We all experience relaxation in many ways… whether it’s gardening, hiking, reading, sitting, or enjoying our morning cup of tea/coffee. I believe the key to true relaxation (body/mind/spirit) is first—being aware of our breath. How many times a day to you take deep, full conscious breaths? Or, is breathing something you take for granted? I came across this simple definition of taking for granted, and I thought I would share it with you.
“…to expect someone or something to be always available to serve in some way without thanks or recognition; to value someone or something too lightly.”
How can we remember to give thanks for our breath, [life force—chi] and give it some recognition? The first step is being consciously aware of it, by feeling it, by slowing down, and giving attention to our current surroundings. [Even though this is simple, you may not do it because it isn’t complicated—now how ironic is that?]
The second step in experiencing relaxation is releasing in our body. When we are consciously aware of our breath, we can begin to notice how our body naturally releases. Do this now, wherever you are, take three long deep breaths. Now check? How does your body feel? Can you release the body even more? If you’re sitting, how can you sit with more ease? Maybe your shoulders can release more, soften your chest a little more, feel your sit bones connect to your seat. Our bodies can be like and onion—there is another layer within us that we can release. Now notice [feel] your body, wherever you still feel tension—in your mind’s eye—ask it to release.
When we can put the two steps together: conscious breathing + releasing in our body, then we can begin to experience relaxation. My teacher (Sifu Gardner) said a few weeks ago in class, “Through our breath and awareness, calmness and clarity become the result. When we recognize this—spontaneous goodness comes from within us.” I love that thought of spontaneous goodness. [I visualize colorful sparkles all around.] Wouldn’t you like to give yourself spontaneous goodness throughout the day?
Do you think you would feel better if you did? What if you did it three times a day? Now, I know what some of you may be thinking, “I already do conscious breathing and releasing in my [Yoga / T’ai Chi / Qigong / fill-in-the-blank] practice. To those of you that do, that’s great, Now, let’s take it one step further, and consciously breathe and release outside of class. We are not in class 24/7, but we do breathe 24/7, so give yourself the gift of having calmness and clarity throughout your day from your daily conscious breathing.
Practice this way and see how it feels, let me know your experiences in the comment section below. Together we can spread come colorful spontaneous goodness all around!