Holding Your Breath

Holding Your Breath 

Waiting for the shoe to drop

16854815 - funny young woman with colorful air balloons enjoyingSo many people are holding their breath, waiting for the next shoe to drop.  It seems to us that if we can just keep holding our breath then we won’t feel what is about to happen next.  Why is it that we don’t want to feel what will happen next when we don’t even know what will happen?  It is because our minds like to create the most potentially devastating stories about what things mean and how something that might occur might threaten us.  So we live with this lurking feeling of potential threat and we hold our breath in attempt to not feel it.

This holding of our breath is conscious for some people and unconscious for others, meaning you might be really aware that your breath is not fluid, rhythmic, deep, easeful or full or you may have no idea at all.  We often need contrast to become aware of ourselves and our patterns.  This applies to our breathing patterns as well.  If you’ve had experiences in your life where your breath was labored or challenged it becomes really easy to recognize when that is not the case because there is contrast.  However if your breathing has been relatively stable throughout your life you may not yet realize that more expansive or restful breath is possible because you have not yet experienced that something more is indeed possible.  

Breathing occurs naturally.  Air comes in and out of our lungs without us needing to think about it or make it happen.  Yet when this feels like it is not the case, for example if we feel short of breath or the breath feels shallow, there is quite naturally an added survival panic response that results.  It is like throwing more fuel on the fire.  As our anxiety heightens then our breath feels less and less full, the more resistance builds up in our body and the harder it feels to breathe.  Resistance is the primary ingredient that interferes with the natural process of breathing in the first place.  

This brings us back to the feeling sensation of waiting for the next shoe to drop.  When we clench or grip to protect ourselves from feeling something we put our body in a state of tension aka resistance.  Resistance makes everything more challenging including our breath.  Many people are not aware of how much they resist or attempt to prepare themselves against the impact of something potentially bad happening to them.  In fact it is this preparation or “on guard state of being” that is far more uncomfortable then simply feeling the impact of thing we are attempting to not feel the impact of.  

While this all seems rational and we might get it conceptually, particularly if nothing feels super uncertain or turbulent in our life in the moment, allowing ourselves to get it physiologically is another thing entirely.  To convince ourselves to feel the thing that everything in our mind is telling us is unsafe to feel or that we don’t want to feel is the perpetual dance we do with our defenses.  See for most people their defenses are running the show pretty much all of the time.  We tend to not notice this and think that we are in charge and not our defenses if our life seems to be going relatively well and we are in agreement with what is showing up in our reality.  However when our life shakes up a little bit and something arrives in our experience that feels unknown or undesirable we get a front row show to just how much our defenses are really in charge. 

Story of our Defenses

Bridge from concept to direct physiological experience 

perspective of wood bridge in deep forest crossing water stream and glowing light at the end of wooden waysSo you might be asking what is the story with our defenses.  First of all it may be helpful to know we all have them and their job is to protect us from harm.  They develop as mechanisms of survival for this body-mind organism.  Some of our defenses develop when we are really young and are more primitive.  They are more easily recognized as they tend to be more reactionary, emotional or physical in nature.  Other defenses develop when we are a little bit older and are more sophisticated, rational and logical.  These more sophisticated defenses are much tricker because they are based on socially acceptable rules of engagement.  We often think that we are these defenses and it is more challenging to see that our defenses are running the show of our life because we just think it is who we are.  These defenses are also more thought based meaning they are activated in response to memories of past experiences and anticipation of future events.  

Though the job of our defenses is to protect us from harm this comes with a cost.  That cost is fragmentation, separation and disconnection.  We have quite normalized living disconnected partly because we haven’t had a ton of contrast as to what it is to live connected, so disconnection seems normal.  The long term effects of fragmentation, separation and disconnection are far more reaching then any of us might currently realize.  

Bringing this back to our body, physiology and breath we must ask ourselves how we bridge this gap between knowing conceptually about our defenses to being able to move through them and feel the experiences that they are attempting to push away.  The result of this being that we open our system, relax and allow breath to breathe in and out of this body in its full, rhythmic, expansive, vital and deeply nurturing ways.  

