Shut your face and breathe

Things have been difficult around the Rottman abode lately.  Dealing with the mortality of those close to you seems to have this sort of drowning cascade of thoughts and emotions that can really stop you in your tracks.  There's a lot of big things on Matt's and my platter right now and there are some days we accomplish absolutely nothing, stare at walls, and try to shut out the noise.  Since we can't seem to control all the external factors that are raining down on our heads (I think his head is a lot more soaked than mine), we've been working really hard at trying to process and control what we can and feebly filter out the rest.  Sometimes easier said than done.  There were many-a-night last week where all we did was sit on the couch and talk.  And talk.  And talk.  Unusual for a married couple, right?

This weekend the noise in our heads became too much and Matt did the only thing he could think of... he drove us to the top of a nearby hill and we sat there, overlooking the Antelope Valley.  The entire valley.  For a few hours.  It was a beautiful day.  The sun was out.  There was no wind, which is a blessing for an AV spring day.  And it was peaceful.  Birds were chirping.  Fish were splashing around in the California aqueduct.  And every so often we'd hear the heavy panting of an overachieving athlete that had just run or biked up the hill.

It was that heavy breathing that made me think back to my jade stone massage therapy class... and how before each and every class, my teacher would lead us through five minutes of breathing exercises.  It was amazing how the entire mood of the room would change.  How the energy shift would transition us from a tense ball of hyper commuters to a serene team of massage therapists ready to get their flow going with some hot stones.

I tapped back into those minutes of relaxation.  Of focusing on nothing else but my own breath.  I am now going to share with you my instructor's matrix of breathing exercises.  When life becomes too overwhelming and your shoulders are tensed up next to your ears... Find a quiet place.  Sit somewhere comfortable.  Close your eyes.  And start to breathe.  With intention...

8 counts 2 counts stimulates
6 counts 3 counts
3 counts 3 counts balances
4 counts 4 counts
3 counts 6 counts relaxes
2 counts 8 counts
I usually hang out in the 3 breaths in, 6 breaths out range... I fall asleep after two rounds of 2 deep breaths in, 8 slow breaths out.  See?  It really is relaxing.  I know breathing doesn't solve everything, but it helps to realize that not everything is impossible in that moment.  If you're interested in the importance, the science, the benefits, etc about deep breath and the impact on the body - talk to a Yogi or even your favorite massage therapist (ahem).  

I'll leave you with the words of one of my favorite massage therapists:  while I was yammering away in the middle of a deep tissue massage, she kindly leaned in and told me "Just shut your face.  And breathe."  Thanks, Bren Bren.  You're right.

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