EVERY BREATH, EVERY DAY
Every breath is a beginning. Right now I am learning the rhythms of my body, the rhythms of my day. I have been using biofeedback equipment which makes a record of my heart, the beats of my heart and the spaces between them. There is a natural rhythm: the heart rate increases on the in-breath and slows down on the out-breath. I am learning to synchronize breath and pulse. You don’t need to be hooked up to do this. Simply breathe slower, more deeply, smooth and regular, allow it to develop without forcing. When I watch this breathing on the monitor the amplitude expands from a scratchy squiggle into long even waves. If I try too hard, I feel a pressure and these waves begin to crumble at the peak. Experiment till you find the rhythm that is right for you – a wave like breathing that is deep and easy, naturally flowing in and out. Perhaps it will remind you of moments just before falling asleep.
When you find this place of synchronization your nervous system reaches a balanced state where the body can relax and renew. A host of good things begin to happen: you feel noticeably more relaxed, thinking becomes clearer, your serum pH becomes balances and your blood pressure lowers.
But breath is only one of the rhythms I am exploring. Throughout the day there are times when energy increases and slows down. Most of us have observed a ‘morning energy’ when it is easy to get things done. I had thought that energy simply declined throughout the day, then I discovered the concept of ultradian rhythms which are simply patterns of energy variation during the day, for instance patterns of hunger. There is one rhythm which especially interests me: a cycle of energy which lasts around 90 minutes and then drops for around 20 minutes. Scientist have discovered that during those 20 minutes we tend to get irritable and make mistakes. Learning to work with this rhythm rather than push through it allows the body and mind to renew their resources.
So the next time you are feeling tired or stressed think about these rhythms. Do you need to take a healing break? Why not compound the effect by practicing your deep, even breathing? Conversely you may find it is bursts of energy that are lacking, making you sluggish. Remember after a rest to get up and do something active and optimize your mind-body rhythms.
As a hypnotist there is one other pattern that fascinates me: the rhythms of the brain. When we take a break our brainwaves begin to amplify and slow down in a very similar pattern to that of our heart rate variable. This time of lower mental activity is the ideal state for meditation and hypnosis. By simply combining slow, deep and even breathing with an awareness of space you can easily enter the alpha state, that very pleasant magical place where conscious and subconscious minds meet.
For instance, let’s imagine that right now as you are reading this you are resting and have become a little more aware of your breathing, which has become deeper and slower in response. Notice, right now, what happens if you become aware of the space between the words you are reading. Is it possible for you to imagine becoming aware the space in which you are sitting at the same time as you are aware of the space between the words you are reading? Can you sense a shift in your awareness as you read, noticing the spaces between words and the space in which you are sitting and the space within you? Can you imagine this is the space where things can happen?