Gain Better Control Over Emotions By Practicing Being Responsive, Rather than Reactive

Moving From a Reactive to a Responsive Mind

Do you ever find yourself getting upset about something completely out of your control?

Do you find yourself ruminating on a small inconvenience and making a situation bigger in your head than it actually is? 

Do you ever catch yourself jumping from one ego-driven thought to the next only to find yourself angry and upset over nothing?

Last week this quote came up in an email I subscribe to…

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

This resonated with me for a couple of reasons.

  1. Because this principle is at the core of breathwork
  2. Because this is what is practiced by doing ice baths and cold exposure
  3. Because I often catch myself reacting instead of responding

Even with a solid breathwork practice and work with cold exposure, I still find myself having to actively work on this vital statement. 

Over the past week, I have found myself building up an unnecessary story about a situation at work that is nothing more than a minor inconvenience. In the long run, this situation works in my favor in many ways. 

I started a new job less than two weeks ago. One of the things I had mentioned I was anxious about was what to wear because I’ve never had a job where business casual was the attire, and my wardrobe consisted solely of jeans, leggings, and t-shirts. They offered great suggestions to get me going and I went shopping for new work clothes. It was fun! I actually feel a little fancy, and for this low-maintenance babe, it has been quite a treat!

Well, two days ago it was announced that we would be transitioning from our business casual attire to uniform. 

Umm…. What? 

You mean a week after I went out and spent a bunch of time and money updating my wardrobe? Now you tell me I can wear my jeans to work? The very thing I expressed anxiety over last week? 

You couldn’t mention the switchover coming 7 days later? You couldn’t suggest I start with one new pair of pants because change was on the way?

Clearly, I am agitated by the change. But here’s the thing. I actually don’t mind uniforms at all. The idea of not having to think about my clothes is awesome! And I can wear my jeans, so that rules. Bonus and bonus! 

You can feel my frustration in this example; spending time purchasing new clothes that I now have little to no use for and I’ve worn just about all of them once in the last week and a half. Tags are off and it’s a mild inconvenience. When they told us at the all-staff meeting I took it personally. I began to ruminate on how terrible this company was being managed and how poor communication is. 

I realized whoa!

Is this really how I’m going to respond?

And then this quote came through in my email to hit me in the face and remind me of why I do the work that I do. 

I don’t want to react. I don’t feel good getting wrapped into a frenzy over something out of my control–something that I am actually happy about.

Does that sound familiar to you?

Have you ever gotten upset because you weren’t invited to an event you didn’t want to go to?

Do you ever find yourself filling empty space with an argument over nothing in your head? Having imaginary conversations about what you would say to your boss, family member or friend who you are making out to be the bad guy. 

Maybe you’re guilty of complaining about something as silly as the weather. (As though the weather has anything to do with you at all.)

What if instead you learned to accept the flow of life and matched your thinking patterns to a more pliable nature? 

Instead of, It always rains on my day off, you thought, Oh good, we needed this rain.

Viewing your life and surroundings through this lens can have a profound effect on your life.

Moving from Reacting to Responding

This sounds simple, but it’s not always easy. Working on adopting new and healthier ways of thinking sounds simple, but the key is to catch yourself in the moment and make the decision to move from reacting to responding.

Right now, as you read this it seems simple enough, but you’ll find it becomes much harder in the moment. 

Why?

Because your emotions are involved. 

When your thoughts have been triggered into a story about what’s happening in the world around you, you feel it emotionally. You are used to reacting from the ego and your mind becomes busy plotting revenge or feeling sorry for yourself. These triggering emotions are highly addictive AND it’s how you’ve allowed your mind to react for so long that it feels normal and natural. 

Choosing to jump off of a highly charged emotional ego-based story is tough! Your mind will acknowledge that you are creating a fabricated story, but it won’t want to stop. It feels too good. Even if it feels awful, it’s giving you a huge dopamine drip of feelings that validate your ego. 

With practice, you can train your brain to stop the story before it spirals. You can use breathing practices to calm your thoughts and bring you into the present moment. Then you can look at what’s happening in your life and respond from a clear mind. You choose how you want to show up in this moment. 

It does take work at first. After a while, it will become easier and this right thinking will begin to bleed into other areas of your life and more and more positive change will appear all around you. 

Mastering Your Life

In order to become a master of your life you must learn this one skill…

You must be willing to move from a reactive mindset and start showing up in a more responsive way. 

Stop fueling your energy towards stories and events that you can’t change or that have little to nothing to do with you. 

The fastest way to do this is to slow down, connect with your breath, and learn to accept what is.

