns and have asked yourself, “why do I always do that?” It’s your unconscious mind running the show, and it is outdated, and time for change.
The best tool I have to help me through the hard times when the inner child in me is acting out and resisting change is to breathe. Consciously staying focused on what results I want, I calm my body and mind with some slow mindful breaths. Inhaling for 4 seconds and exhaling for 4 seconds.
The longer I work on my own programming the fewer tantrums I see. I have developed an entire 4-week course to help others do the same so you can move from a fixed to a growth mindset with Breath Mindset.
Come join me and together we can identify and reprogram your unconscious mind into the conscious reality you seek.
Experience the Transformative Power of a Cold Plunge with Lynar DeLuca
When was the last time you treated yourself to a day at Mount Rainier? The lustrous mountain that can be seen from almost all points of King County. We live so close, yet can go years without a visit. Join Lynar DeLuca of The Breath Academy, and myself, for a day of exploring the Naches Loop Trail with an added Glacier dip down at Dewey Lake. A day that won’t soon be forgotten.
There is a reason that this is one of the most popular trails on Mount Rainer:
The stunning views
The light elevation gain
Every time I find myself here I am captured by the beauty of Tahoma. A stunning reminder of this place we call home and a humbling reminder of how small we really are.
When you join us on Sunday, August 14th, you too will experience this stunning hike, as well as the added bonus of a trip down to Dewey Lake.
This is the most challenging part of the trail and almost doubles the length of the hike from 3.2 to 6 miles in total. The added elevation gain keeps most explorers from traveling down.
This is the fun part, not to mention the cooling-off part.
Because we will be starting early, to beat the crowds and enjoy the peaceful morning, we will miss the midday heat. That being said, the trail does have some stretches of full sunshine. Proper sun protection should be considered as well as sturdy hiking shoes for the descent, and climb from the Lake. The summer sun also brings one other element…
Lynar and I decided to do a trial run of the event this past week and found to our chagrin that the lake hosted an abundance of tiny (and not so tiny) bloodsuckers. This did not stop us from enjoying our time at the lake, but it did put a damper on our breathwork. Because of this we strongly recommend a mosquito hood for protection as well as lightweight long sleeves and long pant attire.
Time To Take The Plunge!
Once at the lake the fun begins! Well, I mean besides the army of mosquitos. The hot August sun has warmed this lake, but the melting snow keeps it at a refreshingly cool temp.
The breathwork will help to calm your nerves as your adrenaline begins to rise. After which you will have an opportunity to get your suits on, (yes, there will be a private changing space), and take a horse stance with us in the shallow end. As your feet take in the cold your mind will settle into focus.
Now you are ready to take the plunge.
Lynar is a 200-hr Certified Yoga Teacher and Breath Coach who has a passion for cold exposure and sharing its incredible benefits with other people. She has been practicing cold dips since moving to Washington almost 15 years ago and has been practicing breathwork for 5 years. Various breath practices have helped her relieve stress and anxiety, while cold exposure has helped her push past the limits of what the mind thinks is possible.
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! And your opportunity to get comfortable being uncomfortable. During your 2 minutes submerged in the lake, Lynar and I will be with you the whole time. Breathing, humming, focusing, and guiding you through. Allowing you the time and space to find your inner stillness and come out stronger on the other side.
After everyone has had an opportunity to feel the power of the cold, we will dry off, get dressed and head back up to the main trail to be rewarded by panoramic views of the mountain. Together we will enjoy some snacks and good conversation before finishing off the loop and heading home.
The biggest breakthrough in your life comes when you are feeling confident. It’s impossible to accomplish greatness when your confidence is low. It’s those times when you are not questioning and second guessing yourself that you start seeing all the blessings flow into your life. Why is that? What factors determine where your confidence is?
Most people struggle in this area, and it’s easy to understand why:
Rising gas prices
With so much uncertainty it’s easy to feel like our lives are spinning out of control. When things seem to be spiraling downward it can really shake your confidence.
All of these things happening in the world are very real and it’s no wonder collectively we are struggling. Why then do some people seem to thrive despite all the turmoil surrounding them?
