3 Simple Breathing Techniques for ‘Weathering the Storm’

A few days ago I wrote 5 Steps to BEing Calm. In it I emphasized the importance of practicing meditation as a method for stress reduction. Meditation is simply being still for a period of time while focusing on one’s breath. What is the point of that? Isn’t breathing kind of . . . normal?

What if I forget to breathe?

I remember a time my elderly father asked me, “Deb, what happens if a person forgets to breathe?” We both laughed at the silliness of the question and I teased him saying he needn’t worry because he would pass out and begin to breath again, if he forgot. As I think back on those days when Dad lived with me, he worried a lot. He worried about dying, about having his daughter care for him, about being a burden. Apparently, he even worried about breathing.

Breathing: It’s good for our health

Worry is something I’m familiar with. I often say I come from a long line of worriers. The thing about habitual worriers is we aren’t consciously aware of our breathing. We are breathing, of course, but we are not doing the best job of it. I am certain my dad would catch himself either holding his breath or taking shallow quick breaths, perhaps to the point of an anxiety attack, like so many others, including me. Which is probably why he came to me to ask the question about breathing.

So what’s the big deal about breathing? Aren’t we all doing it all the time? We are. However, it’s amazing what we can learn about ourselves if we start paying attention to things like our breath.


3 breathing techniques to ‘weather the storm’:

  1. Awareness: Pay attention to your breath throughout the day. Is your breathing generally shallow? Fast or slow? Of course this will depend on activity level. Becoming aware of how we breath in various circumstances is the very first step. Think about your breathing throughout the day.
  2. Deep Breathing Exercise: Sit down in a comfortable position (commit to 5 minutes). Take a deep breath in through the nose and release it through your mouth with a sigh. Inhale slowly, feeling the breath go in through the nostrils and follow it into your chest, belly, or deeper. Now slowly exhale through the nose, completely and fully, emptying your lungs. Repeat, slowly inhaling deeper, if possible, pause, then exhale slowly and deeply. Pause briefly before inhaling again. Now breath normally, however it feels natural to you. How do you feel? Tense? Nervous? Calm? Silly? There’s no right answer, this is about how you being aware of how you feel.
  3. Counting Breath Exercise: Find a comfortable place to sit quietly (commit to 5 minutes). Close your eyes if you wish. Take a deep breath in through the nose and release it with an open mouth audible sigh. Now do it again. Close your eyes and breathe normally – inhale, exhale, however it feels natural to you for a few breaths. gradually inhale through the nose deeper, feel the breath entering the nostrils, flowing into the throat and deeper, into your belly if that feels comfortable. Exhale slowly and purposely through the nose. Next inhale while counting 1, 2, 3, pause. Exhale for a count of 3. Continue this for five or six additional breaths. Then allow yourself to breath normally and evaluate how you feel.

These techniques are simple and easy. While breathing is something we all do all the time, without thinking, I believe if we put some thought and focus into practicing and paying attention, it can help us to weather any storm life deals us.

May we all breathe easier – with practice.

Harmony at Our Fingertips

If you’re like me you may be asking (or screaming to no one in particular), “What is happening?” The division, the spewing of hateful words back and forth, the widening tribal gap, the alternative reality that our president lives in, the openly outright lies and gas-lighting – it’s too much to take some days. But the ugliness that happened because of a man named Kavanaugh, that has sent many women (in particular) spiraling into a deep sadness and grief, or for many more, spurred an enraged feeling of knowing enough is enough. 

Thankfully harmony is at our fingertips. For some of us it is found in prayer, in meditation or on the yoga mat. Harmony opens up to us when we seek it. I needed this reminder this week. Continue reading

The Dandelion Knows

Dandelion

Do you have trouble letting go of things? Are you having trouble letting go of the insane political climate? Letting go of choices you made long ago? Do you remember something you wish you’d done differently or at least wonder, what if?

