“The tranquility of order is a dynamic tranquility, the stillness of a flame burning in perfect calm, of a wheel spinning so fast that it seems to stand still. Silence in this sense is not only a quality of the environment, but primarily an attitude, an attitude of listening. … Let us give to one another that gift of silence, so that we can listen together and listen to one another. Only in this silence will we be able to hear that gentle breath of peace, that music to which the spheres dance, that universal harmony to which we, too, hope to dance.”
~ David Steindi-Rast
We have a mantra at our Center: Pause, Breathe, Proceed. It’s one of the ways we encourage our community to pay attention to internal stirrings, to open up and create space for mind and body connection. Awareness of our breath can access the intelligence in our body and mind, establishing new patterns and responses. This way of tuning in aides in the development of awareness as to what is occurring when under stress, anxious or experiencing any agitation present in the mind and body. It implores a deeper listening.
The body is often held hostage when under duress. Picture a fire drill going off in the body and every cell running around trying to put the fire out without “water” to extinguish the flames. The “water” is your breath.
Establishing space for the body to unhook from the myriad of racing thoughts is essential for inducing calm. Scientists have known for a long time that there exists a strong connection between respiration and mental states. Improper breathing produces diminished mental ability. The reverse is also true. It is a known fact that mental tensions produce restricted breathing. Pausing and placing our focus on our breath allows for inhalation to bring oxygen to our tissues, while exhalation moves waste from the body. Breath work is a vital nutrient for mental and physical wellbeing.
If your desire is to deepen your ability to increase the capacity for more H2O and more self-awareness, consider upping the ante with making time for stillness and silence on a more regular basis, especially in prolonged strenuous times. Lao Tzu reminds us that silence is a source of strength.
Regularly I am reminded of the importance to make time for silence and stilling my body. When my mind is unsettled, when thoughts hold me hostage, when I feel powerless or fill in the blanks, my body physically aches.
On a fairly consistent basis I find myself deeply listening to someone’s plight with cancer, a caregiver’s struggle with helplessness and profound grief. Losses, powerlessness, pain, anger and despair – I bear witness to it all. I observe how many hold tension in their bodies AND the formidable change when the practice of breathing and mindfulness practices are executed.
Many of us encounter arduous times and other life trajectories that can bring us to our knees. I’m not trying to oversimplify. I recognize the enormity of distress many endure. Mind body medicine is my wheelhouse. My suggestions are to aide in promoting wellbeing and bring peace to the mind and body.
The next time you are caught in a struggle, watch how you hold your breath, what’s going on in the body, where is the tension being held. When you notice what is occurring, allow for three deep breaths then allow for awareness of natural breathing without changing it or manipulating it.
PAUSE. BREATHE. PROCEED.
One final note or perhaps plug for integrating the practice of mindfulness techniques such as breathing, pausing and proceeding is offering authentic presence for those you love. One of the most powerful forces in providing great comfort is in truly seeing someone, the whole person accompanied by genuine presence and deep listening. It has been my experience that in order to provide this presence we must first be with ourselves, intimately, uncomfortably and sincerely taking a seat in an attempt to still the body, listen without judgment and become an observer of our own thoughts.
Blessings for peace,
Pause, Breathe, Proceed,