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I’m very honored to welcome one of the most peaceful and spiritual people I know to Out of Bounds today. As my regular guests know, Out of Bounds embraces the concept of getting the most out of life by giving it your best – no, no, your very best! That type of mindset is the reason I sign every post with the admonition to “Make each moment count double.”
Reading authors such as Janice Lynne Lundy is one of the very best ways to subscribe to that philosophy. After reading her fascinating article below, please read another of her articles on Self Help Daily.
Without exaggeration, my breath has saved my life. It has been my anchor through bouts of anxiety, a source of comfort during times of loss, and a conduit to greater understanding of the Divine. Connecting with my breath is the best way I know how to care for myself—body, mind, and spirit. Just breathe.
Breathe. It’s a natural, immediate way to soothe our body, relax our mind, and restore our spirit. Most of us are not aware just how important breathing is to our total well-being. In fact, most of us don’t consciously think about breathing at all. We are so busy rushing here and there that we don’t take a decent breath! We breathe raggedly, gulp down breaths, or hold it altogether as we respond to what is happening around us.
Breathing in this way causes tension to build, accumulating right in the center of our chest—a clear cause of anxiety. Or, it wraps itself around our head, neck, and shoulders, causing discomfort and pain. Breathing in, deeply and evenly, and exhaling just as deeply and evenly, releases physical tension. It releases emotional tension, as well. When we become more intentional about our breath, our whole self will benefit in these important ways:
While breathing, our body receives very specific health benefits. Blood is oxygenated, which means healthy, new blood can flow to our brain. This helps us think more clearly. Blood flows to our organs for cell reproduction; to our muscles and ligaments, for strengthening and increased flexibility; to our heart, so pulse and metabolic rates can slow down. By harnessing the power of our breath, our body can release its own innate, healing energy. Breathing is good for what ails us!
Focusing on our breath allows the mind to stabilize from racing thoughts. It facilitates focus when we’re feeling scattered; boosts creativity when we are blocked. Negative thoughts and feelings cause wear and tear on our emotional state. This can manifest in bodily tension, which, in time, may cause significant health issues and dis-ease.
Conscious breathing allows us to access inner quiet, a center of stillness, our source of inner peace. It provides the perfect opportunity for us to get in touch with the present moment, a potent place where we remember the importance of loving relationships, meaningful work, and the beauty of nature. It also plugs us in to the Sacred. Breathing can become an act of prayer.
Here’s a simple breathing exercise to get you started on a new path to well-being:
Begin by breathing in through your nose, filling your lungs with air from the bottom up. Continue breathing until your abdomen puffs out and feels full. Do this to a slow count of 5. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then, slowly exhale through your mouth, gradually emptying the lungs, then the abdomen to another count of 5. You may want to push out one final puff of air at the end of each round to completely clear the lungs. Repeat this as long as you need to feel a relaxation response. With practice, you may want to extend your inhales and exhales to 8 and 10 counts respectively.
Deep breathing can be practiced anytime, anywhere—while driving or walking, in the shower or tub, at our desk, while watching television, upon rising in the morning, and at night before sleep.
It has been reported that we take 10,000 breaths a day. Why not make these breaths ones that relax, balance, or energize us? Nurturing ourselves with the miraculous gift of our breath is a powerful practice, one that predictably returns us home to our truest self—the peaceful, confident, and joyous person we were meant to be. Just breathe!
Janice Lynne Lundy’s Bio:
Janice Lynne Lundy is an inspirational speaker, interfaith spiritual director, syndicated magazine columnist, and the author of four self-help/spiritual growth books for women. Her newest book, Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be, has just been released by Sorin Books.
Described by her readers, audiences, and colleagues as “practical and poetic, possessing deep and gentle wisdom,” Janice Lynne Lundy serves as an interfaith spiritual guide to tens of thousands of women throughout the United States through her nationally syndicated magazine column in Women’s LifeStyle, as a professional speaker and retreat facilitator, and as a Spiritual Director. She has been recognized for her sensitive and compelling interviews as well as for her gift for connecting with soul-searching women. Jan is an adjunct staff member for the Institute of Spirituality at the Dominican Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her newest book, Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be, was released in October 2008 by Sorin Books.
Jan is the author of three previously published personal and spiritual growth books: Coming Home to Ourselves: A Woman’s Journey to Wholeness; Awakening the Spirit Within; and Perfect Love: How to Find Yours and Make It Last Forever (co-authored with her husband, Brad Lundy).
The mother of three, stepmother of four, and grandmother of three more, Jan resides on the peaceful shoreline of Grand Traverse Bay in northern Michigan with her husband, Brad, her creative partner and soul’s companion.
Learn more about Jan at her website: www.awakenedliving.com. Register for her newsletter and she’ll send you her new, inspirational 90-page e-book, The Awakened Woman’s Guide to Life.
Visit her blog: www.awakeisgood.blogspot.com. She enjoys hearing from her readers and responds personally. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I read this article, I couldn’t help thinking about an experience I had about a month ago. I read somewhere that we should take periodic “Checks” of our breathing – to see if we tend to breathe deeply, if our breathing is rapid, etc. I kept catching myself holding my breath! What’s up with that?! So, I’ve become more mindful of taking deep, meaningful breathes. Great article, Janice! You’ve reminded me again of the importance to breathe deeply. As God as my witness I’ll never hold my breath again. (Not out of water, anyway!)
Buy Janice Lynne Lundy’s newest book on Amazon: Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be
Make each breath count double!