If for a moment you think of breath as life, as what you are, rather than all of the rest of the stuff that you identify with, how would that shift your focus and change your relationship to breath?  In seeing that when you create tension patterns based on unconscious and conscious stories created inside of your own mind, that interfere with the movement of breath in and out of your body, what you are really doing is resisting life.  Creating resistance to breath is the foundation for resisting life.  Life is a myriad of infinite expressions and comes with an entire gamut of sensations, feelings, emotions and experiences.  Some of these sensations, feelings, emotions and experiences will feel amazing and others will feel horrible.  There is no real way around this unless you completely 100% shift your perspective to seeing only divine perfection in everything making every experience blissful, which for most people at this stage in the game is not impossible but highly improbable.  Due to this improbability at this current time/space nexus we must cultivate another strategy that will open us to life rather than close us down to it.  That strategy is willingness, self-permission, allowing and inner invitation to feel, sense and experience the entire gamut of whatever experiences show up in our lives no matter how uncomfortable or undesirable they are for us.  

This is a tall order I know.  Yet the only way to the other side is through.  Going through means feeling and experiencing all of it so that none is left out, split or fragmented.  This is how we arrive at the experience of connectedness and wholeness.  We leave nothing out.  We reject nothing.  Through that we arrive at wholeness.  Breath, life, moves in and out of these bodies, free and unimpeded.  

Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado

The Dynamic Principle of Awakening

The Dynamic Principle of  Awakening

Ingredients of the Universe

Illustration man sitting in pose of lotus. Meditation on outer sWe are all awakening.  Every being, human and other, within this universe is waking up to more and more of itself.  Awakening is the blueprint of creation.  It’s written in the fabric of the cosmos and intelligently informs all expressions of life, including you. What does it mean to awaken?  Awakening is the process of becoming increasingly self-aware.  As you become more and more aware of yourself, the self that you once identified or thought of as you begins to dismantle its ideas, boxes and containers of what/who it thinks it is, so that a greater experience of your self is revealed and known to you as you.  Meaning what you once identified as you changes and you re-identify as something beyond what you previously did.  In a nutshell that is awakening.  The final identity, if you will, is an identity of pure being, or what people describe as oneness or God. 

Often when people think about awakening they think about meditation, silence and inner contemplation.  While these are aspects or modes to assist in awakening they are not awakening itself.  What awakens is consciousness to itself and this can come through many different modes and look a lot of different ways outside of these traditional ideas.  

For simplicity consider that there are two primary ingredients to this universe.  There is consciousness/awareness (these terms mean the same thing) which is still, unmoving, intelligent and unchanging.  Then there is energy/movement, which is dynamic and always changing and making new configurations of forms.  This energy/movement is the dynamic principle of creation and it is how things come into existence.  This energy/movement is at its core, Love.  In this way Love is the substratum of all of creation.  It is the matrix with which everything gets built from and on. Ultimately love is informed by awareness/consciousness.  So awareness (pure being) intelligently moves love.  This is what we call creation.  A blend of awareness and love.   

Active Love 

Coming into expression

statue golden girl doing yoga at sea 3d illustrationYou can think of love and awareness as two sides of the same coin.  They are inseparably one yet seemingly different aspects of creation from a relative perspective.  Awareness knowing itself as intelligent pure potentiality and active love making the pure potentiality of awareness come alive through light and the myriad of expressions and forms.  Our soul/higher self is an expression of this intelligent aware love that has more remembrance of what it is then say our human minds know us to be.  Our souls are each expressing a unique aspect of awareness/love while simultaneously knowing that they are that one awareness/love.  As human beings we too are expressing a unique aspect of awareness/love yet we don’t remember that we are that one awareness/love.  This is the difference between the human perspective and the soul perspective of ourselves and hence the “need” for a path of awakening, back into this remembrance of ourselves.

This brings me to the dynamic principle of awakening which is love.  Many beings awaken to and through this active principle of love and into increasingly subtler and subtler aspects of it.  In essence all that is, is an expression of love and yet we can increase the brightness of our awareness to realize it (aka ourselves) at more refined levels.  The most dense or grossest level is physicality.  As the brightness of our awareness increases we are able to tune into, realize and experience the more subtle aspects to our beingness, first realizing our energy body, then our soul body and eventual back to the one pure beingness body.

