On The Matter of the Breath

Life begins on an inhale and ends with a final exhale. Most of us will take innumerable breaths in between, and while it could be said that breathing is arguably the most important thing we will ever do, it is something we think very little about.

Breathing is a function of the autonomic nervous system, but unlike the majority of the body’s involuntary functions, we can exercise some control over it – if we give our attention to it. Unless you meditate, practice yoga, or have a serious chronic lung condition, you probably never think about breathing, but you may want to start. According to Dr. Artour Rakhimov,

Over 90% of modern people suffer from breathing problems … [including] chest breathing, mouth breathing, and hyperventilation, all of which reduce oxygen levels in body cells and promote chronic diseases.

http://www.normalbreathing.com (emphasis mine)

Over 90%.

Consider that number for a moment. I am willing to bet that you and I are in there. My own journey with the breath began many years ago while reading an article on running. Most runners breathe in rhythm with their feet. For example, the inhale and exhale happen when either the left or right foot strikes the ground. Apparently some scientists discovered that breathing in and out with the same foot strike can lead to heart problems. Even today when I run, I count steps between breaths – in for 3 (through the nose), out for 4 (through the mouth). In this way, I ensure that each time I inhale, I alternate feet.

I began meditating and practicing yoga in 2015. Yoga encourages a slight resistance in the throat to help regulate the breath. Yogic breathing makes a comforting sound in my head like ocean waves crashing on the beach. I have worked with that some, and Kundalini as well. Wim Hof‘s method of breathing has been scientifically tested many times. I especially encourage you to look into his work if you strive for peak athletic performance.

Fast forward to the summer of 2019. I will not rehash the experience since you can read about it here, but Dr. Tom’s initial perception of my inability to take a deep breath stuck with me. That and the respiratory distress that had sent me to Georgia in the first place got me thinking about breathing again.

In November I scrolled right into a Facebook post about a breath technique called SOMA. A few short weeks into the practice I noticed an increase in my stamina, heightened focus during meditation, and a deeper sense of relaxation overall. Then, in January, 2020 I blundered into Michelle D’Avella’s method of breathwork. Her brother Matt’s YouTube video convinced me that there was something there for me to explore. Turns out, he was right.

Modern metaphysics has a name for belief systems that cause us to behave in ways we would rather not: subconscious preprogramming. Some of these programs we inherit from our ancestors (through our DNA), but most we acquire from our families and peers.

Children spend their first 6-7 years in a Theta dream state, incapable of analytical thought, yet everything seen, heard, and felt is imprinted onto the subconscious mind and these imprints – or rather our unconscious interpretations of them – form the belief systems by which we interpret the world and our place in it. To complicate matters, children lack the capacity to understand or manage their own negative experiences (aka traumas). Societal norms and family expectations often teach us to reject or stuff the more volatile emotions of anger, fear, jealousy, even grief. Through conditioning, we learn to automatically pull away from these feelings in ourselves and others, contracting not only mind and spirit, but the body as well. These repressed emotions become what Carl Jung termed the shadow, and our shadows become triggers.

trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.

https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-a-trigger/

To hide from our shadows, we develop stories around our past that form the basis of our unconscious belief systems. Each story carries with it a negative emotional charge. These negative emotions then form ‘blocks’ in our psyche which hinder our ability to move through life with ease. Left to fester long enough, blocks manifest as overwhelm in the mind (anxiety, depression, addictive behaviors) and/or pain/disease in the body.

On some level, we all fear looking at our shadows. After all, they are built of painful memories that often evoke feelings of shame. But 95% of human behavior is borne out of subconscious preprogramming. That means that whatever traumas and emotions you are unwilling to face are probably controlling your life.

I never would have believed that breathing could heal if it had not happened to me

There is something about consciously breathing deep into the belly that opens the door for emotions to arise and be cleared. Breathing with intention can rescue us from the pain and shame of the past if we learn to give our bodies permission to feel through all of those rejected emotions. By allowing our blocks to come into conscious awareness, we can release them with love and acceptance.

Daily, moment to moment, the body is breathing itself. We need not do anything, but with conscious use, we are capable of many things. In an alchemical way, we can turn our dark matter into breath, to flow with breath, to release with breath.

On the conscious exhale, the willingness to sit with the rising up, we become capable of the letting go of weights. We held them so strongly that we had no idea just how heavy we were, until we’re floating.

https://upliftconnect.com/breathwork-for-clearing-trauma/

I began pouring paint in December of 2018. After a few months, I noticed new levels of creativity and experienced a peace and joy that I had not known before. My love for fluid acrylics crystalized into a desire to pass this freedom of expression on to others, so I offered paint classes that included meditation focused on connecting with the creativity found inside each of us.

The effects of COVID-19 have provided me with a lot more time and energy to explore my inner world than I would normally allow myself. During the second week of a 21-Day SOMA Journey, I realized that breathwork was the direction I want to go in terms of meditation – both personally and in the art classes I will one day teach again.

