How do you breathe?


Have you ever thought about your breathing? For most it is something that happens subconsciously and we never notice it unless something happens and we suddenly can’t breathe (like going under water, exercising too hard, or an allergic reaction to name a few). But what about while simply going about your life?
As a newly rediscovered yogi and runner, breathing and paying attention to my breathing has become a big part of my life. I find myself actively working to shape and control my breathing, and focusing on it as I never (not even previously during yoga practice) have before. And as I try to truly control, expand, and enhance my breath I am noticing some other great benefits (feeling more energetic, less stressed, and more patient). I personally practice a three part breath with a shuni or patience mudra or hand position.
There are many internet sites that can explain a three part breath so if my explanation confuses you feel free to simply plug “3 part breath” into the Google machine and explore away. But for me a three part breath starts by breathing in through my nose, long thin breaths that fill my belly like a balloon. Once my belly feels full I breathe into my chest opening the space between my ribs and feeling the space around my heart (or heart center) fill and expand with air. Then with a long thing exhale (also through my nose) I slowly breathe out the air in my heart center allowing my ribs to close one by one, then emptying my belly like a deflating balloon. While breathing my breath sounds like waves in my ears. This can be practiced any where at any time, just take a moment to stop, close your eyes and consciously reconnect with your breath. I try to reconnect with my breath at least once an hour as I feel it helps me to stay calm, patient, and remain a loving mommy and person.
I typically practice breathing in a half lotus or ardha padmasana (a cross legged, seated) position and hold my hands in a Shuni Mudra. A mudra is a body position that has an effect on your energy or mind. Typically the most practiced mudras are hand mudras used in meditating. I personally prefer the Shuni mudra as I definitely need to practice and improve my patience. The Shuni mudra is practiced by holding your hands palm up and touching the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your thumb. By holding this pose for at least 15 minutes a day you’re supposed to increase your patience.
Noticing your breath can help you to connect to your physical, mental, and emotional self. While noticing my breath I like to note if it gets stuck or caught anywhere, if it’s maybe not as smooth as it could be. This can tell me if maybe my posture isn’t what it should be, or if I’m mentally stuck, stressed, worried, or if emotionally I’m not dealing with something. I know this all sounds really hippy dippy but by paying attention to my breath I am paying attention to me, which means I can exercise greater control over my thoughts, emotions, actions, and reactions which allows me greater control over my environment and my life. So go forth and conquer the world but be sure to stop and pay attention to your breath once in a while.

What is a simple life?


What does it mean to be a simple person or to lead a simple life? Does it mean that you shun technology, or having the newest, fastest or best of something? Does it mean living the way out grandparents or great grand parents did? What about finding and taking the path of least resistance? Or does living a simple life and being a simple person mean finding our passion, ruthlessly following it and finding beauty and happiness in every day?

I think it’s the last one. Which means living a simple life or being a person of simple desires, isn’t as simple as it might seem. For starters how many of us truly know what our passion is? I’m in my early 30′s and only now seem to be really figuring out what moves and motivates me. And (yep I’m gonna blame my ADHD) while I’m discovering this I’m discovering that it isn’t just 1 or 2 things. It’s more like 10. For example I love food and whole heartedly consider myself a foodie. But food does not motivate me to get up in the morning, nor do I feel the need to sacrifice elsewhere for a special meal.

I suppose I should back up and ask, what is a life shaping, driving passion? Is it something you can’t live without, something your inexplicably drawn to through out your life? Or is it more of an addiction? Something you can’t live without, something that is vital to your self and your happiness? Part of why I am still struggling to identify my passion(s) is because I’m struggling to identify what a life passion is. I do however know I keep coming back to being intrigued and fascinated by clinical Microbiology and the desire to be a health care provider (specifically a doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner).  But at the same time I love books, and food. And I can speak animatedly and fairly coherently (I hope) about yoga and food. And lets not eve get me started on Doctor Who or Sherlock. So perhaps finding my passions requires me to determine what all interests me and when and where those things fit into my life.

I know my kid and my husband are the top two priorities in my life and providing them with a happy healthy home motivates me to do weird things like make and use fabric napkins, homemade laundry soap, and can veggies, fruits and other food. But by no means is canning or homemaking something I absolutely LOVE. I’d be just as happy buying these things if the cost and quality were the same as doing it myself.

But what are my simple life desires? I think they’re a happy, healthy family, a home filled with love, good memories, and books, a job I love (clinical microbiology or medicine), and financial security for my family. But how do you achieve these intangible desires? And what do you sacrifice when one desire conflicts with another? These are the things that keep me up at night. I know a start would be to spend some time focusing on myself and maybe focusing my family on making memories and spending time together instead of buying stuff.

What motivates you and what do you consider a simple life?