Just Breathe

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Do you have a personal mantra?

You should.

Research shows that thinking of a word or phrase that affirms our values—and repeating it over and over—produces powerful physiological changes. It can lower our cortisol levels, enhance endurance and reduce perception of effort during physical exertion. Perhaps even more compelling, a mantra can quiet the mind…This isn’t a bad thing—as long as we’re thinking thoughts that are beneficial. But too many of us beat ourselves up, ruminating on the same negative beliefs.  Mantras can create and strengthen new neural pathways that are positive and not toxic. And that can make our brain much calmer and happier…

The earliest mantras appeared 3,500 years ago and were repetitive prayers or hymns. By the time meditative yoga developed, in the last few centuries B.C.E., mantras were being used to calm and control the mind. Modern mantras are still a sort of a prayer—for what we wish to be. They’re effective because they’re repetitive and simple, making them easy to turn into a habit. We don’t have to search for the positive thought to call up; we already have it.

People invoke mantras during times of stress…Some are just one word: “Breathe.” “Shine.” “Love.” Others are phrases: “This will pass.” “You’ve come this far, now push to go further.” How can you choose the best mantra for you? Not just any clichéd motto—“Just do it!”—will do. [Read more…]

Saturday Morning

…Under bamboos that sing to the wind
and wall the cathedral sky,
my body surges…
A rush of balsam wind boils the clouds,
roils my shirt, my skin,
enfleshing the living breath, deep and long.
Like weeding the garden: hands become weeds,
become shovel, become time.
Body becomes rhythm, becomes power;
becomes wind, becomes Mind.

A cotton cloud of ibises float after.

—Betsy Lagana Bluangtook


Notes: Poem – Thank you Beth at Alive on All Channels. Photo – Bamboo by kristof casteren

Saturday Morning


it is…quiet…morning
warm sunlight and cool,
crisp air streams through my open window.
my room is heavy with the smell
of flowers, vines, grass, and growth.
the only sounds are of…
a gentle wind chime,
and my own steady, deep breathing.

~ L. J. Buchanan, from Conceptual solitude


Photo: Heinz-Dieter with morning breeze

Morning Call

Today, if you’re confronting an issue for the ten thousandth time, or feeling that your life is going nowhere, or panicking over how little you’ve achieved, stop and breathe. You’re not falling behind on some linear race through time. You’re walking the labyrinth of life. Yes, you’re meant to move forward, but almost never in a straight line.

Martha Beck, from The Labyrinth of Life


Notes:

Sunday Morning

light-hand-jpg

We need to trust this: in the midst of our daily life activities, the possibility to slow down, to stop, and then to appreciate naturally unfolds. For a fleeting moment we pause and note the sunlight on the sheets as we make the bed, note the warm sun on our cup as we sip tea, or note the fading light on the curtain as we enter the room. And we let out a breath or sigh…

— Elizabeth Searle Lamb, from “Pausing” in Haiku Mind: 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness and Open Your Heart By Patricia Donegan


Notes: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels. Photo: via Mennyfox55

It’s been a long day

breathe-gratitude-long-day


Notes:

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call (Long Walk. Breathe Deep. Taste the Air.)

patty-maher-the-quiet-storm-photography

Take a long walk.
Breathe deep.
Taste the air.
Keep your eyes open.
Try not to think.
Wet your lips with your tongue.
Tilt your head slightly into the wind.
Separate the sound of a single stone
cracking under your boot.
Feel the difference in weight
between a milkweed seed and a blackbird’s feather.
Stray from the road on your way home
until you are waist high in wet corn.
Approach your house from the back.
Whistle for the dog with the white mark
like a crescent moon on his chest.
Look your children in the eyes when they speak to you,
and raise your eyebrows, and smile when they smile.
Notice your son’s mouth curves up on one side,
and his fingers are long and squared-off at the tips like his father’s.
Search your daughter’s right heel for the star-shaped scar
where they tapped her for blood when she was two days new.
Drop everything when your husband gets that soft, glazed look
and presses his palm into the small of your back.
Think to yourself how like the spreading roots
of a silver maple
are his hands.

Marcella Remund, How to Practice Poetry


Notes: Poem – The New Poetry. Photography: Patty Maher (The Quiet Storm)

Breathe, babe, breathe

eric-rose-sleeping

I knelt beside him. “Breathe, babe, breathe,” I said to him, little puffs accompanying each word…After running a bunch of tests they decided that John had…No heart attack, as they had first surmised.  All of that was pretty memorable. But what I remember the most vividly is this: later that day, I was driving the rental car down some minor highway, the snow surrounding us still, a house here and there, both John and Maya asleep, and I felt a soaring sense of euphoria. Not a hallucinogenic euphoria. It was an earthly euphoria, one of the most grounded feelings, in fact, that I can ever remember having.

This is my person. This is my baby. They are both safe, sleeping. This is the snow. These are my strong hands on the steering wheel. This is my life. This is all there is. And it is so fragile. And beyond enough.

It is these moments that we fear, these moments that are inevitable, that put us in touch with a proportionate sense of gratitude for just how lucky we are to live on this earth for even one day.

I’m not claiming that’s any consolation for the suffering — particularly for those who don’t get the comparatively gentle perspective borne of close calls, but the brutal realization of disease and death. I’m just acutely aware of how much more accurately we weigh our own small lives when we touch into just how vast and inevitable loss really is. Time slows down. Our senses are empowered. The sound of a peacefully sleeping person that you love becomes what it really is, the most sacred sound in the entire universe.

~ Courtney E. Martin, from The Shocking Clarity of Almost Losing it All (On Being, Dec 16, 2016)


Photo: Eric Rose

Sunday Morning

wind-air-breathe-jpg

To
take into the air
my quiet breath…

~ John Keats, from Ode to a Nightingale 

 


Photo: Margaret Durow via sotick

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