#BE15for15 – Day 11 – Show your heart some love
There is a Sanskrit proverb that states: For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth. This link between breathing well and healthy outcomes is not just a thing of proverbs. It is well established that full intentional breathing has a very dramatic impact on how our body works!
Our breath is one of very few ways we can quickly and directly make changes to our physiology. When we breathe using a full, steady breath pattern, we are giving a break to our hard working heart and cardiovascular system. Our heart rate slows and our blood pressure lowers. Our body can focus on repair functions, like healing the wear and tear that comes along with constant use.
The alternating change in pressure between the abdomen and chest that happens when we breathe with our diaphragm creates a pumping action that helps return blood from the inferior vena cava (a large vein bringing oxygen poor blood back from the lower body) to the heart. The blood can then pass through the capillaries at the lungs and pick up oxygen to take out to the organs, tissues and cells again. This action from full movement of the diaphragm helps lighten the load on the cardiovascular system.
After viewing and reflecting on the gentle massage that diaphragmatic breathing gives the heart, set an intention to focus on that gentle massaging action while you experience your mindful breathing practice today. With each inhale, feel yourself drawing love into your heart. You can choose a color for this loving energy if it helps you to better visualize it. With each exhale, feel this loving energy radiating through your chest and then through your whole body. You can mentally repeat a mantra such as “inhale love – exhale love” or anything else that helps you connect to loving self care.
When you feel ready to begin your practice, set your timer – or press play to begin your guided Daily Breathe Easy practice (included with the Breathe Easy audio book). Allow yourself to continue to observe your breath for 15 minutes. Focus on the easy, gentle, loving massage that your lungs and diaphragm offer your heart during your practice today. Notice any thoughts, sensations, or emotions that reveal themselves to you through this experience. Do not fight them or judge them. Simply notice what shows up and allow it to be. Keep connecting with the movement at your heart, chest and belly.
Maintain this connection to your breath and when you feel ready, gently blink your eyes open if you have closed them.
Notice how you feel after connecting with your breath. If you are using a journal during this process (which I highly recommend), record how you feel after your second 15 minute experience. Did you feel subtle movement of the breath in the back of your body? How does it feel to connect with the movement within your chest? How does your heart feel? Write down any observations that feel important to you about this awareness based experience with your breath in your journal now. Did this experience feel challenging? Did it feel easy? What did you notice? Was your practice today different than yesterday? If so, in what way(s)? Remember to be kind and to give yourself the gift of grace. Tomorrow we will discuss more of the benefits of a mindful breathing practice and how mindful breathing can change our brains! If you have any thoughts or questions you would like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments section! I’ll do my best to keep up!