The Shine Mentality Tip of the Week – Breathe Deeply
For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
I’m a creature of habit. I tend to follow the same routine every morning. My feet touch the floor and I’m instantly greeted by my furry-friend, Duke. He becomes my little shadow as he follows me into the bathroom while I brush my teeth. Then out to the kitchen, we go. My coffee begins to brew, and like clock-work, I start my standard yoga stretches while Duke tries his best to grab my attention. I pour my coffee into only my favorite of mugs and then plop down in my cozy created space and give myself a gift. It isn’t the gift most would expect.
I pause, slow down and breathe deeply. I settle into my own skin and notice where tension has taken up residence within me. Then I reflect on what I’m holding inside. I’ll admit it isn’t always an easy process but the end result is always the same. It settles my soul, calms my busy mind, softens my stressed muscles and opens my heart to hear. They say there is an 18-inch path from our head to our heart and I believe for most of us this passageway has been intentionally closed off or clogged with things we were meant to let go of.
My experience over the last 15 years as a counselor has taught me that we not only struggle to know how to breathe deeply, we often don’t want to! Somewhere along the way we have learned to push down, deny what is inside, and press on as the only answer.
Deep breathing is always one of the first skills I teach a client, yet one of the hardest for them to embrace. When we pause to breathe, it makes things come alive in us we often don’t want to feel. So we tighten up and clog the passageway. Of course, the result of a clogged passageway is it eventually explodes and collapses under the pressure.
Ian Cron, an author and expert on the Enneagram, mentioned in his podcast that: “We are not awake to our true selves. We go through life asleep and lost in the fictional narrative we have come to believe. There is no way out of this except through a higher source.”
Over the years I’ve been saddened to see so many hearts not fully awake to who they truly are and not beating in the way they were intended. When we block the passageway from our head to our heart, we stop the full expression of who we are from being released. We get stuck in stories we don’t want to live, and we decide that it is just too painful to breathe fully. The tension bounces around inside of us blocking God’s voice and we struggle with thoughts that lead us farther from who we were designed to be.
Have you ever noticed that one of the first things to happen when you are stressed or afraid is you hold your breath or breathe quickly and erratically? Ironically, it is exactly the opposite reaction we need to have. Shallow, non-rhythmic breathing perpetuates panic and dis-EASE! A deep, long, slow, calming exhale relaxes our bodies, calms our minds, and quells anxiety. Or at least that is what God originally designed the exhale to do.
Here is a little anatomy lesson. The exhale is connected to the parasympathetic nervous system – the system in the brain that settles us. Unfortunately, in our overwhelmed, deeply burdened culture we’ve messed up the mechanisms within our brains and we are often living stuck in the part of the brain that is hypervigilant and threat-fearing.
How do we then get back to our original design and our truest selves? First, we have to unclog the passageway from our head to our heart. We have been believing false stories that say “we aren’t enough”, “we’re damaged”, “we’ll never get better” or “We’ve failed”. This isn’t the story God wrote for us. He has so much he wants to tell us about how beautifully he created us.
The only way to become truly alive is to pause to notice and face the messages we’ve held inside that are robbing us of living the life God intended. I know it is uncomfortable. It may even be terrifying for some, but without a deep, cleansing breath, we don’t fully live. Instead, we remain on autopilot and fail to experience God’s deeper presence and the world around us as he intended. This is a hard message to swallow, but in order to wake up to who we truly are, we have to be willing to take an honest look at ourselves and breath deeply no matter how painful. I promise if you do God has a better story to unravel before you.
Be Bold~ Breathe DEEPLY!