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Breathe in. Breathe out.

February 12, 2014

 breathing

For those mommies out there, or perhaps athletes or actors, who had to learn how to breathe a certain way to give birth with less pain (yeah right!), or manage your energy and nervous system, you probably recognize the importance of BREATH in these circumstances. But how often do we use our breath daily, consciously, to regulate our emotions and mange our energy?

It just so happens that breath is another one of the primary inputs into our energetic system. If creating a high level of wellness and energy is important to you, then becoming a bit more aware of your breath and using it as a tool is a great way to achieve that goal. In fact, our bodies are mostly made up of water and oxygen (65%). If being more of who we are naturally helps us feel at our best, then giving our bodies more O2 is definitely a great strategy.

I recently learned that while working at a computer, adults’ breathing rate increases by 30% to 18 breaths per minute, which can lead to hyperventilation, increased neck and shoulder tension and fatigue. Add coffee to that equation, and “Houston…we’ve got a problem!” And, since the majority of us are technologically ON all the time with our “smart” tools, is it no wonder we are exhausted, tense and, literally, running out of breath?

Personally, I LOVE my productivity tools, but, I, too, understand the importance of being aware of my breath and using it proactively to help energize me and give me a greater sense of well being.

Here’s a simple way to breathe more life into your mind, body and soul:

Begin to associate sitting with breathing. When you get into your car in the morning take a deep, expanding belly breath and blow it out through your nose. Do this at least three times before you turn on the ignition. Try breathing in slowly to the count of four and slowly exhaling to the count of four.

Then, when you get to your office and sit down at your desk do the same thing. When you need a potty break, guess what? Do it again! (Not kidding). When you sit down to eat, do it again. Continue this throughout the day during those “breaks” when you sit down to begin a new task. Pretty soon you’ll have created the awareness and habit of sitting and breathing—giving you many tiny moments of delicious breath and consciousness.

If you’re super busy and can only take one deep breath each time, that’s okay. It’s a great start and will make a big difference.

Try it out and see how you feel. Ahhh!

Share your outcomes with me below.

Sharing is caring!

It’s your life. Lead it well.

Namaste… Monique

No, not again!

It’s quite ironic that I write this today, as I sit here feeling miserable with the beginnings of a yucky cold! But, I couldn’t help to discuss the “aha” moment I had recently after returning from a great trip to Memphis with my girlfriends (see previous blog below).

Prior to leaving to Memphis I was battling with a hard-core sinus infection that I was doing my very best to treat naturally. However, knowing that my trip could be dramatically affected by this infection, I broke down and purchased Extra Strength Sudafed for the trip.

Although I know that mind over matter helped to keep it under control during the trip (and I will give some credit to the Sudafed!), when I returned home I said to myself, “Ge’ez, I’m not sick any more!” I questioned further, “How is it possible that I left to Memphis with a terrible infection, rested little and utilized every bit of my available energy in Memphis, yet I came back healthier?” I didn’t have an answer, but I was happy with the result.

Later I read an article in O magazine which polled women to find out why they sometimes tear one another down. It listed the following (among other things):

Eighty-eight percent of the respondents reported feeling an undercurrent of negativity among females. That’s really sad, since we can be so good for one another. Research has proven that female-female relationships actually boost our immunity.

Aha! That was the answer I was seeking. My Memphis gals are no “Frenemies,” they are my soul sisters and are actually good for me, like a shot of Vitamin D! I love it.

Oddly enough (or not!), as I sit here sniffling I’m watching a segment on the Today Show about 5 Ways to Prevent a Cold.  According to the segment, women have stronger immune systems than men, but still get about three colds per year. Hmm, sounds pretty right on to me, based on my history.

So, what tips did they offer?

1. Take probiotics  daily, either via a supplement or 1 cup of yogurt a day

2. Take Vitamin D daily, especially during flu season; 1000 units per day

3. Drink 1-2 cups of Green Tea per day

4. Ge a Massage! (20 minutes will do the trick) to reduce levels of Cortisol (which break us down!)

5. Socialize with your friends! Women with a wide diverse social network (Health Psychology) have been found to get colds less frequently.

To view the full segment, click here.

Okay, so it’s confirmed folks, maybe the apple a day used to keep the doctor away, but perhaps a more memorable way to stay healthy and happy is to keep your friends close by!

My ladies, can you all move back home, please?! I think I need you around during flu season!

I’m back to bed with my green tea! I’ve checked off my yogurt and Vitamin D for today. I’m hoping the hubby will indulge me with a nice massage to do the trick!

Have a healthy week!

Monique

A Montana Walkabout - M. Catoggio

I’m so excited! I remember being entranced by novels at the age of 16. I would pick one up on a weekend morning and not close it shut until the sun went down the same day. Sidney Sheldon and Danielle Steel were my favorite authors back then. Good stuff! I don’t believe I’ve read a novel since, mostly because I became fascinated with self-actualization books. What I’ve quickly realized through The Walk is that we also can learn some hearty lessons via a good novel—one that mimics the real life situations many people endure.

