If there is one thing that a lockdown teaches, it’s the illusion of time being key to achieving our joy. So, now what?
If you are like me, you will by now have realised that the mistake we’ve been making is believing that, if only we had time to think about it, or act on it, we’d realise our bliss. Lots of us have had more time recently. Where’s the bliss?
By now in lockdown, I’ve realised having a pot of time with which to feel better is a total misconception, unless my life’s purpose was to find that having time to tidy up didn’t make me want to tidy up, either domestically or mentally! Stripped of the illusion ‘If only I had the time to … then I’d find my bliss’, I’ve never become more aware of what a scatter gun approach my thoughts have to where more consistent joy might lurk. My thoughts peck or any old idea of what long term bliss might be, peer at it sideways as if determining, is this the thing that will finally crack the joy code? And then, like a magpie in a jewelry shop, off they flit to the next potential gem. It’s exhausting!
Let’s work with one never-ending well of joy today: breathing.
Left, then, without many of the usual external salves and distractions that bring temporary joy (any one else missing even the possibility of window shopping?) in this locked down and semi-lockdown state, I suspect we’ve all had to learn to be a little more resourceful with, well, our external resources and I’ve come to the conclusion that, this is a good thing. Why? Well, it has brought us back to the thing we do reflexively with an internal resource: breath. It’s been there day in day out, let’s face it, we all take a first and last breath with lots of gulps, gasps and sighs in between so we all know how to breathe. The irony is, of course, that it took a pandemic that threatens breath to remind us of the joy of breath.
Here’s some quick blasts of joy linked to the breath:
1. One breath
This just feels plain great in a I undersold the potential of my lungs way!
Breathe in deeply, through your nose if you can, fill your lungs until you can’t fit anymore air in. Then, without letting the breath go, take a big, sharp sniff. Breath out (any old way you like).
The breath itself is nice but moments later, your body is mind and body is thanking you.
2. Want mind, body and spirit breathing?
Breath of Fire in Kundalini yoga is a fairly straightforward practice of altering breathing for well being. It tends to be practiced in short bursts of time – 1-3 minutes, through the nostrils and the main thrust is that the breaths are shorter – aim for two ins and outs in a second – sort of the pace a hot dog pants at! Great written tuition is here: https://www.3ho.org/kundalini-yoga/pranayam/pranayam-techniques/breath-fire
3. All is Well Breathing
When I learned this way of breathing from the Matt Khan’s All is Well video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTg1oDNjt-I I knew it was one of the most comforting things I would ever learn.
The principle is that breath does not fail us. It is a constant. Most of the time we live entirely without threat and we forget so we look in front of us, notice there is no threat, and we can know all is well external to us. Internally, the breath is the system for delivering every ounce of love we need: if we need compassion, we breathe in compassion (so you can imagine compassion as a vapour that you are breathing in and say to yourself in your mind as you breath in I am breathing in compassion) and, even better, on the out breath, we share that compassion with the world. It is a very beautiful view on breathing. He works on opposites so, if you feel anxiety, breath in comfort, if you feel rage, breathe in calm and so on. It can sound too simple to believe, so please have a look at why Matt offers it as a loving solution to some current agendas in our world.
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