[Yesterday, in Day 1: Notice Your Breath, we spent time simply drawing our attention to our breath. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on thoughts.]
There is a natural movement from noticing our breath to noticing our body.
When we slow down and focus on our breathing, the crying out of those tight spots — neck, back, stomach, legs — can be more easily heard. That hike out of the woods when the toddler wanted to be carried, those heavy things hauled a few feet or far away, the way your pillow was wonky last night and the accident you have a few years ago are all written on your body. This is particularly true if we are not regularly stretching, moving and breathing in conscious ways that get us out of our daily loops of motion.
As you notice your breath, draw your attention to your body.
How does our body feel when we turn our focus to fully noticing sensations? When we take this time, even noticing our body’s involuntary reaction to an itchy spot helps us understand more about our bodies.
Wherever we notice a tightness or constriction, there will also be a loss of flow of breath. We can use our breath to create space and open a pathway for our breath (and our blood) to flow through your body freely. This leads to better health and sense of well-being for us!
As parents, this awareness of body and breath can only benefit our children.
The next time you are frustrated with your child, or when you feel angry or depressed, choose to take a few moments to notice your breath, and then move your awareness to your body. Feel your feelings in your body……and then let them go…
To release the tension we find in our body through our conscious breathing, we can:
- Focus our mind and our mind’s eye on that tight spot, moving our breath into that space as we breathe in and then releasing that tension through our outbreath. Notice the tightness increase as the breath opens and moves through stuck spots.
- Consciously relax one part of the body at a time, starting at the head or the toes and working up or down the body, piece by piece. “Relax your forehead. Relax your eyebrows. Relax your cheekbones. Relax your jaw. Relax your neck.” … and so on.
- Go with the tension and do a kind of opposite of the above relaxation. Tense each part of your body, hold for the in-breath, then release. “Tense your legs as you breathe in. Hold that tension, feeling the cleansing nature of constriction, squeezing. And release your legs, release your breath.”
This breath release and relaxation can be done lying down or sitting. (Breathing always makes me conscious of my posture.) We can breathe in the car or walking. Focusing on our breath can happen at any point in the entire day. If we all did this a bit more, we would most likely be carrying less stress to bed and waking up happier and healthier.
When I am doing this as I should, breathing consciously, my daughter will ask what I am doing. What a great opportunity to model healthy, mindful habits for living for children who are learning to process and regulate their emotions and actions.
What do you notice about your body? Where are there stuck spots? Where do things flow more freely? Do you have a sense of your whole body or are there some parts tagging along, forgotten? How can you breathe or move to gain a more whole or integrated sense of yourself?