Monday, March 28, 2016

Mindful Monday- "It's All About The Breathing, Ma'am."

     These words were spoken by a soldier from West Point, who was interviewed by Brené Brown on the subject of emotion. If we want to pay attention, or be mindful, about what we are feeling, breath is the door we must crack open. In fact this same soldier made the comment below.

    Box breathing is an easy skill to learn and it will quiet the agitated mind. The technique is simple. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for four counts, breathe out for four counts, hold for four counts. A handy square visual can bring the method to mind.

     This morning I was teaching a young boy at the piano. He was frustrated with keeping a steady beat. I observed that he was holding his breath. I asked him to breathe slowly for just a minute and promised that he would get through this wall faster if he would keep breathing. I noted more relaxation. He found his breath at the same time he found his beat. This month of March I have studied breathing, both in myself and also the words of others who value this essential tactile expression of mindfulness above all others. "It's all about the breathing, ma'am."

  "The second you choose to mind your breath you have decided that this present moment, this very moment, is worthy of your full attention."
    The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi

 More mindfulness Monday posts here.

Friday, March 18, 2016


If we continually try to control uncertainty there will be no space for surprise

I don't particularity like surprises. Negative possibilities loom ever more real than positive occurrences. Sad, but true. So, how does one create space for surprise? 

Look for it!

 The picture above is an i-phone shot of my neighborhood. I drive east to the water several times a week to be surprised. The light at sunrise is never the same. 

My four year old granddaughter doesn't always like it when I come to visit on Thursdays. I take time away from her special time with Mommy. Sometimes Mommy leaves and I stay, against her will. But yesterday she, unprompted, announced that I could come everyday. Surprise!

My meditation practice is working. I feel calmer. Surprise!

I received a package from Flow Magazine and when I opened it I found German Children's books with a sweet note to a grandmother in the states. The magazine sales representative had no clue how this mix-up happened. They wonder if my package was damaged and ended up in a German postal service department where other damaged packages were repacked. Now Flow Magazine, based in the Netherlands, is resending my order, but how will the grandmother ever get her books?

"But he loves me still, he loves me through, even while, even when, 
He loves me anyway, in spit of , and more than 
When I
 slip and I fall, when I'm weak, even when I should hold on, 
He loves me still, he loves me still, and something tells me he always will."

Surprise! Always!

  I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully make sense.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mindful Monday- Developing Breath Perception

"We stop our breath as a way of attempting to bring life under control."
The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi

Another week watching and observing my breath has passed. Becoming more mindful is definitely tied to the breath. It becomes the safe haven when I can't think straight. It is ground zero when I need to recalibrate my feelings. I am in awe of the human respiratory system. I am working on breathing completely and freely.

Breathing has certain characteristics:

  1. Oscillation- the whole body oscillates and moves slightly during free breathing. This movement rises effortlessly and not from suppressing movement somewhere else.
  2. Diaphragmatic- The breath arises predominately through the action of the central diaphragm.
  3. Internal Origination- The breath rises from within rather than being pulled inside mechanically by using the outer muscles of the body. Instead of breathing we are breathed.
  4.  Multidirectional- The breath expands in all directions, radiating out, just as a full dandelion flower radiates from it's core.
  5. Calm and Regular- The breath has a feeling of being and creating calm in the body and mind. It's rhythm is regular most of the time.
  6. Two/Three/ Pause Rhythm- During quiet respiration it's normal for your inhalation to be about 2 seconds and your exhalation to be about 3 seconds followed by a pause. More simply, you breathe out a little longer than you breathe in.
  7.  Flexible- Just as waves arise in endless variation in the sea, the breath arises with endless variation and adaptability. the breath changes as our thoughts, feelings, and movement change.
  8. Effortless- The art of breathing is filled with a sense of ease and relaxation.

   Many mornings when I first wake, I feel my breath very shallow and quick. Expanding my breath, I open more deeply. During meditation, which I have successfully embraced for a full month, I kindly note how full my breath rises. Kindly is a adverb I use to follow breath. It is easy to be judgmental and assume that this very elemental action is not adequate. It has kept me alive for 62 years so I should be kind. While I exercise I watch and listen more to the in and out. I am an observer this month. Observing kindly to become more aware of my amazing body, a gift from God.

                           More mindfulness Monday posts here.

Friday, March 11, 2016


"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people;"
1 Peter 2:9

The good news of Jesus Christ is to be shared. Not pushed down another's throat but shared as a gift, most precious. I find it difficult to jump into a conversation about my Savior, even though he is vital to my happiness. Am I ashamed of him? 

Not ashamed, but I am hesitant to be thought peculiar. To stand out as someone who has values beyond honesty and niceness, can be daunting. To be chosen by God has little to do with privilege but more with responsibility. I know the mission of Jesus Christ and I covenanted to be part of his vision. I promised to share the truth that he lives. He lives, who once was dead. He lives my hungry soul to feed. He lives, to bless in time of need.

  I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully make sense.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Mindful Monday- Better Breathing

"But for many of us, when it comes to improving our health, changing our breathing somehow doesn’t spring to mind as readily as changing our diet or exercise habits."
This month of March, as part of my year of mindfulness, I am exploring and studying my own breath and breathing in general. As a breath holder, I manufacture some anxiety just from improper breathing. I'll catch myself breathing from the chest in quick shallow breaths and now I see how that affects my feelings. Long full breaths can lower your heart rate and in reverse short, shallow breathing can accelerate your heart and very quickly a feeling of unwellness rises to the conscious mind.

Having one nostril which is smaller,  I am wondering if doing some Alternate Nostril Breathing might encourage more balance. Here are the steps to that type of breathing exercise.

An alternate nostril breathing exercise – purifying breath:

Step one: Use right thumb to close off right nostril.
Step two: Inhale slowly through left nostril
Step three: Pause for a second
Step four: Now close left nostril with ring finger and release thumb off right nostril
Step five: Exhale through your right nostril
Step six: Now, inhale through right nostril
Step seven: Pause
Step eight: Use thumb to close of right nostril
Step nine: Breathe out through left nostril
Step ten: This is one round. Start slowly with 1 or 2 rounds and gradually increase.Never force.Sit quietly for a few moments after you have finished.

This book is a March read and I hope to find some help. Hopefully it won't take my breath away or make you feel I am breathing down your neck with too much information.

      "Focusing on your own breathing can have a significant impact on your well-being and stress levels, and can even create physiological changes             like lowering your blood pressure."

                         More mindfulness Monday posts here.

Friday, March 4, 2016


Take a deep breath

The news might just stop your ability to breathe. There is the presidential hoopla, gasp, the monetary crisis, gasp, the change of climate prognosis, gasp, the health scares all around, and I gasp for breath. The news is taking my breath away. 

As I sit in mediation each morning, I think of other news. 

I breathe in hope

I gather all that I know of Jesus Christ and breathe in his good news.

I breathe out faith

I let go of my own fears and expectations and surrender to my faith in him.

I hold charity

I hold the exhale and let the word charity, the pure love of Christ, stay suspended for a brief second, thinking on that more excellent way, praying that I might have that gift today.

It works, most days, and holds the bad news at bay.

  I write on Fridays with a large group who inspire me. Only five minutes and without much thought to perfection. I write, prompted by one word that sends my thoughts to the keyboard and hopefully make sense.