Dandelions totally get it. A perfectly adorable yellow flower turns into a seed pod that has no intention of holding on to those hundreds of seeds. It knows how to let go.

Continue reading

Unmade Bed

unmade bed

Sometimes I don’t make the bed. I don’t see the point in making it pretty every darned day for literally no one to see. Many days I don’t even see it myself until I pull the covers down to climb back into it.

Man I miss this bedroom. It’s my old bedroom from my last house and it was spacious, soothing, quiet, with just the right amount of natural light coming in. I am reminded by this picture of many years where my hubby traveled and I slept alone in this big bed. Making it was simple – pull up the covers on my side and walk away. Continue reading

Beauty All Around

purple tulip

Beauty is everywhere if we will only notice it. Some days it’s harder than others to see it.

Yesterday the theme of my blog post was the word indivisible and I thought about the Pledge of Allegiance and the meaning behind it. I said I didn’t have a solution for this problem our country is facing – the divide, the dissent, the anger between individuals and lawmakers. Actually I do.  Continue reading

It’s a Balancing Act

Republican lawmakers targeted by a lone gunman a little after 7 a.m. while practicing for a charity baseball game is not what you expect to see happening before your first sip of coffee on a Wednesday morning.

The gunman died in an angry attempt to express his political feelings. What drives someone to do that? A loss of balanced and rational thinking? I do wonder what his tipping point was but of course, we’ll probably never know. What we do know is the angry divide must be addressed somehow.

Respectfully, as it should be, news from the nation’s capital is not about collusion or obstruction of justice today. This morning’s events are likely a wake-up call to politicians on both sides. I can imagine the horribly frightening moments for those at the ball field this morning.

My guess is many who weren’t there are also imagining what if . . . it could have been me. With a sense of relief many of these folks are probably sharing a lot of loving thoughts with their families this afternoon, perhaps with newfound perspective for what really matters most and a desire to find a sense of balance. Continue reading

How My Business Sold Itself

Last month I sold my seven-year old business, Big Fat Soap. Since I made the announcement dozens of fellow business owners have asked me how I did it, as though there were specific steps involved in the process. While I cannot outline exactly how the potential buyer(s) were found I would like to demonstrate what the experience was like from my perspective. Later Part Two of this series will explain the amount of work involved in getting it sold, because there was a LOT of work involved even after I watched the truck drive away with the contents of my business. Read on to hear how it happened. Continue reading

Farm Dreams — Part 1

Me and My First Love, Amigo - 1967

Where does a dream begin? How does it develop into something one must pursue? Is it ever too late to take action on pursuing this dream? 

I’ve had a dream my whole life — literally as far back as I can remember. This is Part 1 of my farm dream story:  

As a kid growing up in the Los Angeles suburbs I longed to live on a farm with horses. Corrals, pastures, wide open spaces to ride off alone, just me and my equine best friend, was what I dreamed of nearly every day of my life. I don’t know why or even where this idea came from because I hadn’t been exposed to horses or farms, except on TV. I knew kids who would visit their relatives on farms – always in the Midwest, it seemed. Eventually I married one of those kids. Continue reading

Grieving the Loss of Myself

Last month my identity was stolen. It might not have been such an excruciatingly horrid experience if it were not for the fact that we are smack dab in the middle of buying our dream property—you know, with the necessary credit checks, title searches, folks googling our names to be sure we are who we say we are. It is only by chance that we discovered my stolen identity, as it is in most cases. There is no Stolen Identity Bureau of the government who notifies us when our social security number has been used illicitly.

The nightmare began when we attempted to file our tax returns electronically, like we have for years. To our surprise the system rejected our returns because someone had previously filed using my social security number. We are lucky because the fake return was rejected, which means the thief did not receive our refund. We are unlucky because our refund will now be held up for 180 days while the IRS proceeds to confirm I am who I say I am. And unlucky because we were forced to file via snail mail (certified & registered) – complete with an affidavit, a form explaining what happened, the police report case number, and copies of my social security card and passport. Continue reading