Breath is fundamental. Everyone breathes! You can do it any time you want, and no one will think you’re a total weirdo. Most of us don’t even pay any attention to our breathing, which is actually super lucky…we already have a million other things to think about, right? And after all, a certain level of mindlessness in our life is fine — brushing our teeth, drying ourselves off after a shower, putting on our shoes. It lets our brain save space for the big ideas. Still, we need to be conscious enough of those patterns to understand when they stop to serve us.
Practice becoming conscious
Making time in your day to consciously breathe is my favorite way to break myself out of that mindless cycle. So, here’s how it works: first I want you to breathe in, hold that breath inside of yourself for a few moments, and then exhale and let it all go. As you breathe in, feel which parts of your body are expanding, which parts feel constricted…become aware of all the parts of yourself. You’ll find that as you continue to do this, all the other busy stuff in your head starts to fade away.
Most of the time our brains are running a million miles a minute thinking about something that’s already happened (Did I say the right thing? Make the right impression?) or something that’s in the future (What do I still need to do? What will they think of me?). When we focus on our breathe we’re 100% in the present moment, which is a huge gift to be able to give to yourself. It’s a way to get comfortable with the fact that nothing is really in our control, to tell our brains “Hey, chill out for a moment — you’re gonna like this.”
Once you’re comfortable focusing on your breath, I want you to consider the fact that breathing is simply one form of expansion; it’s a way of opening yourself up, both literally and metaphorically, to something new. This is how we make space for possibility in our lives — you can use your body and physicality to usher in the change you want to see in your life. Typically we rely on our brains for information, which rely on our eyes, which are far from reliable; with breathe, we let go of conscious control and hand the reins over to our body.
This is where the next phase of this practice comes in. Take your hands, put them together in prayer over your chest, then inhale and stretch your arms out wide behind you, finishing by exhaling and closing your hands together again in prayer in front of your heart. Be aware of your shoulders and rib cage and arms expand, how good it feels — it’s the joy of possibility, of breaking out of your routines and habits. When you want something new to come into your life it’s your job to make space for it, and this is how we do that.
Make space for possibility
Finally, I want you to practice your breath while you think about what you want — I want you to breathe with specific intention. Focus on your desire, no matter how small it is, and begin to make space for it, to call it to yourself and be open to receiving whatever comes. I invite you to let go of the pressure or stress of needing to know how a thing will happen and simply welcome the possibility of it.
This isn’t easy. We’ve been taught to achieve our goals with masculine energy, by working as hard as possible and having to be better than anyone else and trusting no one. More often than not this way of living doesn’t feel good, and it doesn’t make us healthy or happy. We keep approaching our problems and goals in the same way, expecting different outcomes — this practice is about letting go of the tools we were raised with and relying on a more ambiguous, open, and feminine energy. Just as we don’t need to think about breath to make it work, we don’t need to understand exactly what steps to take to achieve something, to experience the possibility of it.
Healing ourselves starts with breath
I don’t know about you, but physical practice is really important for me because sometimes I’m just so damn sick of talking and operating from the neck up! We have a whole body, we’re part of an entire machine, an intelligent learning machine full of power that can do so much without our minds needing to consciously think about it. This kind of practice recognizes and supports that by flooding your body with oxygen and opening and expanding muscles that we normally keep clenched and tight.
Breath is a connection to the infinite. It’s a way for us to tap into the divine and be a part of creation. If you want something new to happen, it’s not about having the solution from the start: it’s about creating the space for surprise and delight and challenge and all sorts of emotions to flow through you when you release control. Start with your body — if you don’t know the answer and you’re feeling frustrated, start with the body, start with breath.