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.