Daily Practice to Use Your Breath for Self-Awareness & Healing
Find a quiet space to get comfortable.
I like to sit on a bolster with my back against the wall as it makes me feel safe and supported but find what works for you. If deep breathing feels particularly challenging, it may feel better to lie on your back with a bolster or rolled up blanket under your knees.
Close your eyes and slow down your breath. Take a long inhale and full complete exhale through your nose. If you’re working with stress or anxiety, make your exhale longer than your inhale.
Next, focus on sending your breath down into your belly. Allow it to move – expanding on the inhale and drawing gently in on the exhale.
Feel the quality of your breath. Does it feel easy and soothing or tight and restrained?
If you find a restriction, gently guide your breath to exactly where in your body you feel it or as close to that spot as you can. Do this for at least 5-10 breaths.
Notice what happens when you simply allow yourself to be a witness. Step away from needing to solve or beating yourself up for struggling. Just breathe and feel what happens.
Next, focus on sending your breath into your rib cage, particularly the sides and back of your ribs. Imagine your lungs as wings, unfurling and spreading wide across your back as you inhale and drawing back in on the exhale.
Repeat the same exercise as above: Feel the quality of your breath. Does it feel easy and soothing or tight and restrained?
Next, focus on your chest, upper back and throat and repeat the exercise again.
Often doing this scan, I’ll find that thought I might be over an experience in my mind, I’ve been unknowingly holding a tension pattern in my body. Sometimes it’s enough to simply breathe, feel it and let it go. Other times, this exercise shines a light on where I need to do work.
For example, a tightness in my throat usually highlights that there’s something I haven’t said or I may be feeling challenged in my teaching to use my words to more effectively communicate with my students.
This is a great exercise for thing in the morning though you can practice it anytime you have an opportunity. Give yourself 10 minutes to start. Somedays you may need more or less time but everytime you check back in with yourself you slowly build your awareness and increase your resilience and capacity to be your own best healer.