One night during my young adulthood, I attended a party with a friend and her boyfriend. Before the end of the night, my friend got drunk, really drunk! During the ride home from the party, she struggled with keeping her stomach contents in tact. She was sick, really sick! She moaned and groaned about how her stomach felt and threatened to heave it up at anytime throughout the ride home. She didn’t, however!
Later, she thanked me for helping her get through the ordeal while managing to keep it all down. Well, what did I do that was so darn amazing that it prevented a young woman who rarely drank to that extreme from vomiting?
Well, you see, I told her to breathe. It was something I learned at a time when I wasn’t feeling so well myself. The last thing I wanted to experience was having my prior food and beverage consumption purge unnaturally against the laws of gravity.
I recall the experience I had when I felt nauseous. It was during an experience like this that I happened to stumble across the concept of deep breathing. I imagine it was a feeling of irritation that made me take a deep breath that allowed me to experience relief from the nausea. Being irritated that I was sick to my stomach and feeling immense discomfort and helplessness, I took in a deep breath only to exhale my frustrations. I mean, who wants to throw up anyway? It is a dreadfully violent autonomic reflex reaction to something the body is rejecting. It is not the sort of thing most people see as being a pleasant experience. I do whatever I can to avoid it at all costs.
I guess I found value in stumbling upon this bit of body awareness and offered it to my friend that night when she was in need. The wonderful thing is that it not only worked for her but she gave it a try. What did she have to lose except, of course, her stomach bile?
There is something about breathing that causes the body to relax. I’m not a physiologist however, I know a thing or two about bodily functions. Basically what happens when we inhale, the diaphragm (a large, dome-shaped muscle at the bottom of the rib cage) relaxes moving down further into the lower chest cavity. When we exhale, the opposite occurs. The diaphragm contracts pushing up into the higher area of the chest cavity pushing air out of the lungs.
Our stomachs find relief from other organs and muscular pressure whenever we breathe deep into our bellies. This is sometimes referred to as Belly Breathing. As we release the air from the belly up into the chest and out, all engaged abdominal muscles relax while the diaphragm contracts pushing up into the lungs. Exhaling provides more abdominal space for the stomach to rest in a relaxed state for a moment. The longer the exhale, the more time the stomach has to relax. For anyone struggling with nauseating pressure within their abdominal area, this can be a welcomed relief.
Breathing relaxes our bodies. Most people do not breathe deeply enough. The main reason for this is from being largely unaware of what our bodies are doing in each moment. Breathing being an autonomic action means we don’t have to think about breathing. Thank goodness! Just imagine if we had to think before each breath in order to sustain life.
Being an extremely valuable tool to help us feel better, physically, it is also a necessary function in the effort to regain or maintain mental and emotional health. How?
Enter meditation. What is it?
Meditation is the act of watching our breath. It is an awareness of something without distraction. It is a state of consciousness where the mind is calm and at peace; it is without thought. One can be meditating on a particular thing such as watching a hummingbird extract flower nectar from a nearby fruit tree, listening to a favorite classical music piece, painting a picture, reading a book, or simply breathing.
There are two main reasons and while they seem to be separate reasons they are anything but separate. The first reason is to help relax the mind and body to regain or maintain some form of physical, mental or emotional well-being. The second reason is to reach a higher vibrational state of consciousness.
How is this done?
To a great extent, meditation involves disengaging the brain from mind activity. During the meditative process, the brain enters into its Alpha state. The Alpha brainwave state is marked by feelings of bodily relaxation and a wakeful peacefulness lacking any kind of concentration or sensory stimulation. It is semi-consciousness. This is the last state before sleep, before the brain (goes on vacation) slips into unconsciousness. Through conscious breathing, the brain disengages; this, being referred to as a state of mindfulness.
For the past 12 years or more I’ve been practicing the daily ritual of meditation. The key to reaching mindfulness through meditation is breath. Over the past twelve years, meditation has helped clarify my purpose in life and has assisted in healing old physical, mental and emotional wounds that without it, I’d be drowning in my pain.
I resisted the idea of meditation in the beginning simply because I did not want to work at trying to be at peace. I just wanted it to overcome me and always be with me. However, it does not work that way. We have to put an effort into watching how we breathe. Not only do we have to commit to breathing mindfully, we also have to commit the time it takes to do it.
We must promise ourselves that we are worth both the time and the effort. We do this so that we can change our lives for the better. Meditation helps us reach into our Souls and communicate with Its higher wisdom. Wisdom is the solution to all human suffering and pain.
Meditation takes us out of ourselves for just a time long enough to enter the stillness of joy and peace. Its benefits are numerous. Our minds become restful. We become less anxious and depressed. We become fearless, strong and courageous. We find hope, again, and look out to our world with less condemnation and hatred. We find love in others and within nature. We change our relationships, excel in our careers, and strive to raise up others as we have been raised. As a result, we heal our minds, we heal our bodies, and we heal our spirits.
Meditation helps us reach a higher, less dense, frequency of energy. We become less ego and more spiritual. In other words, we heal our fears and experience love; the kind of love we do not necessarily understand. The great thing about this kind of love is that we don’t have to understand it to reap the rewards.
Breathing in deeply connects us to our real selves – our Souls. Through Soul communication, we gain wisdom and clarity. Mindful communication with our intuitive Self guides us down the right path and heals our hearts and minds. We find purpose and connection with all things. We begin to experience Oneness within and without. Meditation guides us lovingly into the arms of our Creator Who promises peace everlasting.
We can be at peace while walking this planet. Even through the valleys of our daily lives, with mindful breath, we walk in meditation. Breathe and be at peace.