BREATHING GIVES US MORE THAN OXYGEN by Ilona Curry
Our most natural impulse is to breathe. Our most basic understanding of breathing is that is provides our organs and bodies with much needed Oxygen and expels the unneeded Carbon-Dioxide providing a cycle of air that nourishes our bodies and then nourishes the environment around us.
Breathing provides us with so much more. While every inhale does indeed provide us with much needed Oxygen, it also provides us with life force energy. This life force energy, extracted by our olfactory organ, located at the back of our nasal passages, connects us to the Universe. This life force energy connects me to my husband, to my son, to my neighbor, to the stranger I meet on the street, to everyone. It is what unites us as one. Nasal breathing is the most efficient way to not only supply our body with Oxygen, but to connect us to the Universe through the life force energy.
In addition to these life sustaining properties, breathing, or more specifically, focused breathwork, can provide various other benefits including, but not limited to cleansing our lungs, stress release, relaxation, increasing our focus, providing a focal point for meditation, providing moments of calm in times of chaos or conflict, etc. There are hundreds, if not thousands of patterns for focused breathing, each one providing its own benefit, some providing multiple benefits.
My meditation teacher provided me with one of my favorite breathing patterns. This particular breathing pattern is good to use as a calming tool. You can use it in moments of conflict (internal or with others), in moments of stress, and also at times when you need to bring your focus back to the moment. This breathing pattern works to reduce stress and provide calm because it tricks our flight-or-fight impulse. Normally, stressful situations, or think, if you will of a momentary fright, where you suck in a bunch of air in a moment of surprise and this results in a fraction of time where you hold your breath. This provides adrenaline to our bodies and prepares us for the “inevitable” fight-or-flight that is to come. But what if, by controlling our breath, we can prevent that adrenaline release, allowing us to remain calm and make rational, well-thought decisions? You can!! This, like using any other new tool, requires practice. You can practice in non-stressful situations so that when you NEED to use it, you know what it feels like and you recognize that calm that will allow you to think, prepare and react appropriately.
INSTRUCTION Begin by inhaling through your nose for 3 seconds. Then exhale through your nose for 3 seconds. Then hold your breath for 3 second. Repeat this pattern for a total of 3 times.
That’s it. At the end of the 3rd cycle, return to normal breathing. Notice the calm that you feel in your mind. Notice that some of the tension has released from your muscles. Notice that you now have a moment to think, to analyze. Notice that your thoughts are not coming in at 100 miles per hour. Practicing this breathing pattern every day will allow you to use this breathing pattern when you really need it. One of the best parts is that you can use this breathing pattern in a moment of conflict and stress and no one will no know, but you!
Another of my favorite breathing patterns is called Kapalabhati and comes from Yoga. Kapalabhati is a Sanskrit word that when translated means “skull shining.” This is because after you have practiced this breathing pattern you may feel a buzzing, or “clean” feeling in your head. It really is bizarre to try to describe the feeling, and even more intricate to explain, in text, how to perform it. But I will try. One of the main physical benefits of Kapalabhati is that is cleanses our lungs. When we breathe, we have oxygen that circulates through our bodies In addition, we have some air that stays in our lungs, stagnant, holding the toxins from the air and environment within our bodies. Kapalabhati breathing helps us to expel that stagnant air, replacing it with fresh air. Repeated practice of Kapalabhati provides us with fresh air in our lungs allowing for more efficient use of our lungs. This is a timed exercise. You will need the following timers: 30 seconds, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 45 seconds, 60 seconds, 60 seconds. The second cycle of matching time (i.e. the 2nd 30 second time period, the 2nd 45 second time period, etc) are for the retention (holding) of the breath. If you have a heart or lung condition, have had recent heart or lung surgery, or have high blood pressure, you should NOT retain (hold) your breath, but rather breathe normally during that time cycle.
INSTRUCTION: Sitting in a comfortable position, close your eyes. Rest your hands comfortably on your lap. (if you are familiar with mudras (from yoga) you can use the Chi Mudra). When you start your timer, you will snap your abdomen/diaphragm expelling air very quickly through your nostrils, and then quickly relax your abdomen/diaphragm allowing the natural motion to create a natural inhale through your nostrils (not a forced inhale). You will continue this at a rate that is comfortable for you for 30 seconds. Next take a slow deep breath in, and a slow relaxed exhale. One more slow, deep inhale, and then start your timer for your 30 second retention. REMINDER….if you have the health conditions mentioned above, you should NOT retain the breath, but rather, return to normal breathing. At the end of the 30 seconds, repeat the full, slow, deep inhale, exhale, inhale, and then start your 45 second forced exhale breathing. Continue through this cycle, repeating the deep breath, the retention, and then continue through the 60 second cycle.