When our awareness wakes up to our soul body we have dismantled many of our identity boxes that have kept us as being a separate being.  This is the level of being or identity in which there is no longer a separate person moving this form we call a body.  Instead because that story/idea of being a separate person has dismantled, at least to some degree, awareness/love moves through forms much less impeded or distorted.  This is when people begin to experience spontaneous or non-planned/non-thought movement and energy course through their physical form.  At first it can be surprising and the “person” identity can come back in and feel like its being moved by some outside force or energy.  However with further awakening one comes to realize that it is the prime mover rather than the one being moved.  

For many this is their path to awakening.  Rather then a purely meditative/awareness path it is a path that includes energy and the dynamic love aspect of beingness.  Both are the one simultaneously.  It seems in general that people tend to gravitate towards one aspect more than the other.  Meaning some focus strictly on the pure awareness aspect (more meditative) while others focus on the love/movement aspect (more energy).  I have found that there are different phases and rhythms where the focus on one aspect rather than the other is of benefit as a being awakens.  I personally do not believe that focusing one aspect is superior than the other (though some will definitely disagree with me), instead I find both mutually beneficial to the journey.  Always follow your own resonance as it is your best guide to what you need to awaken.      

Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration

Slowing down

Slowing down 

Gaining awareness of self

slowing downWe live in a fast paced world and even more than that our minds are going at a million miles a minute.  Our outer world is a reflection of our inner world.  Among spiritually focused people there is often a desire to gain greater awareness of self and most think that the more they think about something the clearer they will understand and get themselves.  

We may not even be aware of how much we are thinking about stuff.  In fact when people say that they need to “integrate” something they’ve learned typically they mean that they need to think about it more.  Integration however is not thinking more about what we already know, but instead living what we’ve learned.  

The first step in slowing down is detaching from your thoughts.  As you do this you may realize just how addicted to thinking you are.  Going from one thought to the next thought without space or silence leaves no room for new awareness.  What it does is perpetuates what you already know and regurgitates it over and over.  It may feel to your mind that you are “getting somewhere”, but in the end you are left with that unresolved, unclear feeling that you can’t quite put it all together or see what’s really going on.  

Contradictory to what our minds will want to habitually do we must learn to slow down and even stop our minds frequently throughout our day in order to gain greater awareness of ourselves, our patterns, our triggers, etc.  Without that it will be challenging for us to see ourselves and thus to create changes that we desire.    

Increasing our capacity to feel 

The pace of the emotional body

feelingIn addition to creating the space for greater awareness, slowing down will also allow us to feel more than think.  Many people have a desire to be more intuitive or in touch with the natural rhythms of life.  The emotional-feeling body has a much slower pace than the mental body (mind/thoughts), and the physical body an even slower pace.  In order to bridge the gap between our mind and our body (aka our lived experience) we need to slow down and begin to feel again.  

Often times we don’t even know what we are actually feeling because we are so consumed with our thoughts.  We may even be thinking our feelings.  By this I mean creating stories around our feelings and about what they mean.  We may convince ourselves that this is feeling, but really we are just looping the same story over and over.  We might even cry or feel rage or upset, however if it feels “familiar” and not deeply vulnerable its most likely a reaction to a story you are telling yourself and not authentic feeling.  

Being consumed with thoughts puts us out of touch with what is real and into a kind of self created fantasy world.   For some it is a pleasant fantasy world but not grounded here, and for others it is a painful fantasy world that they can’t seem to escape.  

When we hang out in our thoughts things and people seem like separate objects to us.  We lose the sense of the interconnectedness of everything.  The mind is great at thinking, it’s a master of thinking, but it cannot feel or know.  Those abilities come from different aspects of ourselves, namely our emotions and our soul body.  These bodies are often less familiar to us because we spend so much time thinking.  That however does not make them any less real or valid.

The number one key to gaining greater awareness of self, feeling, becoming more in tune with life and living interconnectedness is slowing down your mind.  Allowing space.  Detaching from the addictive tendency to think another thought that you think will somehow give you a magical solution or answer to something.  Magical living arising spontaneously when something beyond the mind is allowed to enter your awareness.

Dr. Amanda Hessel, Chiropractor, Network Spinal Analysis & Somato-Respiratory Integration, Boulder, Colorado