Jul 28, 2016
Episode 113 Being well with Lauren
Life source breathing a simple exercise in happiness
Hello, Lauren here. I am a mum of four incredibly awesome, amazing children including twins. I am a passionate blogger, podcaster, writer, personal trainer, and You Tuber. My podcast is about spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. Welcome to my podcast
Today I read from my book 'Daily Rituals For Happiness' a simple exercise I call 'life source breathing....
"This idea of space is a really important to me because for much of my life, I simply did not allow myself any room for happiness. I was too busy rushing around, keeping fit for my next triathlon, trying to find or keep a relationship, seeking approval from others, gaining another qualification, holding onto the past, and worrying obsessively about the future. Does this sound like you? So many of us have lives like this. We are busy, distracted and bouncing around without any true focus or clarity. We keep looking towards a brighter future that never seems to arrive, rather than experiencing happiness in the now. We allow ourselves to be drawn into other people’s stories. We ruminate, we obsess and we overthink our lives. On top of that, will fill our physical environment with all kinds of possessions. We fill our bodies with junk. We try to cram so much into every single day that our lives end up being overcrowded. It is no wonder we lack the space to be happy.
Space can be defined as being a continuous area or expanse which is free and available. Just think about those words ‘free’ and ‘available’ for a moment. What do they mean to you? How do you feel when you say them out loud? What images appear in your mind? For me, I imagine feeling free to love, free to run, free to be myself, and free to be available to possibility and opportunity. I visualise myself walking along the beach, holding hands with a friend, playing with my children, or laughing with friends. I also imagine a spacious room with natural light streaming in as I meditate in contentment. You might like to write about your responses to these words or draw images of them in your journal. Ask yourself if you have a sense of freedom and availability in your life.
Often we end up being distracted and cluttered by habits, objects, people and places that take us away from ourselves and our happiness. So how do we get this back? How do we get back to our true selves? When we create space, it is like pruning back an overgrown tree and seeing the sun shine through the branches. When we clear away the physical and emotional clutter in our lives, we are making room to focus upon one sensation at a time. We allow ourselves the calmness and clarity to practice the art of noticing and to become fully aware of ourselves and our surroundings. We also rediscover what really matters to us and can begin to see who we really are.
As I went through the process of grieving after my marriage ended, there were several stages when I needed to create space in order to heal and be happy. I kept so much stuff from my marriage. I had in a treasured box every card and letter my ex-husband ever sent me, along with gifts and other things which reminded me of my married life. And yes, at times I would look inside this box and reminisce. Sometimes it is positive to hold on to memories, but in this situation, all this stuff was taking up space and keeping me stuck in the past. It was cluttering up my mind and stopping me from moving on. On one occasion, one of my friends pointed in frustration at a wedding picture still displayed on the kitchen buffet and said, “For heaven's sake, get that dinosaur out!” After a while, my girlfriends began coming over to my house and to help me declutter. With their assistance, I cleared out the house and let go of the things I no longer needed. The funny thing was that as much as I felt better when I decluttered and gave things away, it was still hard for me to let go. I think this is because we sometimes allow our emotional baggage to define us so much that we almost become attached to it. I think that’s what it was like for me.
Life-source breathing exercise
This is a pranayamic inspired breathing exercise to help you create the space to be in the moment. I find pranayamic breathing to be incredibly healing in my own journey, especially when I feel overwhelmed or a lack of balance. Prana is a Sanskrit (ancient language of India) word for ‘life force’, and yama means ‘to control’. Pranayama therefore means regulating the breath or respiration. The way we do this is through the formal practice of exercises that control the breath in order that we may feel aware, in the present moment, and vital. Prana or life force enters the body through the action of breathing. Likewise, breath is life – not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. According to ancient Indian belief, if the prana level is high and its flow is continuous and unencumbered, the mind remains calm, positive and motivated. However, due to lack of practice and attention to one’s breath, the breath may become restricted or limited. When our breathing does become restricted, feelings of anxiety and fear or a lack of self-awareness may increase. By practicing pranayamic breathing, you are essentially increasing your lung capacity and learning to sit with the experience of each breath.
Please be aware that the practice of pranayama is an ancient practice and requires skill. The reason I would like to use a pranayamic inspired exercise here is the pattern of our breath and the amount of lung capacity we use tells us so much about our awareness of our surroundings, our space and our self. Inspired by pranayamic breathing techniques, I call this exercise life-source breathing because it reminds us that we are alive now and brings us back to the source – which is ourselves. Breathing is one physical act which clearly relates a physical action to our emotional state. Long-term practice can help with our focus and self-awareness. This exercise is intended to be both physical and mindful. It is suitable for beginners, although I must admit that it is also one I do daily.
Before you start
As with any physical practice, it is a good idea to consult your doctor before you start this pranayamic inspired breathing. There are also some environmental requirements you will need to put in place before you begin. It is better to be in a comfortable environment with a room temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold. Make sure your airways are open and spacious. Blow your nose before you start so the air passages are clear for nasal breathing. And of course, don't practice if you are feeling unwell. Pay attention to how you sit, whether that is on a chair or cross legged on the floor or a cushion, and keep your back straight. Remember that your practice is just that: a practice. Start with one to two minutes a day. Yes, you read correctly. I did say one to two minutes a day. This is not about quantity; it is about practice and quality. There are so many times throughout my day that I sit down for one minute and consciously do life-source breathing.
As you sit quietly and breathe, imagine an open space and visualise the journey of the breath and the life force energy that is created through the act of nasal breathing. Really notice the here and now and connect this sense of presence to each breath. As you find your breath slowing down, gradually notice your chest, your throat, your limbs and other areas of your body separately and with focus, then let each one go. Allow yourself to physically let go the whole of your body as one. Feel the life force of breath touch and revitalise each part of the body. Give particular focus to your heart space, which is the area around your heart. This is the source of self-awareness and compassion. Sometimes I may place my left hand for a moment upon my own heart space to feel my heartbeat as I focus on the rise and fall of my chest with each breath. I find this works as a trigger for me to let go. Become aware of the relaxed sensation in your body and consciously allow that feeling to travel down your spine. During this time imagine space, infinite space, stillness and quiet. Inner calmness will then be experienced.
I want you to pause now and just observe your breath. Notice its quality and length, without any judgment or expectation. What is it telling you? Notice the effect of lengthening and deepening the breath. How does this pattern of breathing make you feel? Practice the art of noticing your breathing around particular places, spaces and people. Record your observations in your journal. Try to tune in to what your breath is telling you. When we are happy, our breath is unimpeded. Our self-awareness is at one with our physical self. By breathing and taking the time to be still, we can create the mindful space within us to allow us to feel happy." (read from Lauren Ostrowski's book Daily Rituals For Happiness available on Amazon
What did you learn from this exercise? Did you find it useful? I find it really helps in my daily happiness practice. What did you think? I would love to hear from you.
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My name is Lauren. I am a writer, life coach, meditation/yoga teacher, & ASMRtist. I make ASMR and self help videos and write books about happiness, yoga, fitness, meditation, & wellbeing.
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