Not only does this breathing pattern help to clear out your lungs, but also it provides you with increased focus as you are providing your body good clean oxygen to circulate. This is a great morning practice, but can be done any time of day that works for you.
Finally, another calming breathing pattern is called box breathing. As with any of the breathing patterns, practicing this provides us with focus and clarity. Giving our mind something to focus on (the breath pattern) other than outside stimuli will give our minds time to rest, to reset and re-focus. Box breathing is great to use if you have trouble falling asleep and can be a great sleep aid. Remember, it takes practice and you may not see a result the first time you try it.
INSTRUCTION: Box breathing is simply a matched inhale, hold, exhale, hold pattern of breathing. One can start with a short time sequence, and as you build confidence, lung capacity, and strength, you can increase the time not only for the inhale, exhale, hold, but also the length of time you practice. Begin with a 2 minute commitment. Set a timer so that at the end of 2 minutes you can return to normal breathing and take inventory of your body, mind and thoughts, to see how this practice has impacted you. You can pick your own time for the actual breath pattern, but I would start with a minimum of 4 seconds. Once you are seated comfortably, take a long, slow, deep inhale through your nostrils. Then slowly exhale, through your nostrils. Your next inhale will be for a count of 4. Retain your breath for a count of 4. Exhale for a count of 4. Hold for a count of 4. At the end of your 2 minute time, take another slow, long, deep inhale through your nostrils, exhale slowly through your nostrils, and then return to normal breathing as you take inventory.
Breath work is crucial to our existence for obvious reasons. But it is also life changing if you have a yoga practice, meditation practice, or reiki practice. It is also extremely beneficial in assisting us, in our daily lives, to be more mindful of our bodies, our minds, our thoughts, and our existence. Breath work provides us with a basis for conflict resolution (calming our mind, giving a moment to think), stress release (providing oxygen to our muscles and brains, and providing moments of calm and focus), management of pain (focus allows us to recognize where the pain actually exists), and management of addictions (knowing our true selves provides us with knowledge and power to overcome outside influence).
The Nature of Duality by Tara Moreno
According to the Google dictionary, duality is an instance of opposition or contrast between two concepts or two aspects of something; a dualism. Our entire reality is built on duality. If we look at our external reality it’s easy to see. We have night and day, boy and girl, black and white, and shadow and light. The list goes on. At this time as spiritual beings we are called to bring back balance to the whole of our life and existence itself.
A lot of what we have experienced in this imbalance comes from religious dogma specifically within modern Christianity. After I had my biggest awakening, I did so with by the hands of someone who was a self-proclaimed follower of Christ. When she began the healing process and helped pull back the veil, she called in Jesus and the angels to assist her. It was after that day I began to hear and see the spiritual world. I, too, began to follow the path of Christ.
After about a week after my big awakening the oneness and the peace began to subside and all I noticed was the darkness. It was in me and all around me. In paralyzing fear, I prayed and begged for the answers. The darkness was so intense and strong. Why was this happening to me? It was then I was led to read the first chapter of Genesis. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth and the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” It was in that moment it clicked for me and I said outloud,” You are in the dark, too… You made it ALL.” Incredibly relieved, I started to ask questions. Why is there so much of it? What are you trying to teach me about it? What do I need to know?
In my seeking, I was then led to begin seeking texts outside of the bible. I went to the library and checked out books translating the Coptic texts and the Nag Hammadi texts. In my search I began to uncover the truth about duality and the oneness of all life. I began to understand that the darkness was merely a tool for me. It was a contrast to the light and without the depth of the dark I would not know the brilliance light. I also began to understand that the power that Jesus claimed was available to me, that the kingdom of heaven was within me, too.
This when my work with shadow medicine and the dark nights of the soul began. I began to understand that I created a split within me and that I had banished anything I labeled bad or dark to my underworld. In order for me to feel whole again I needed to integrate my shadow. I began the arduous process of the transmutation in the summer of 2013 beginning with inner child work. In this process I was able to recall the parts of soul that had broken off from the trauma. Slowly, I felt better and better.
As an awakened being I am now able to see the perfection of life. Even when I am in the throes of pain, I am aware that this is part of my integration, that I am being called to feel myself back into alignment by releasing whatever traumas I have incurred over this lifetime and all the others. I have a knowing that it is perfect. It is ALL perfect. In this practice of consciously feeling my pain without trying to “love and light” it away, I am able to have the clarity. Once the transmutation process is complete, I come out shining brighter and vibrating significantly higher than before. So, in a sense, the awakening not about becoming anything, it’s more of an un-becoming.