There is a term used widely in AA meeting that I heard and love; “Acceptance is the key to all things”

Acceptance helps us to surrender to what is and know that it could be no other way. This step alone helps us to respond in more healthy ways. 

The next time you find yourself quickly reacting to new information, jump as fast as you can out of the story you are creating, and start to bring yourself into acceptance with slow mindful breaths deep into your belly. Then from a more focused mind, you can respond accordingly. 

Looking for assistance as you start this process? Join Breath Mindset! This 4-week, self-led course will set you up with all the tools for success!

Grief, The Messy Gift We All Share

The Gift of Grief

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.

3 Ways Your Breath Can Help You Say Goodbye to Self Doubt

Draw in Achievement and Release Your Inner Critic

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. 

Imposter Syndrome

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 
  • Begin Box Breathing using this mantra. 
    • Inhale – I receive gratitude
    • Hold –  I hold gratitude
    • Exhale – I offer gratitude
    • Empty – I am gratitude

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. 

Find Support!

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. 

Invite More Gratitude into Your Life in 3 Easy Steps!

Take One Month to Reflect and Take Action

When you think about your life, what do you see?

  • Are you grateful for your family?
  • Are you satisfied with your job?
  • Are you thankful for your home?
  • Are you pleased with your health?
  • Are you empowered by your voice?

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…

  • Indoor plumbing
  • Wifi
  • GPS system
  • Fresh clothes out of the dryer
  • Electricity

Once you start to recognize all the things to give thanks for you find it’s the little things.

  • Warm socks
  • Snuggles with your cat
  • Laughter
  • Hot beverages
  • Your breath

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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

Read more about the unexpected joy of sending a card here.

  1. Breathwork in Gratitude

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. 

7 Coping Skills to Survive Your Grief This Holiday Season

Healthy Ways to Navigate Grief During The Holidays

The holiday season is not always merry and bright. Sometimes it can feel downright awful. Especially for those experiencing grief. Not just in the loss of a loved one, it could be a divorce or the loss of a job or pet. Maybe this is your first holiday without your kids or your parents. It’s normal to feel apprehensive about the days ahead. Unfortunately, there is no roadmap for getting through your grief. There are, however, tips and tricks used by millions before you that can help you navigate the holiday season. 

Identify Coping Skills

Grief is a complicated emotion and it’s hard to know what will trigger it. You can prepare for certain events and situations but often the unexpected moments take your breath away. As we approach the time of merriment it’s a good idea to identify a couple of coping skills you can turn to when grief hits you unexpectedly. 

The best coping skills are the ones that work for you! But all coping skills work better when you practice using them. Below are 7 coping skills that help you connect in the tough moments that leave you less than cheery this holiday season.

  1. Be Clear About Boundaries

You are not required to participate in anything. It is okay to say you need time and space. You do not need to be present if you don’t want to. Too often we experience pressure to attend family gatherings, holiday parties, or yearly outings. Although this may come from a place of love, you get to decide what is okay for you. 

Before you say yes to any holiday gathering, sit with it. Do a couple of deep breaths as you mentally see yourself at this event. Feel what you feel. Connect to your readiness for such an occasion. Then you can commit or decline from a place central to your needs. 

Balance is the key. Jumping into all the activities could be good for you, but so could sitting out on one or two. Don’t push yourself and acknowledge that this season will have tough moments and that you will survive them all. 

  1. Honor and Create New Traditions

Consider how to handle certain roles ahead of time. Filling the empty space left by a loved one can trigger grief. You can avoid these moments by preparing for how they will be handled. This can be extremely helpful, especially if children are involved. If Dad always lit the tree or cut the turkey, come prepared with new traditions to fill that now empty role. Creating new roles for yourself and others to help honor and fill a hole can be both healing and powerful. It’s a great way to remember traditions that once were and adapt to new beginnings in a celebratory way.

Keep in mind that creating new memories doesn’t replace old memories. Acknowledge any feelings of guilt that arise in the process of assigning roles or switching up your routine. It’s okay for your feelings to be felt as you process the passage of tradition.

  1. Volunteer

They say that the quickest way to lift your mood is by helping another. When we take our attention off of our own grief and sadness by lightening the load of another, we are lifted by that act. There are hundreds of ways to volunteer and lots of organizations looking for support. 

Check in with your local service clubs, churches, retirement homes, and soup kitchens. 

You may even find it so healing that the volunteering continues past the holiday season. 

  1. Gifts in Memory Of

One of the more challenging things about grief is that everyone grieves differently. This can make for some hard dynamics. Family events might seem disjointed and forced and it’s not your responsibility to make others feel comfortable. 