Ironically, I have not been able to put paint to canvas since my self-imposed quarantine began on March 15 (50+ days ago). But I sure have been breathing! And healing … and dreaming. I plan to develop my own style of breathwork, something that I hope will inspire deeper depths of creativity in myself and others. In the meantime, I would love to hear about any and all aspects of your journey in the comments below!

If you are interested in learning more about breathwork, please visit the links I provided in this post. For information about classes that combine meditation with fluid art, connect with me at ripplesofinsight@gmail.com.

Namaste, and thank you so much for reading.

~Cindy

Paint pouring with Cindy, with a focus on exploration and creativity in the moment, what could be better? Cindy gives lots of options for self discovery and helps you to design a lasting memory, as well as sparking a desire for experiences yet to come.

Gee Lawrence, Pickleball aficionado extraordinaire

Tonight Cindy Welch taught me a way to use meditation with pouring art. And it was amazing! I went back to attempting to paint from the things I learned from my meditation … and I felt like I accomplished my goal!! Working with Cindy was such an insightful and spiritual experience. I know that it helped me unblock what was interfering with what I was trying to create!

Rebecca Webeck

Just Breathe

I know, I know, November was supposed to be a month of blogging. My life and writing? Not particularly in sync right now. The full schedule will certainly let up right around the first of December – just after NanoPoblano ends. 😒 Mind you, I am not complaining. I may not be writing, but I absolutely love what I am doing.

In lieu of a post tonight, I would like to share an exciting process with you. I may not be writing, but I am most definitely breathing. Enjoy!

SOMA Breath – highly recommend the daily doses. But watch out! They might just change your life – for the better!

Namaste,

~C

Inner Musings – Part 1

The child standing before me was barely recognizable. Her eyes, nose, and mouth sat jumbled and distorted on the right side of her face – off-kilter, a mirror reflection of the state of my heart. Her head tipped back, revealing eyes filled with longing. How could I refuse the silent plea? As I lifted her into my arms, her features slid back into place. She turned her head on my shoulder and smiled. I knew then that I would take her with me this time. I could no longer leave her in my memories of the past. Perhaps she had outgrown them. Perhaps we both had.

My father made it for me. It hung humbly from the limb of a pine tree in my back yard.
Next to my little teddy bear classroom, that swing was my favorite toy.

I first encountered my inner child in the backyard of my home of origin. The swing made sense – it had brought me endless hours of delight. There I could forget everything but watching the sky rush down to meet my outstretched feet.

Her joy was a palpable presence as I stood watching her.

I remembered it like it was yesterday. The ground, the sky, the ground, the sky, the ground – then, when I had amassed enough courage, a final leap into thin air! The tumble down the hill, the laughter – just like it was yesterday. My allergy to the green carpet that covered the backyard like an itchy wool blanket had never stopped me jumping. In the interim, other things had gotten in the way of my courage, though.

That day, she did not jump. She just swung, and watched me watching her. I did not remember ever wearing the knowing smile she gave me. When I had amassed enough courage to stand before her, I held out my hand and said, “Come with me.” 

“No,” she replied, “you come with me.” Without a word, or even a moment’s hesitation, I turned my back to the swing, waited to feel its touch against my legs, then sat. A strange sensation came over me, as if my body were falling into hers – or had she fallen into me? Now I was swinging. The ground, the sky, the ground, the sky … 

But would I ever again amass enough courage to jump? As it turned out, I would.

Past is Passed …

… but the Future is Now

Three years ago I read Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. The following is my attempt to ‘flesh out’ where I stand currently on what it means to live in the present moment.

~   ~   ~

Anyone who knows me very well is aware of the serious condition from which I suffer. I affectionately call it  made up a name for it: Youtubeitis. It’s more of an addiction than an illness. That’s right, my name is Cindy, and I am a YouTube addict. Whether driving to and from the pickleball court, preparing a meal, or sitting on the couch in my room, you will most often find me listening to back to back talks given by my favorite teachers, all offering their wisdom for free on the Interwebs. My AT&T data plan cannot begin to keep up. The good news is, I think it is finally starting to pay off.

When I turned the last page of The Power of Now, I was fairly convinced that whatever Tolle was talking about, it was both impractical and unreachable – at least for me. Nothing about sitting on a park bench for two years, while becoming enamored with the life force of the leaves on the trees has ever remotely appealed to me. I watched the online class that he and Oprah Winfrey put out to help us ‘get it’, but I still didn’t, and I knew it.

Right around the time that I encountered The Power of Now, a cousin of mine introduced me to Dr. Joe Dispenza. Quickly I found that the science of spirituality made much more sense to me than the esoteric, ethereal notions presented in Tolle’s book. I have since read two books by Dr. Joe, listened to almost everything he has out on YouTube multiple times (this is a great place to start), purchased (and use) several of his meditation CD’s, and in December of 2017, I attended a Progressive conference in Austin, TX. Here is a meditation you can try for free. Let me know what you think in the comments.

About 6 months ago, I stumbled upon Abraham Hicks, and suddenly everything I had learned from Dr. Joe was amplified ten-fold! I moved from directing thought and emotion during meditation to becoming aware of my moment-by-moment feelings throughout the day in light of all that I have become. I am now learning how to elevate my thoughts and emotions in real-time, and the skill is transforming my life in ways I never imagined.