It’s challenging to stay confident and self-assured when your outer world feels like a dumpster fire. But only if you are putting your faith in the outer world.
If you are stuck on the never ending roller coaster of outer world tragedy then you will never achieve true confidence. By harnessing the true power and confidence you hold inside, you will be able to turn on your confidence when you need it most.
Making the Confidence Shift
Shifting your confidence takes work. We have spent years piling on many layers about who and what we are. We learn what is and isn’t okay from our parents, siblings, teachers, and community. Heck, I was told I had chicken legs by a kid in school whose name I can’t even remember! Yet it affected me so deeply that I didn’t show my legs for decades, and still brush off any compliment I’ve gotten about them as someone just being kind. Talk about a confidence buster. I have many I continue to work through.
Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to start making the shift…
What are you doing that hijacks your confidence?
Watching the news
Scrolling social media
Do you ever find your mind wandering to all the possible negative outcomes?
Do you get caught up in the “What if’s” of life?
What if this doesn’t work out
What if they laugh at me
What if I lose everything
The good news is, if you’re thinking these thoughts it’s because you can see more for yourself than you currently have. You understand that some faith is required to take the next step and with faith comes confidence.
Confidence > Doubt
When you are ready to step into a more fulfilled experience you are bound to be faced with all kinds of emotions. A battle begins to take place between confidence and doubt. And the one that wins is the one you feed.
Anything worthwhile is going to bring up uncertainty because it’s outside your comfort zone and that’s a good thing. It shows that you do have confidence and on some level are toying with the idea of stepping into the unknown.
This should bring up questions! The challenge is listening to how you answer those questions. Do you lean towards doubt? Or towards success?
So much of your success comes from the confidence you put behind your work. Asking questions is a great way to see where your confidence is so you can begin to navigate it towards growth.
And you can do this in 30 seconds or less by focusing on these 3 things.
Pay attention to your self-narrative
Begin to notice the stories you are playing in your head throughout the day. Notice your role in those stories.
Are you a victim?
Are you kind?
Do you see yourself winning or losing?
How do you view others around you? As friend or foe?
How you see the world is how you see yourself
Your perspective on the things in your life shapes how you approach life. If you believe people are looking to hurt you or rip you off then that is what you will see. Likewise, if you see the universe as abundant that is what you will see.
If you are feeling low on your confidence, take a look around and start to rewrite these stories. Catch yourself in the middle of a self-sabotaging narrative and ask yourself, “Is this helping me or hurting me?” And adjust it accordingly. Write yourself into a world that is supportive of you and you will begin to see evidence of that.
Focus on what you’re good at
When looking to build your confidence it’s best to focus on what you already know you’re good at. Too often when faced with big challenges we start to focus on all the reasons why this is hard or why you can never be, have, or do whatever it is. Instead…
turn your focus toward the things you know you can do.
When I opened my first business I was paralyzed by the taxes. I was certain I was going to mess everything up and end up owing my life in fees. I was so focused on it that other aspects of my business were taking a back seat and I found myself angry and thinking this isn’t what I want to do! Then it occurred to me that I didn’t have to. I could pay someone to do my taxes, and it was well worth it too. Not only did I know that my finances were being taken care of, but I didn’t have to stress, cry, and lose sleep over it. It allowed me space to focus on what I am really great at: sales, people, relationships. The things I knew I had down and the things that brought me joy and reminded me why I went into business for myself in the first place.
Whatever you are working on it is essential to keep your head in the right mindset. When you are feeling good confidence will pour out of you.
So what are you really good at?
Step away from negative conversation
When you engage in gossip or join the “This place sucks” crowd, you are fertilizing your brain for judgment. For no reason you feel superior, placing yourself and your life as much more worthy than that of another.
This type of toxic behavior keeps you stuck in the energy of entitlement. Idle conversation is for those idle of mind. If you want to be more confident then it is imperative that you start walking away from toxic conversations.
We have all done it; finding ourselves steeped in the good tea and enjoying it. Maybe even passing the tea along to another because it was so good.