As you make space for your own grief, you must allow others to find their way through their own. 

One way to invite everyone together is through gifts that honor your loss. It’s a great way to say I understand and love you without forcing anyone into anything they are not ready for. Making a memorial ornament or donating to the deceased’s favorite charity for the family members is a great token of recognition. Something as simple as serving their favorite dish can unite a family as you struggle to figure out the new normal. 

  1. Look for Gratitude

No one should be asking you to have it all together, and no one should expect you to not feel angry, upset, or frustrated by your grief. When you’re in grief it’s important to feel what you feel. Identify the emotions. Allow them to be there. This in itself is a form of gratitude. Taking time to acknowledge yourself and your feelings is huge! And something to express gratitude about. Use this as a launchpad into discovering all there is to be grateful for in this process. 

I had a client who recently lost her brother. A friend of hers lost his brother 8 years ago. He told her that he was jealous of her grief because it was so new and raw and rich. That he missed feeling all the emotions of grief. Even though life seemed impossible while he was grieving he was grateful for his ability to feel love for his brother so deeply.

Gratitude comes in many forms. Seek it where you can and hold it to add wonder to this challenging time. 

  1. Find Your Breath

Connecting to your breath can be one of the most empowering things you can do while grieving. There are a ton of ways to start connecting to a deeper breath:

  • Going for a walk
  • Meditating
  • Yoga

Breathing practices can be done in as little as 3-5 minutes and can be used to help you release tension from your body. 

Here’s a simple one you can do anytime you are feeling overwhelmed and need to calm your nerves:

  • Find a comfortable seat (or in your car, or in the supermarket line).
  • Place a hand over your abdomen and one on your heart (if not driving).
  • Allow your belly to gently inflate as you inhale through your nose.
  • Hold for a moment at the top to notice your nice full round belly.
  • Exhale gently through your mouth while making a drawn-out “SSSHHHHHHHH” sound. (like air leaking out of a tire)
  • Repeat 5-10 times. 

In Chinese medicine, grief is housed in our lungs. You can begin to release the pain associated with grief by healing your lungs. This is done through conscious breathing practices like the one listed above. 

  1. Take Time For Yourself

This is the time to practice self-care. Your loving family and friends have their own grief issues and can only support you so far. Grief is often a road we walk alone. This doesn’t mean hide it away or bury it inside– it means you must find a way to build a life around it. Like planting a garden, you allow room for growth. Taking time for yourself to process is a big part of moving through uncertainty. Consider…

  • Taking your grief for a walk
  • Treating your grief to a bath
  • Visiting your grief in a photo album or home video

The trick is to allow grief to be there without consuming you. Refer often to the breath practice here or find one that works for you. I have a Breathing Through Grief meditation on my YouTube channel and many other breathing practices to choose from. Explore the best practices for you, so you have that toolbox built.

Just as you allow happiness to flow into your life, allow grief to do the same. It’s okay to openly grieve and let others know this is a challenging time for you. Be kind to yourself this holiday and turn towards your breath to help the emotions pass through with ease. 

If you are interested in joining me this coming Sunday at St. Matthews Church in the Renton Highlands, I will be leading, along with Pastor Kacey Hahn, our Breathing Through Grief workshop. In this 90-minute session, we will explore what it means to grieve through the holidays. 

I would love to hear from you and know what works for you when you feel overwhelmed by grief. And if you need a nonpartisan voice to listen to please contact the 24-hour crisis hotline at 206-461-3222

In closing, remember you are not alone. When grief is shared we find that many are dealing with their own set of grievances and together we can find a light to carry us through. 

Calming Breathing Practices to Help Your Little Monster Survive Halloween Fright!

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 

  • Sensory overload
  • Overactive imagination
  • High Anxiety

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.

Belly Breathing

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.

Spooky Breathing

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…

Trick or Treat and don’t forget to breathe deep!

Renew Your Life By Building An Intimate Relationship To Self

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
  • Self-worth
  • Creative inspiration
  • 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.

The Big Lie About Meditation and How to Break the Myths

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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

  1. 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. 

Never once. 

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. 

Mindfulness 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. 

What Autumn Can Teach Us About Gracefully Letting Go

Accepting What Is and Releasing What Has Passed

Autumn is here and with the changing season comes an opportunity for change within our own lives. Fall teaches us how beautiful it can be to let go. To let the leaves of our past transform into vibrant red, orange, and yellow memories – Memories we shed without fear knowing new revitalization is on the way. The days are getting shorter and we prepare for winter by watching nature release to the earth what no longer serves. What a great example and leader for our own lives. 

