In a time and place where many of us feel stressed, afraid, and divided... I want to call some attention to something every single human being has in common. Something that unites, sustains, and heals us.
You might have heard me mention 'breath work' in a passing blog.
Though 'Breath Work' might sound like a bourgeois surgical procedure some Beverly Hills influencer might get done every month to keep their breath minty fresh... it's actually something else entirely. Something ancient and occasionally spiritual.
You might already have some experience manipulating your breath... through swimming, yoga, martial arts, or other athletic activities. Maybe you've noticed interesting breath techniques as part of a dance or theatre piece, or witnessed the subtle ways breath is affected in heightened emotional states or meditation.
There are dozens of breath work methods out there. I've done a lot of belly-breathing and intentional diaphragm awareness work through singing lessons. I've found my stride with breath in dance and yoga. I've participated in breath work sound bath therapy with Guy Douglas, which is an absolutely life-altering experience that he tours with all over the US, in schools, corporate events, prisons, churches, private studios, and on beaches. I've used mindful breathing to quell stress and anxiety, and talk myself through an asthma attack on the streets of New York. I've used breath to increase my stamina and physical power for some very demanding, cardio-heavy shows.
Over the past month, I have been using the Wim Hof method of breathing, for a host of physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. But just in the past three days, I've been doing a specific 6-round, advanced series, in the mornings, with my roommates, on a yoga mat in the backyard. I follow my bodily intuitions through the rounds and sit, lay or stretch as the breath continues. I sometimes work the breath in Child's Pose or Cat/Cow.
The effects are not subtle. I feel my body and brain and deeper self upgrading with the passing of each round. I feel a shedding of old beliefs and patterns that don't serve my new and improved self. I feel my blood oxygenating. I feel my lungs strengthening. AND I, not so casually, feel a deep connection to all of humanity across time and space. I feel unity, not just with the people I know and our shared experiences. I feel unity with every cell in my body and every molecule of the earth. It is powerful and transcendent, and often emotional (I have laughed and cried through some of the rounds).
Medical doctors have researched and confirmed the physical benefits of such work:
Breath Work oxygenates and alkalizes your blood pH: Alkaline bodies are more healing and less prone to chronic sickness.
Breath Work has an anti inflammatory effect: it is recommended for people with auto immune disorders.
Breath Work increases smooth muscle contractions and improves muscle tone: this online fact surprised me until I looked at my abs in the mirror this morning. :)
Breath Work can increase feelings of relaxation, clarity, gratitude, and bliss: it's an excellent stress reliever and mood booster.
If it wasn't already clear, breath work is not only effective and safe (though those with heart conditions may want to play it safe and monitor their bodily reactions), it is free and anyone can do it. There are many resources for paying to practice and learn in group retreats or with private practitioners, but the benefits can be seen and felt with a simple daily practice that works for your exact needs and schedule.
Give yourself 15-45 minutes of uninterrupted time, make yourself cozy, and be gentle and forgiving on yourself. Make the process less about putting in effort, and more about releasing all the stuff you've been carrying around. Devote some time to you, and you'll be able to tackle your day with a little more calm, clarity, even zeal. Put some extra oxygen in your bloodstream for the good fight. :)
Post-Blog Notice To Readers
For the foreseeable future, I will be adding resources to assist the Black Lives Matter Movement at the end of my daily blogs, whether the blog content is directly related to Black Lives Matter or the fight to end police brutality in America.
Campaign Zero: We Can End Police Violence In America - Clear explanations and actions you can take in the fight to end police violence
National Bail Fund - Donate to help bail out protestors nationally or by city
Black Lives Matter Action Page - Protest map, ways to help with or without money, FAQ
Youtube BLM Fundraiser - An easy way to send ad revenue to the Black Lives Matter cause. (Don't skip the ads and leave it running all day).