If this is you, the first step is to recognize it and then learn to keep your mouth shut when it is not your business to tell. Like all things, this is a practice, but the sooner you adopt it the sooner your inner confidence will shine.
Confidence Comes from Within
Believe it or not, just talking yourself up, or setting out to achieve a new goal instantly boosts your confidence. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Focus on what makes you great, and start moving with that in mind.
Even if it feels odd at first, the quickest way to build your confidence is to practice being comfortable in uncomfortable situations.
Life will continue to come at you with curveballs and unexpected adventures. It is up to how you choose to meet these inevitable outer circumstances that will determine a lot of how you see yourself in the world.
A tool I use is breathwork. And in my 4-week online course, Breath Mindset, we dive into using your breath to build a better mindset and with it confidence to go boldly in the directions of your dreams.
Change Your Mental Patterns by Changing Your Breath Patterns
Pranayama is the yogi way of saying breath control. It comes from the root words prana, meaning life force or energy source, and yama, meaning to control. Put the two together and you get life energy control. It is also well established that your breath is the bridge between your inner and outer world. As we continue to link this further we begin to understand that if breath is your life energy that you can control and it moves between your internal world and your external world, then essentially you have the power to expand your prana to make purposeful changes in your life.
Breathwork has become very popular these days, which is super cool, but it’s more than just learning how to manipulate the breath in different ways.
Pranayama Breathwork is about enhancing your health, changing your energy levels, and finding balance in your mind.
Viloma means to go against the natural flow. This is a basic breathing technique designed to help you expand the breath cavity. It is done by interrupting the natural flow of breath consciously to cultivate control and awareness of being.
Deliberate pauses are inserted into each round of breath. Not only does this technique help you to take deeper fuller breath, it also helps bring your mind into focus. Whenever you hold your breath, even for a second, your mind becomes hyper aware and all other thoughts take a back seat. These deliberate pauses put micro amounts of stress on the body to prepare you for more dynamic pranayama techniques. Many of which entail longer periods of breath retention and holds.
This practice sets a solid foundation for your breathing practice.
Any time you consciously manipulate your natural breathing pattern you need to be aware of potential side effects. Those who have hypertension or heart disease for instance, shouldn’t hold their pause in a Viloma practice for more than a second or two. If you have epilepsy, are pregnant, or have any health concern that demands attention, you should check with your health care provider before doing any breath holds longer than two to three seconds.
As we go through the practice below, know that for our purposes here we will not be asking you to practice holds longer than 3 seconds.
How to Practise Viloma Pranayama
Viloma Pranayama has three versions or stages. Each one builds upon the last. What makes Viloma unique is that the three versions can be done in one session as you build through the stages, or it can be practiced as three separate techniques.
The three versions are…
Viloma 1- Breath is interrupted on the inhalation
Viloma 2 – Breath is interrupted on the exhalation
Viloma 3 – The breath is interrupted on both the inhalation and the exhalation
Three-Part-Breathing is a helpful and simple technique to understand and have some practice in before attempting Viloma pranayama. The basics of 3-part-breathing is simply inhaling through your nose into your belly, out through your ribcage, and up into your chest. Then exhaling out the chest, through the ribcage, and emptying through the belly. Like an elevator,
In the first stage, the breath is interrupted during the inhalation followed by a long smooth continuous exhalation. This is where I like to incorporate 3-part-breathing because it helps identify markers for the pause, or interruption. Basically, you will breathe into the belly, pause, breathe through the ribcage, pause, and up into the chest, pause, and then exhale slowly.
Stage 1 builds tension during the inhalation while allowing you to get a full deep breath. After this tension has been built both your mind and body enjoy a nice release on the exhalation.
As you practice Viloma 1 you will increase your lung capacity while training your body to let go of tension. Everyday micro decisions build small amounts of tension, and in life there are times when it is helpful to pause and recognize what’s happening in the body. This technique helps you let go of that tension before you hit a boiling point. It is a mental rehearsal in letting go.
Let’s try it.
Sit or lie in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and bring your focus to the tip of your nose.
Begin noticing the natural flow of breath moving in and out through your nose.
After a couple rounds start consciously dividing your breath into 3 parts.