Let us be like nature and gracefully let go. Accepting the circle of all things that arise and dissipate in this life. All things have a beginning and an end. 

Our breath is fluid within us from the first inhale to the final exhale. A constant reminder of the ebb and flow within our own internal ecosystem. Fall is a great time to get outside and breathe deep into our lives and let go of what no longer serves us so that we too can transform.

Accepting What Is

Acceptance is the answer to all things. It puts in the ever eternal now and helps us be at peace with all that is. If you seek lasting joy and happiness then the wisdom of acceptance is part of your path. When we attach to anything too much it ends up owning and controlling us. This includes the ego, our internal source of all dissatisfaction. 

Taking a walk beneath the changing colors of autumn reflects to us how joyful release can be. In spring we wonder at the new growth of the tree so delicate and fresh, and in fall we explore the crisp rich colors crunching beneath our feet. The air is fresh and we find ourselves another year older. Now is a great time to ask ourselves…

  • What am I ready to let go of?
  • What am I ready to accept?
  • What areas of my life need change?

We tend to hold on to things, people, jobs, and memories as though they define who we are or our importance in this world. We forget that all things flow like a leaf breaking from a branch to float along a stream. Change is inevitable. You must choose to either accept what is or resist and be angry when change happens without your acceptance or permission because it will. To live in the beauty of this moment you must let go of fear and stand in harmony with the cycle of all things.

Willing to Let Go

Trees are so beautiful and strong. Confidently they shed their lush covering and allow themselves to be exposed to the harsh world of winter. The trees understand that in shedding what no longer serves them they can draw more energy within to help them survive all winter so that in spring they can begin the process again. 

There are things in your life right now that are holding you back. Things that are stealing your energy and preventing you from making the necessary transformation and growth in your own life. Now is the time to ask…

  • What am I afraid will happen if I let this go?
  • Where is my energy better spent?
  • What inside of me is ready to transform?

Letting go takes trust. Autumn is a reminder of the earth’s promise to us. We know that every season will be followed by the next, yet we have a challenge accepting this in our own lives. A new day is waiting, but we must shed the old growth to make room for the new. 

Reflect on your life right now. Everything in your life is a result of new beginnings and things you’ve let go. The house, the job, the relationships, all of it a cycle in and of itself. We can see this in nature and our own lives, but we all get stuck on what is possible when we focus on comfort over growth. 

Winter is dark and cold but promises renewal if we are willing to risk being exposed to the hard truths of life. Allow fall to help you let go, find strength, and prepare for what’s to come. 

Breathing Into Fall

Autumn is a time to reflect on what has come to pass. A time of harvest, and a time to clear out stagnation in our internal landscape to prepare for a new season. Breathwork helps move trapped energy through our body. It’s a way of processing unresolved emotions and suppressed feelings without having to relive trauma. It is a way for our internal world to support us through the seasonal changes of our own lives. 

We can use our breath to release from our body and mind what is no longer needed. We can let go and focus our energy on growth, joy, acceptance, and gratitude. Mindful, conscious breathing is a way to move out the trapped emotions of your past so you can let go and confidently move towards new growth. 

Below is a guided breathing meditation. It is written to be done seated or lying down at home. You can also modify it to be used while walking through the autumn fall – A way to help move stuck energy and allow yourself to gracefully let go and move into acceptance of what is. 

Guided Breath Meditation for Letting Go

There is an audio recording of this guided breath meditation on my YouTube Channel. You can access it here. 

  • Take a comfortable seat or lay down. Allow your back to float long and find ease in the body. 
  • Soften your gaze and bring your attention to the tip of your nose. Becoming aware of each inhale and each exhale.
  • Slowly begin to lengthen each inhale through the nose. 
  • Exhale out the mouth, slow, long, and mindfully.
  • Mindfully bring each breath deep into your belly as you allow it to expand on the inhale and relax on the exhale.
  • Let your breath be the most interesting thing in your world, allowing thoughts to float in and out of your mind like clouds passing on a summer day.
  • Notice your body relaxing more with each exhale.
  • Close your eyes and see yourself in nature. 
    • Notice the colors
    • Notice the temperature
    • Notice the smells
    • Notice the sounds
    • Notice all you can about your scenery
    • Notice the emotions you are feeling
  • After you have settled into a clear vision, focus your thoughts on one thing you would like to release attachment from.
  • Keep focused on that one thing and deepen your breath around it. Use every inhale to bring in gratitude for all it has given to your life and use every exhale to gracefully release it to the world.
  • Continue this for 10 or so rounds of breath.
  • Now shift your attention to the transformation. 
    • Imagine your life once you’ve let go of this one thing. 
    • Imagine the positive impact this change will have.
  • Dwell here in this new reality as long as it feels good. When you are ready to end this breathing meditation, take a few deep rounds of breath and move into a final stretch
    • Circle sweep your arms wide and up to the sky on an inhale, bringing your hands together in prayer.
    • Exhale as you guide your hands down through your center line and allow them to rest in your heart center for 2-3 more rounds of breath.
  • When you are ready, blink open your eyes, and allow the sensations you are feeling to guide you into acceptance.

