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The art of breathing

Buddha_croppedLately I have been practicing exhaling, in several different ways.

Yesterday I learned how to put my face in water and blow bubbles out my nose. As a child it was a challenge to calm my breath while playing in water. Yet I loved water and my mom couldn’t get me out of it once I was in it. But I never learned the art of how to breathe while swimming. Having grown up in New York City, most of us kids learned to swim at CYO camp or just jumping in and out of the surf after a long train ride to the beach.

Now many years later I finally learned what so many who have been swimming since childhood already know. You can’t swallow water if you are blowing bubbles out your nose.  And I learned this from my granddaughter, an avid swimmer, who was teaching my grandson how to swim.

So with goggles on and my focus on the exhale, I got my first live glimpse of how the light travels underwater. And this new experience was both soothing and exhilarating. It has cleared some cobwebs from my mind.

As we sit between seasons, the LA version of spring trying to be summer, and so much in our society trying to decide whether and how to move forward, it is easy to get caught up in the stress of changes.  It’s moving too fast, it’s not moving fast enough, two steps forward one step back, the pace of change for many of us has been a little unnerving.

Yet my small lesson in focusing on the exhale has opened my mind to creating safe havens in this turbulent river. The art of breath is not so much about what you take in, as it is about what you let go of.

Focusing on the exhale, the inhale happens by itself, more naturally, and with new insights.  The rhythm of that movement of the diaphragm has a soothing influence on the brain, which then sends calming chemical messages throughout the body.

So when things get tough, and your mind is on overwhelm, be aware of your breath. How often do you stop breathing? Is your breathing fairly shallow? Are you struggling to take it all in?  If you place your awareness on exhaling, you get to take in what you need, without the struggle.

Living with the Seasons

(c) Elen Lauper 2013

Welcome to my site and blog. The  purpose of this site is to give people a few ways to find relief, find balance, and cultivate health. It is a reflection of my practice, using sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch to develop habits that support wellness.  Finding that balance is my ultimate goal – for myself and for others.

First, a little orientation

The Coping with Change pages give brief descriptions of the demands and challenges of each season as well as recommendations for relief. This blog page will be used for timely observations as well as additional suggestions, and periodically video links to interesting topics.

In addition, the sidebar has a link to my YouTube channel which has videos I have made and others I watch regularly; a link to the Five Flavors Alchemy website of an herbalist who cooks, balances the flavors energetically, and shares recipes; and a link to an astrologer who uses the language of the stars to explain the cyclic patterns we find ourselves in.

And now for the in-between season we find ourselves in

It’s the end of  May. We seem to be between seasons.  The temperature has fluctuated often and quickly. Yet we haven’t had a lot of rain over the spring.  And we have already had big fires. Seasons in Southern California are different than the rest of the country.  Our biggest challenges at this time of year are dryness, pollen from the non-native blooms, smoke and fire retardants in the smoke, and air pollution that sits in the valley too long. We are grateful for some rain to wash it all away, yet complain about the traffic when it comes.

So what to do?

While the weather is changeable soups are great. During all of the changes, hydration is key. Keeping up with all the changes requires some flexibility so stretching can help.

If you have been hydrating and stretching over the spring, then this in-between stage will be easier. Hydrating means drinking more water than you are used to, but also hydrating the nose with saline and a Neti Pot, or some other nasal rinse technique.

Look at  the No Time/Space for Self tab under the Coping with Change menu page.  There you will find more symptoms and relief suggestions for the season between seasons.

For now… Imagine Peace