Inhaling into your belly, ribcage, and chest.
Exhaling from your chest, ribcage, and belly.
Once comfortable with this division we begin by inhaling for 3 seconds into the belly about one-third of your capacity and pausing for 1-2 seconds.
Continue inhaling for 3 seconds as you consciously widen through your ribcage bringing yourself to two-thirds of your breath capacity, then pause again for 1-2 seconds.
Now fill up completely as we expand out into our chest with full lungs for 3 seconds and pause one last time, 1-2 seconds more.
Then release on one smooth exhale — slow and steady for 9 seconds.
Do 5 – 10 rounds.
While it is important to fill up to your full lung capacity, it is equally important to not add undue stress by creating strain in your shoulders, back, or throat. As you notice your body through this practice see that you are not feeling tight in your head and that your body is relaxed.
The second stage of Viloma is done in the same way but the interruption comes on the exhalation. Beginning with a nice steady inhale and letting air in 3 parts on the exhale.
As you move into this stage take time to notice how you feel changing the point of tension from the inhalation to the exhalation. During this stage you get to enjoy the sensations of a nice full deep breath in. It is in the exhale that you mentally experience the response to releasing tension in a controlled manner. Here again it relates to life. Noting the importance of cautiously and slowly letting go of tension. Sometimes under stress we tend to react without thinking, and Viloma 2 reminds us to slowly release tension in a mindful manner.
Let’s try it.
Come back to your natural breath.
Notice any tension still remaining in the body after Viloma 1, and continue to release it with every exhale.
Return to 3-part breathing
Inhaling into your belly, ribcage, chest.
Exhaling from your chest, ribcage, and belly.
After a couple nourishing rounds take one long steady inhalation for a full 9 seconds, allowing your lungs to fill completely.
Now exhale out of your chest for 3 seconds, allowing about a third of your breath to go. As your chest drops, keep conscious that your ribcage is still lifted and hold for 1-2 seconds.
Exhale another third of air from your ribcage for 3 seconds and hold for 1-2 seconds.
Now let the final third of air go completely as your navel naturally hugs back towards your spine and naturally hold until the body feels called to the next long smooth inhalation.
Repeat 5-10 rounds.
Be cautious that you are making this an unhurried process. Keep the rest of your body loose while maintaining stillness. With practice, Viloma 2 will increase breath capacity while managing mental tension, allowing you to be more responsive instead of reactive.
By the third stage you should be feeling a deep connection and control over the flow of your breath. Your breathing should resonate deep into your belly and your body should feel relaxed. Once this is true for you, you will be ready to move into stage 3. Viloma 3 is revitalizing! You will interrupt the breath on both the inhalation and the exhalation, maintaining control over the entire breath cycle. Filling up in 3 parts with a pause, and exhaling in 3 parts with a pause.
Let’s try it.
Come back to your natural breath.
Do a couple rounds of long steady inhales and exhales.
Begin the third stage on an inhale, deep into the belly for 3 seconds, and pause for another 1-2 seconds.
Continue inhaling up into your ribcage for 3 seconds, and pausing once more for 1-2 seconds.
The last third of your breath will move into your chest for 3 seconds bringing you to a full breath. You will hold here at the top for 1-2 seconds.
Begin to exhale out from your chest for 3 seconds and about a third of the way through your breath. Hold here, keeping your sternum up for 1-2 seconds.
Continue exhaling out the ribcage for another third of your breath and hold once again for 1-2 seconds.
The last third of breath leaves your body in the final 3 seconds of the round. This time followed by a longer hold. Unforced but pleasantly empty of air until your body naturally inhales into the next wave of breath.
Continue for 5-10 rounds.
Another way to look at Viloma 3 is like a ladder where your breath is moving up and down like steps. It could also be helpful to take a natural inhale and exhale between each round.
With each round the breath capacity develops and with practice the pause and hold times can become longer. This slows the breath and the mind, helping you to open up to the subtlety of your body and navigate through thoughts in your head with more clarity and focus.
Putting it all together
Now you should have a pretty good understanding of the three stages of Viloma pranayama. Check out my YouTube Channel for more information.