…………it is about exploring all of those avenues that can exist on that journey to getting to the root…………………
For some time now I have been becoming increasingly interested in breathing. More specifically, I wonder why it is we often do it so badly and more importantly, what it is we can do instead. As a therapist, for me, it is about exploring all of those avenues that can exist on that journey to getting to the root of how someone creates that map that leads to that destination which can all too often be pain and/or dysfunction.
In my practice, I routinely see cases where the individual is in often severe pain that has existed for years or is more recent. The interesting thing that is common in almost all cases is, there is rarely an obvious direct cause and effect relationship to what that person is experiencing. So, in other words there has been no trauma or action or incident that can be consciously identified as being responsible for what is being experienced. Many people blame it on sleeping in funny positions, their driving position, the way they walk, the way they sit at work, their mattress isn’t very good, they could do with one of those expensive pillows, it goes on and on. So it’s not always about what you do, it is more often about how and this is linked in with: where are you on a motivational level when you’re performing those things? Where are you on a level of awareness?
……………………It’s brilliant, it’s fantastic and whether you are aware of it or not, the fact is, it has saved your life on numerous occasions already…………………….
Without wanting to appear too deep and weird, if you look at the reason why we’re here at all, it is widely accepted that we are here to survive (some suggest to ensure the survival of our genetic material). So, what the hell does that have to do with severe neck pain, or any other pain for that matter? Good question! We all have within us amazing strategical apparatus which makes all of this possible. The obvious one is the “fight or flight” response, most people are aware of or at least have heard of it. It’s brilliant, it’s fantastic and whether you are aware of it or not, the fact is, it has saved your life on numerous occasions already. So what? No such thing as a free lunch, is there? This response causes many things to happen both mentally and physically, all of which are beyond the scope of this short blog, suffice it to say that there can be a high price to pay in terms of resources used to achieve this state and also what it leaves behind when we need neither to fight nor take flight. And, for many of us, this response is being triggered inappropriately as an over reaction, which can have wide ranging implications both mentally and physically.
……………….you can enjoy more of what you do want in your life and leave behind all of the things you don’t……………..
So what of breathing? Well, breathing is something that is often neglected when we become highly focused on what we think we need to achieve in our daily lives. All of you that are reading this have been fortunate enough to have been able to breathe enough in order to ensure that you have provided your cells with sufficient oxygen. But, is that enough? Well, I guess that all depends on your perspective. And, I guess too, the obvious question is, what do you want? Do you want to get by and survive each day or do you really want to begin living? By choosing the latter, and it is a choice, you can enjoy more of what you do want in your life and leave behind all of the things you don’t and that includes pain, both mental and physical.
Is it really that simple? It is as simple as you choose to make it and this can be an essential first step. There are immense benefits to first of all building an awareness of what you do and then to have an intention to want to do something different. Intention is so much more powerful than we can even begin to imagine. So, if it suits you to do so, begin by creating that awareness around your breathing. Aim to have reasonably deep, refreshing breaths. Now, take it steady and be careful not to expect too much too soon. There will be times when you catch yourself not breathing as well as you could. Just use this as a reminder of your on going commitment to want something different. Be gentle. Take it easy, there is no point in berating yourself. Be thankful for what your awareness has brought you and continue with your intention to breathe fully and in a relaxed manner.
……………….notice what you notice about what is different, now that you are able to breathe more and more freely………………..
Then, and this is so important, notice what you notice about what is different, now that you are able to breathe more and more freely. Take notice, then build on it. In this way, you can create small incremental change that adds up more and more to significantly different outcomes as you continue to progress.
All of this is an excellent companion to any hands on treatment you may receive and important in allowing you to maintain what is achieved in a session. The success of any treatment of any therapy depends on you playing your part and on your ongoing active participation. This is an excellent introduction to that goal.
If all of this seems like too much effort, rest assured that it gets easier. When we learn something new, we have to do that thing consciously. By repetition, it becomes second nature, slips into and becomes part of our unconscious competences. At that point you don’t even know you’re doing it.
Until next time, breathe well. If you have any queries, I’d be happy to answer them for you.
In my next blog, I shall be putting some flesh on the bones of what appears here. I will qualify some of the claims and ideas that I have shared with you. You’ll then be able to see how that ties in with your own experiences of employing intention and awareness.
Take good care, Kevin.