WILLETT WORDS OF WISDOM
BREATHE TO FIND YOUR HEARTBEAT, YOUR UNIQUE RYTHMN OF LIFE
As any of you who have worked with me know, I cannot say enough about the power of breath. During our first session, we focus a good deal on the breath; and, we begin each subsequent session with breath awareness. It’s always interesting to see how people respond to so much time bringing awareness to their breath. For some, they are eager to get to the workout beyond the breathing so to say. For others, it seems to be a bit of a waste of time. Some seem to revel in this time finding it peaceful and enlivening. Perhaps the breath is something we take for granted, thinking we don’t need to focus on it. Perhaps it is something that is confronting – after all, getting quiet and focusing on breath can be new and uncomfortable for many of us. In my work, in my practices, and in my teaching, it all begins with breath. Breath brings awareness. Breath is movement. Breath is underneath all other movement. Breath brings focus, and life.
Each morning, I set aside time to read and digest articles or books or information that pertains to my work as a movement specialist. Recently, I was amazed to see the title of one article Breathwork is the New Meditation. Oh my, I thought. Here comes another trendy platform that people can use to make money. And sure enough, in the days following, I saw more articles about if you do this type of breath, this will happen, and so on. Breathwork is not new. It is not a pop trend. And, it does not replace meditation.
I often say that if someone tells you there is only one type of breath, fire them. There are so many ways to breathe, as there are so many ways to live, as there are so many different spirits, as there are so many different bodies that house those unique spirits.
As Joe Pilates said, “Breathing is the first act of life and the last. Our very life depends on it.” You see breath referenced in poetry, philosophy, literature, movies. The intriguing thing is that we don’t really have to think about breath. Yet, the breath is powerful. And thinking about it and tuning in to it is where the magic happens. It is where we become self-aware. It is the beginning of bringing about positive shifts in our lives. It is the foundation for movement in our lives.
Take a moment to sit or lie down comfortably. Tune into your breath. Notice the rhythm. Notice the movement. Visualize the diaphragm pulling down on an inhale and sliding up on the exhale, a movement which for many seems counterintuitive. Notice how the diaphragm is pulling down toward the dense liver on the right side, the stomach on the left side and other organs. Then, notice how it comes up to ‘kiss’ the heart on the exhale, creating a dance among the organs. This also creates a gentle pull on the spine and a noticeable movement throughout the entire torso. Play with the breath. Try to feel it in your side ribs. Try to feel it in your back. Move it down low to your pelvic bowl. Pay attention to how your body responds to each breath.
Now put your hands on your heart. It is in the general area of your left breast. Try to find the beat. Don’t worry if you can’t at first. Again, keep focusing on the breath and its movement. The heart beat is an interoceptive sensation. It involves you feeling from the inside (similar to feeling when you have to go to the bathroom, when it is time to eat, when you need to leave the room for some reason). Fascia is highly innervated with sensory receptors for interoception. Through breath, through the movement of breath, we help open up our bodies.
Take some time each day to focus on your breath, to play with all the ways you can breathe. Notice how your body feels. Try to notice your heartbeat with your breath. If you are able to tune in to your heart beat, focus on it. It is a lovely feeling to find it. It is your unique rhythm of life. You have this beautiful heart pulsing life through you. The heart and its beautiful beat are all part of the dance of life. And it is the breath which helps us find our heart.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Anne