When I first read Tolle’s book, probably my most memorable take-away was that the moment you realize you are in the ‘now’, that moment is gone, and you are actually looking back at the past! Clearly I did not understand how to live in the present moment if every now moment is really a past one by the time it registers in my mind as present. (Try repeating that sentence five times fast.)

This week I have been re-immersing myself in Dr. Dispenza’s interviews on YouTube. Here is one of them. So far, he has not said anything that I have not already heard him say. In fact, the books and conference materials explain the same concepts in much more detail than he provides in the interviews, but somehow I am receiving a greater understanding in terms of application. Maybe something that Abraham said is bringing new meaning to Joe’s words, or perhaps some life experience has built a proper framework for me. After all,

words don’t teach, life experience teaches.

Whatever the cause, I am making new connections that I was unable to make before.

The concept is simple enough. We use our memory of who we were yesterday to remind us of who we are when we wake up today. That means that the majority of us depend on our memories of past experiences to tell us who we are in the present moment. Likewise, the beliefs we have about life and others, come from the thoughts of the past that we have practiced over a long period of time. Added to that, the subconscious mind guides and directs 95% of a person’s actions and emotions on a daily basis, yet the majority of the beliefs governing the subconscious were established before we turned five years old. On a subconscious level, we live completely out of our past experiences. This is why lasting change is so difficult to come by.

So the problem becomes that even though the past is gone, we do not actually live like it is. Every morning when I wake up, I formulate a view of myself and the world based on it. If that past was painful, then pain becomes the defining hallmark of my life. I define others based on the past as well, determined to hold a person hostage to the day I became the target of their bad behavior. But because we define our present reality based on the past, we are unable to imagine a different future. And when we do try to imagine our future (thanks to the subconscious programming in our brains) we envision the worst case scenario based on things that happened to us in the past. We know these fears are rooted in events that are now gone, yet we allow those same events to color our picture of tomorrow in dire shades we dare not entertain thoughts about.

What if a person was able to wake up and only see themselves through the framework of who they wanted to be, rather than who they were yesterday? What if people approached everyone they encountered on any given day as if it were the first time they met? No history of wrongs, no preconceived notions of what that person was like, only a soul, just like them, living out the greatest expression of themselves that they could be in that moment in time. What if people learned to ignore everything from their past (since the past literally does not exist in any form as a reality) and began to focus their attention on the present moment, in the context of becoming the greatest expression of themselves that they could be? Maybe that is what John Lennon really meant.

Would you be willing to imagine such a world? Do you think that you could imagine it? A world where people everywhere viewed themselves and others in light of what we are becoming, rather than dragging forward what we/they have been. The fact is, the only way to truly live in the present moment is to utterly leave the past behind. Tolle probably said that, but clearly I did not get it.

The key to it all is the human brain’s incredible ability to use thought. Did you know that when you entertain a memory (a thought) of something that occurred in the past, your brain produces the exact same cocktail of chemicals that were released during the event itself – no matter how far removed you are from it in time? Human beings are the only species on the planet who have the ability to make a thought as real as an actual event. It follows then, that our brains are capable of producing chemicals equal to future possibilities through thought alone as well. In this way, our thoughts are able to bring the future we desire into the present moment, but instead we continue to practice the habit of dragging the pain of the past into our now. We could be dreaming about a future filled with joy, appreciation, love, health, peace, and happiness – all along releasing the necessary chemicals that can change the hard-wired programming in our brain. This skill would enable you and me to live with intention going forward, and it is the true meaning of the power of now.

Backward is impossible. Forward is inevitable. And if you can imagine it, you can create it – good, bad, or indifferent. We have the choice to stare fixedly at the past, or to dare to imagine a better future. Whatever we give our attention to is what we will create in our present now reality.

Perception really is everything.

Heart Space

The view from our host’s cabana.

Winter is my least favorite time of the year. Even as a kid, I could take or leave the snow, and I have never, by any stretch of the imagination, enjoyed cold weather. As for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding? Blech, I am hopeless at both! No wonder I adored the time we spent in Hawaii. But this winter has seemed particularly harsh to me. Besides an early snowfall and frigid temps, the wind has been brutal. And if you know me at all, you have heard me complain about it too. Continue reading “Heart Space”

Looking Forward in 2018

Happy 2018
Happy New Year!!

Abraham Hicks likes to remind us that our inner being never looks back. In fact, whatever is manifesting today is the result of a bygone vibration. She often describes the present reality or current manifestation as a piece of gum that has had all of the flavor chewed out of it. If Hicks is right, then for me to experience any kind of change, my vibration must change ahead of the manifestation. But humans have a difficult time not looking back. We find it almost impossible to take our attention off of what is in order to really focus on what could be. When we focus either on what was (past memories) or what is (current reality), we stay locked into old patterns of thought, action, and reaction. For me, a cursory examination of past and present realities is only useful for one thing: Identifying attitudes, patterns, and habits that I need to leave behind. Continue reading “Looking Forward in 2018”