Breathwork is a great way to let go and heal. If you are interested in learning more follow me on Instagram at Breath_Mindset and join my 4-week online course, Breath Mindset. 

Navigating Pandemic-Induced Grief

Moving Forward and Transforming the Pain

“Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” – C. S. Lewis

In March of 2020 our relatively stable lives and economy were uprooted. The news became a constant stream of COVID-19 questions and concerns. With no solution or cure to be found we all went into lockdown. Little did we know at the time that it would take roughly two years before we were tip-toeing back into society. Collectively we experienced an incredible amount of trauma and it feels like no one is talking about it.

With limited opportunities for us to get out and experience our family, friends, and work life we had to face this new reality alone. We sat home alone in our grief as we realized things would never be the same again. The loss and pain that comes from a dramatic change in our day-to-day life can be overwhelming. 

Now that we are out living our lives once again it is time to start processing the huge emotional shift the last two years have caused. 

Lockdown

You remember the early days of the pandemic. Everyone was shocked but also enjoying some downtime at home. We were all baking bread and re-organizing our rooms and giving lots of unwanted items to Goodwill. But then, what we thought was going to be 3 weeks dragged on for another 2 years. We began hopping on Zoom calls with our friends and drinking wine in the middle of the day, and we started to realize how precious our fragile economy was.

People started to break up and our mental health plummeted. We were not okay. And as a result, we were realizing that we haven’t been happy in our lives or at our jobs, and we started grieving, at home, by ourselves, in a very unhealthy way. 

We were home, but we realized we had been burnt out, and we were used to living with a lack of focus and endless fatigue. 

We hadn’t had time to stop and breathe and because of that, we didn’t know how to stop and breathe.

Suddenly we were less engaged with friends and family online. We became tired of Zoom, and the Great Resignation began. 

As we headed into year 2, with no end date in sight, we became more divided as a nation. Polarized by politics and caught between doing what is right and taking care of our mental health. 

Two years isn’t long in the grand scheme of things, but it shifts how we communicate, do business, and how comfortable we are in a large room of people. 

The world opens up

Slowly we emerge on the other side. COVID still moves silently among us. It is more contagious but less deadly and it’s time to get our lives back on track. 

Now the fear of socializing begins. Now we must relearn how to leave the house. How to show up for events, and how to be responsible for ourselves and each other as we do so. 

For many, this has been equally as challenging. Many are questioning what this post-pandemic life will be like. Many are feeling anxious about the future and question whether or not we will need to shelter in place once more. 

There is a void, and we are all seeking new common ground in a world that has been utterly shaken. 

Working Through Pandemic-Induced Grief

Most of us shy away from feelings of grief. We understand the overwhelming effect grief has on the body and would prefer not to feel that pain. This is one of the reasons it’s so hard to connect with someone who just lost a loved one in death. We understand their suffering and we don’t want to acknowledge that hurt and unhealed wound inside of us, so we stay nothing, or we stay away. 

This makes grief one of the most challenging emotions to breathe through. Although we collectively understand that grief is inevitable, it is also one of the hardest to face. 

Grief is a form of love. Love that has been lost in some fashion. When we turn our thoughts toward love, transformation can begin and we heal and grow. It is when we decide to stuff it in and not deal with the hard emotions of grief that trouble arises. Overworking, substance abuse and isolation are common masking tools that might numb the pain but result in illness, depression, or more grief.

Collective Healing

It is time to come together and heal from this pandemic. I am thrilled to be joining forces with Pastor Kacey Hanh from St. Matthews Church in the Renton Highlands to bring you Breathing Through Grief: A three-part series dedicated to helping our community heal.

The first of the three is Oct. 2 and we will focus on this very topic. We will come together and breathe through the hard and uncomfortable. We will support each other through the grief and come out stronger together on the other side. 

This 90-minute workshop is open to all regardless of gender, race, sexual preference, or religious affiliations. Grief is a common thread and together we will always be stronger. 

This is a time to listen, share, breathe, and explore. Grief is love that we don’t move on from, but that we are open to moving forward with new eyes and appreciation. 

Learn more about all 3 workshops and register by clicking the link here.