BREATH OF LIFE
I teach a series of relaxation classes to cancer survivors which assist them in finding some peace amidst the chaos. I begin by telling them that anxiety, depression and insomnia can be quite common after one has been told they have cancer. There is usually a big sigh of relief in the room. “I thought there was something wrong with me,” is a typical response and I reaffirm that is not the case at all.
I invite the group to learn new techniques which will decrease stress and tension and help them feel better emotionally, physically and mentally. Results can be felt immediately and there are no side effects what so ever!!!! Everyone is always eager to begin.
The breath is what brings vital oxygen to every cell in the body. “Breathing in gives life. Breathing out brings cleansing.”(Carolyn Kortege-Author of Spirited Walker) Your breath is what connects your body to your spirit. Quite amazing indeed!!!
I invite the group to close their eyes and go within. We relax our body parts beginning at our feet and work our way up to our heads. I share with my students that we store so much tension in our shoulders and necks and even our jaws. After a few simple breaths shoulders have dropped significantly and even mouths have unclenched. It’s very cool to see!
We then focus on the belly and I ask the group to imagine on the inbreathe that they are inflating a balloon that sits in their abdomen. “Watch your balloon get bigger and bigger,” I say, ” as their bellies rise, “and then on the outbreathe, allow your balloon to deflate as your belly becomes soft and supple. If thoughts come in, which they will, allow them to pass, and focus on your breath once again.” We do this exercise for a minute or two and then gently open our eyes and come back into the room.
I ask for feedback and receive responses such as: “I felt so calm. My hands got tingly. My feet felt warm. I felt safe. I felt loved. I felt a sense of control.” The responses are as unique as the magnificent attendees and everyone’s experience is their own.
Once comfortable with this process I encourage them to increase to 5, 10 even 15 minutes once or twice a day. It’s a great way to begin and end the day, especially before bedtime. Get’s you nice and relaxed and ready for a great night’s sleep. It’s like having a cup of warm milk and honey!!!!
Breathework can help decrease blood pressure, heart and respiratory rate. It is also beneficial for stress, sleep and digestive issues and alleviation of PAIN. Best part about these exercises is that you can do them anywhere and anytime.
Sitting in the oncology office for an appointment or waiting for my radiation, I used these techniques. If I felt anxious about an upcoming meeting with a doctor or a test I used them too. I found them to be so calming and helpful in quieting the “mind” which was quite active at times. ” Information overload,” I liked to call it. Finding a few moments of peace and quiet was such a gift. Sometimes going within helped me in my decision process too. In the beginning of your cancer journey you have lots of decisions to make regarding your health. This tool can be very beneficial.
You can incorporate color, mantras, numbers and so many other handy tools with your breathework. Best of all, make it your own. Let it send ripples of warmth and healing throughout your body.
Dr. Herbert Benson, a pioneer in mind/body medicine created the “Relaxation Response” and it is another great method to counteract the stress in our lives. Simple and easy, yet it works.
So I invite you to stop and listen to the gentle, soft rhythm of your breath. That breath that brought you into this world!!! That breath that touches your soul and soothes your mind. Listen to that quiet music within where all your answers reside.
Breathe in life and let go of what no longer serves YOU…….