Are novels that far-fetched? Some, yes. But all we need to do is turn on the nightly news to experience the realness of our lives.  The Walk is exceptional, and that “I can’t put it down” feeling I had as a young reader has returned.

I’ve chosen to read and blog about The Walk: A Novel, by Richard Paul Evans for two reasons. First, because I have been craving the “Calgon—Take Me Away” sensation a good novel gives me, and second, because the description of this one in particular felt appropriate to be reading right now. I believe the author knew what he was doing creating a piece such as this one, right now, when so many people in our country have lost so much of what was a big part of them—a career, a marriage, a home, or as in the case of The Walk, all of the above and then some.

In the first chapter of the book, the main character, Alan Christoffersen, has this to say…

Life has taught me that to fly, you must first accept the possibility of falling.”

He has fallen hard, and I have to admit that going through the motions with him was not easy. I was holding my breath, clinching my hands, screaming (inside…didn’t want to frighten my little ones!), and crying heavily. Alan definitely takes you for the ride.

In the middle of the book (yes, I’m already almost finished with this one after just one day!) he explains what he’s been through to a stranger he meets in a small town. It’s a great summary of the novel:

“(I had the) Classic riches to rags story. I had the perfect life. And in less than six weeks it was gone. I owned a Seattle advertising agency. Actually, money was only a small part of it. One day my wife was thrown from a horse. She was paralyzed from the chest down. Then a month later, she died from complications. While I was taking care of her, my business partner stole my agency, and my home went into foreclosure. I lost everything. That’s when I decided to walk away.”

He walked all right—3,600 miles to the farthest point from Seattle—Key West.

I guess in a spiritual way I was called to this novel because of the many benefits one can receive from walking. Aside from exercise, walking can be a form of mindful meditation, and for me, it has always been a source of creativity. I can not only come to closure on issues that are “in my way,” but also come up with some great ideas while going for a walk. Or, as I like to say, the answers and ideas come to me.

In the novel, Alan has this to say about his decision to walk…

“In that moment it was clear to me what I had to do…the only thing left for me to do. I needed to walk far away. I believe that in spite of the chains we bind ourselves with, there’s a primordial section of the human psyche that is still nomadic and still yearns to roam free. We see evidence of this in the walkabouts of the Australian aborigines and the Spirit Walk of the native Americans. But it’s not new. Every generation has dreamed of roaming. Deep in our hearts everyone wants to walk free.”

You will find many aha moments while reading The Walk, and there are definitely lessons the author hopes we will learn from his masterpiece. Things like, walking a day in your father’s shoes (Alan’s mother died when he was young and now he understands—a bit—what his father went through); listening to your intuition (his no good, crooked partner); not living beyond your means (the success of his agency enticed them to have it all NOW), and taking the time to smell the roses (would his wife have had the accident if he had taken her up on her invitation to spend the day together instead of rush to work as usual?). And, there are many more lessons we can learn as Alan begins his journey—on foot— to Key West.

One final one that truly made me stop and think, and I’ll close with this, is the transition of death. I see so many individuals struggle and fall into deep darkness at the loss of a loved one. In the book, Alan is definitely in the pit of that darkness. When we lose someone it is hard to find the light in the darkness. For many, they never find that light. Here are a few passages in the book spoken by a small town stranger (to Alan) that helped me feel lighter about death when I walked in Alan’s shoes:

“That’s all death requires of us, to give up living. The thing is, the only real sign of life is growth. And growth requires pain. So to choose life is to accept pain. Some people go to such lengths to avoid pain that they give up on life. The irony is, in the end their escape becomes more painful than what they are avoiding….You know, (Alan) she’s not really gone. She’s still a part of you. What part of you is your choice. She can be a spring of gratitude and joy, or she can be a fountain of bitterness and pain. It is entirely up to you…The greatest secret of life is that we find exactly what we’re looking for. In spite of what happens to us, ultimately we decide whether our lives are good or bad, ugly or beautiful.”

At this point in the story, Alan has only walked for a handful of days. Some may get the feeling that he’s given up, that he is weak for not fighting for his agency, for his home, for his life. But is he weak? There is a powerful Zen quality to this story that I appreciate. Sometimes the transformation we seek is in letting go instead of holding on and fighting. I believe Alan is powerful and courageous, and he is on his way to finding that within him which will lead him home—wherever that may be.

How can you choose happiness in this moment?

What in your life may you be seeing as bad or ugly, which can instead be a source of beauty for you?

Walk on, and have a wonderful week.

Namaste,

Monique

My Relaxed Book Club will discuss selections from books I feel help high-achieving professionals continue to develop themselves and work on their personal leadership leading to more fulfilled, balanced and successful lives and careers.