Choosing the Present Moment
I have a theory…
We have to choose the present moment. The wording is important here. We are already in the present moment, but our minds are constantly leaping forwards and backward like out of control monkeys. I can hear them now… How much do we actually spend right HERE, right NOW? Unless you are having a riveting experience, it’s a challenge to keep your mind present.
Our bodies are amazing. We have so many powerful symbiotic functions that keep us alive, keep us safe, heal daily DNA damage AND give us the opportunity to engage in the present moment - if we choose. The most powerful function that we have is our breath. Let’s face it; we don’t live without this one. However, for whatever reason, when we are breathing autonomously (without thinking about it) we are only using 10-20% of our lungs. What happened there!!??
Enter the breath. It’s simple; it’s on auto-pilot but, BUT, it’s one of those few bodily functions that we have the option of controlling. Blinking our eyes and swallowing are also similar in that we can opt in to control them but is blinking our eyes and swallowing a do or die function? Dry eyes and a mouth full of saliva aren't comfortable, but they aren’t doing or die functions. So, newsflash, people...WE HAVE CONTROL over a life-altering function!
The Yogis and Martial Artists have known this wonderful news and have founded their superhuman abilities on the premise of breath control. We can bypass the pretzel leg twists and cement block breaking with our foreheads and just tap into the source - the BREATH.
I have been practicing yoga for the past 20 years and teaching it for the past 14 years. I am not sure where my mind would be if it weren’t for the practice of yoga. My mind still loves to take me on wild adventures into the past and future but it’s comforting to know that I can ground myself in the present moment by engaging with some super simple breathing exercises. I’ll share one with you that I do regularly with teenagers. If it can work for them (teens win the prize for the most overactive minds these days), it can work for you too!
5 Square Breathing
Sit comfortably, close your eyes and focus on your cute nostrils (they are cute, btw). Visualize the fullness of your lungs at 100% lung capacity for a few rounds of breath. Also, visualize and practice what 0% lung capacity feels like on the exhale. It is helpful to create an imagery of fullness and emptiness. I like to imagine a balloon, choose your favorite kind and colors and join along.
It’s called 5 Square Breathing because we are going to take one breath and make it last 20 seconds. We will divide the breath into four segments (square) so each segment will last 5 seconds.
count it out in your minD
- Inhale to 100% lung capacity for 5,4,3,2,1.
- Hold it full for 5,4,3,2,1.
- Exhale to 0% lung capacity for 5,4,3,2,1.
- Hold yourself empty for 5,4,3,2,1.
- Repeat this for at least 3 minutes.
It takes several rounds for your mind to trust that the next inhale is coming, but that’s where the magic happens. This process turns on the relaxation response in our minds. After 3-4 rounds, the power of observation begins to intensify. Our subtle surroundings become more visceral. The still small voice becomes louder. Our powerful intuition becomes a major player in our decisions. The benefits are real and the ripple effect is endless. Bless your mind with a journey into the present moment. It’s definitely worth the trip!