When we can integrate our shadow and strike a balance in the whole, we can walk this life with the knowing that everything is love or it is love that is unrealized. No matter the form it comes in there is one common underlying theme and that is love. If someone hurts someone it is a call for love, subsequently war is a call for a collective love.
As we begin to continue this path of awakening, we are being called to integrate back into wholeness. As the famous Dr. Carl Jung said, we will not get there by going towards the light, we will get there by making the dark conscious.
Yoga Blog by Natalie Gagnon
I am writing a yoga blog to share how I feel peace and calm through yoga poses. They help me to feel centered and grounded. Yoga also helps me to process difficult emotions. If I am very sad, or when I went through a difficult time or situation it has helped me. If you feel cravings or irritability, or even just need to get up off of the couch and move for a few minutes it helps! I Have a few poses I go through and hold and breathe. I learned them from an online class I bought. The instructor also said affirmations with the poses to help you remember them. Some of the affirmations are very uplifting. You do not need a yoga mat, yoga clothes or props. This is how I started to get a feel for yoga benefits in my life. An example of the poses I use are Tree Pose, hold the pose and breathe. You can say the mantra “ I am calm, I am poised.” Half moon pose each side “strength and courage fill my body cells”. Camel Pose “with calm faith, I open to thy light”. Warrior II “ I joyfully manifest the power of God”. When I first started doing this my knee was injured and I could not hold a lunge. I used a chair and did the pose. This still stretched the hips which releases the pent up emotions stored in your body. Supine twist “I open to the flow of god’s life within me”. A good stretch is head to knee pose, which is a wide legged forward bend. Doing cat and cow poses really helps to keep the spine supple so the energy can flow freely. Downward Dog is also good to bring vitality by increasing blood flow to your upper body. I feel really empowered by doing Fish Pose at the end and I love the mantra to say with it “My soul floats on waves of cosmic light”. You can google or You tube how to do these poses and do the ones that resonate with you. You can modify any pose and you can do them from a chair as well. Never over stretch too far or hurt yourself for a yoga pose. I like to close my eyes while I do them and breathe deeply. Notice wear it hurts in the body. Bring your awareness to this spot. Holding a pose helps to ease suffering, craving or worry.
Warming up your body first and getting the blood flowing is also a good idea. You can also try Sun Salutation A for a warm up. You do not have to be flexible or to do them perfectly. This is just how I got started a few minutes a day. It helped me heal and stay sober. It has helped me to connect with my own feelings and my own body. Just this few minutes a day made me even more interested in yoga and I take classes in a studio now. Yoga is one of the tools in my box on this life journey. Light a candle and use some essential oils. Breathe deeply and do your favorite poses for just a few minutes. Yoga has taught me to love myself and to forgive myself. Be kind to yourself and be gentle. This routine also prepares my mind to meditate afterwards. Light a candle, close your eyes and breathe. This is your time.
I came across the english translation to the closing prayer said at the end of an Ashtanga Yoga class. “ OM, May all be well with mankind. May the leaders of the earth protect in every way by keeping to the right path. May there be goodness for those who know the earth to be sacred. May all the worlds be happy. OM Peace Peace Peace.
CHAKRADANCE by Janice Walker
What is CHAKRADANCE? CHAKRADANCE is a dance practice for body and soul. It’s a powerful experience that will free and energize you. It combines spontaneous dance, guided imagery and music to promote that wonderful state of calm vitality known as “well- being”. The music is the key, as it resonates deeply with each in turn of the seven major chakras – the energy centers that integrate and regulate our physical, mental and emotional energies. Many who have experienced it claim it has transformed their lives for the better; others, simply that they enjoyed it hugely. What makes it more than your normal belly-dancing or salsa class? It’s not about steps or performance; you dance with your eyes closed in a darkened room. It’s more like a dynamic, moving meditation. It’s completely about freedom of expression; there is no right way to CHAKRADANCE as everyone has his or her own rhythm and movement. With its roots in Jungian psychology, CHAKRADANCE encourages people to dance for self-discovery and self-healing. What do you feel is the main attraction? The best thing about CHAKRADANCE is you don’t have to follow a set routine to feel the benefits; you just let the music move you. People from all ages (16 – 90) can participate. Some people are attracted by the fact that it’s a fun and energetic workout to great music. Other people say it leads to a spiritual awakening. Most people love it because it provides a haven away from their stressed everyday lives, and a rare opportunity to find true freedom of expression.
