I have had difficulty breathing for the past month and a half now. Every time I try to take a breath, it's like there is a brick wall in my lungs. Once I get to a certain point with my inhale, it just… stops. I feel like I never have enough air! This is frustrating, and leaves me with an underlying sense of panic at all times. Although I think I have had an underlying sense of panic for most, if not all, of my 20 1/2 years of life.
I have been thinking a lot about what it is that's locking up my diaphragm. So far, I have come to the conclusion it is a combination of stress, anxiety and pushing too hard in my daily pranayama (Yogic breathing) practice. This morning my teachers helped me to take my pranayama down a notch, and I already feel calmer.
I am seated in front of my computer, and except for my hands, fingers, and the occasional inhale I struggle to take, no other part of me is moving. But on the inside, I feel like there is a crises. Even when all is calm, and I am laying in bed at the end of the day, or seated on the bench on the front lanai watching the whales, I feel upset and scared.
Honestly, I think not only have I had an underlying sense of fear my entire life, I also have had difficulty breathing. I believe I am only just now noticing the way that my diaphragm is restricted. But the first step is always awareness. I am conscious of this, and so now I can change it.
More than anything, I want to know what it feels like to be truly, utterly relaxed. I have had moments of relaxation, to be sure. In savasana after a focused Yoga practice, and a few times in my daily morning meditation when my thoughts have released and I was left in a palpable stillness of mind. But I want more inner peace more of the time! Is that an okay thing to want? Or is it still me grasping and chasing versus just being in the moment with whatever I'm feeling? I suppose if I truly accept where I am at in this moment, whether its angry or scared… then the peace will come.
Out of curiosity, I asked a few people close to me what they thought true relaxation was. I got some really interesting answers!
"To stop thinking about myself. To be fully, truly, wholly present with the world as it is right now, both seen and unseen."
"I don't believe I have ever been truly relaxed so I don't know that i can give you the answer. I've had moments where I felt completely at ease - in the moment and enjoying myself. At those times, I realized that everything seemed to be in order in my life. I was happy with my job, my family, my personal life. In those moments, I was relaxed and at ease with myself. Maybe that is the answer to being relaxed. You find yourself in a place where your personal, professional and financial goals are in line."
"To truly relax to me means to be in certainty of oneSelf and be content. To be honest, humble, grounded in any situation, and trusting in a Higher Power greater than ourselves that things will always work for the better in the end. To know and to believe that everything will be alright. One could call it surrender. Truly relaxed cannot operate without surrender and trusting in Source."
"Being relaxed means that you care/love but are not overly attached to outcome."
"No resistance in the mind or body, ease and flow, sweetness and gentleness inside and out."
Aren't those wonderful? I love asking others' perspective!
Intellectually I understand that to feel more relaxed, I need to change something that I'm doing. And I know exactly what things I need to do differently, but until today I wasn't ready. I am ready now, because I'm done with suffering and feeling stuck.
Last night at an AA meeting, this man with 54 years of sobriety grabbed my hand after the prayer and stepped very close to me. He looked me right in the eyes and said fervently, "You can do anything that you want. You have so much going for you. Don't forget you can do anything that you want! No one is stopping you. If you want to sail a boat around the world, do it! If you want to go skydiving, do it! Whatever it is that you want, you can have it. You gave God plenty of chances to kill you when you were out there drinking, and He didn't… There's a reason you're still alive, and it's not because God wanted you to suffer. God wants us to enjoy life! All you have to do is make a decision that you are going to enjoy today."
Those words struck me. Maybe it was the sincere, eager way he said them to me, or because he repeated himself 5 times, I'm not sure. Either way, it was what I needed to hear.
What I'm Going To Do Each Day To Relax More
1.) Listen only to sattvic music, like Native American flute
2.) Stop eating at the first burp
3.) Eat fresh, organic meals cooked by myself or someone who I know loves me
4.) Pranayama and meditation in the morning with much more focus. I tend to let my mind wander, but from now on I am going to say my mantra and run my energy with more concentration
5.) More focus and dedication in my daily Yoga asana practice
6.) When negative thoughts come, I will turn away from them and focus on the positive!
7.) Stay focused and enthusiastic about my work
8.) Daily journaling, step work and talking with my sponsor
9.) Remember the power of God and that I am always loved and always worthy, no matter what
10.) Remember that my safety does not depend on what anyone else is doing or what anyone else thinks about me
11.) Taking pause 3-4 times a day to close my eyes and focus on my breath
I want to fulfill my Higher Power's desire and enjoy my life each moment, even when I feel angry or sad. I can still be content amongst anger or sadness. Today, this is where I am!
Please feel free to comment and leave your thoughts and experience.
What do you do each day to relax?