What are the benefits (both physical and mental) of CHAKRADANCE? The most obvious physical benefit is that it boosts your fitness. It’s a cardio workout that gets everything moving from your face to your feet. It really gets your heart pumping; releasing endorphins to make you feel great. For those who are looking for a more spiritual connection, each workshop is designed to work a different chakra. There are seven main chakras; these centers of energy may be under or over active. Balancing them leads to many benefits, including better relationships, improved confidence and self esteem, emotional health, enhanced creativity, and heightened inspiration and clarity. But the biggest benefit of all is the absolute freedom to be yourself! So it can be seen as a tool to improve overall health and wellbeing? Yes, absolutely. CHAKRADANCE is unique because it’s a cross between dynamic meditation and dance. It requires you to participate physically, emotionally, intellectually AND spiritually. It is extremely therapeutic, although not in an analytical way. The key to its healing power is the experience itself. Not only is it a new physical activity, CHAKRADANCE truly integrates body and soul.
How would you describe the CHAKRADANCE experience? CHAKRADANCE is almost like entering into a waking dream. Specifically selected and composed music, and tailored visualizations help you tap into your inner world. You close your eyes and surrender to the music. From here the process involves letting the movements emerge spontaneously. As the music’s vibrations affect you, you may see images in your mind’s-eye, recall memories or gain insights related to each chakra. You may also feel emotions or physical sensations. Can the music really help balance a person’s chakras? Each of the seven chakras vibrates at its own frequency. Music is able to balance the chakras by using the sound vibrations to tune each energy center. The music is modern dance music with specific musical tones that resonate with the chakras. Interwoven with the music are the pure tones of crystal bowls sourced from across the globe, that release a vibrational sound field that is an essential ingredient of each dance. CHAKRADANCE music has a lasting effect. The vibrations continue to pulse outward into our energy field long after the sounds have stopped playing.
Janice Walker, CMRM
Certified Medical Reiki ™ Master
Certified Holy Fire II Karuna Reiki ™ Master
Licensed Chakradance ™ Facilitator
Auricular Seeding By Terry Moore Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist
Our body’s immune system works 24/7 trying to keep us healthy when exposed to bacteria, viruses and other natural invaders. Our eating habits, lack of exercise, lack of sleep and substance use disorder can also have a toll on our body. Every day stressors are one of the biggest offenders. One of the most important things to learn is how to handle stress. It is not a ‘one fit all’ kind of process; you have to be open to learn and try new holistic modalities that can help get you back into balance. Auricular Seeding is one of these modalities.
What is Auricular Seeding?
Many are unfamiliar with this practice, which utilizes acupressure rather than acupuncture. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), different areas of our ears correspond to different organs and systems within the body. Stimulating these parts can treat ailments in those various organs and systems.
Auricular therapy has a long history of use in China. It was mentioned in the most famous of ancient Chinese medical textbooks, “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.” In modern times, auricular therapy has been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s own feel-good chemicals.
Small metal beads, or Vaccaria seeds, are applied to corresponding meridian points, and held in place by adhesive tape. This allows the wearer to receive continuous benefits for days at a time, and they can press on the bead to reactivate it during this time.
How does Auricular Seeding work?
- Helps calm the nervous system and helps with overall relaxation
- Helps alleviate anxiety, depression, and insomnia
- Helps influence mental state & happiness, helps relieve fear
- Helps with detoxification and extinguish anger and aggression
- Helps with the grieving process and letting go
- Helps with post traumatic stress syndrome
- Helps with cessation of smoking
- Helps with weight loss
When the wearer feels anxious, depressed, unable to concentrate and just plain stuck in the flight or fight response. By activating the seeds by gentle massaging the seed placed on the maridian points. This activation releases chemicals that will help calm down the body. Being in a more calming state can help wearer to handle the strong emotions and related symptoms so they can make better decisions.
A friend of mine has sever insomnia and was only sleeping 3 ½ to 4 hours a night. She was in automatic pilot mode most of the time. The doctor put her on medication to help her sleep however she hated it because she always felt droogy the next day. I offered to place a few Auricular seeds on specific points on the ear, to see if it would helped. Well, she is off the medication now. She uses the Auricular seeds when she feels over stimulated and knows getting to sleep and staying asleep will be a problem. She has also learned meditation as another tool for relaxation.
By being open to try holistic modalities and by being willing to make changes may have a huge impact on your quality of life. We are supposed to enjoy living not living to find ways to numb ourselves.