There are a lot of great perks that come with my job. Recently I discovered a new one that I’m particularly thankful for. We are allowed to expense subscriptions to mindfulness apps. I’ve dabbled in them in the past, signing up for trials, but never took them too seriously. Recently, however, I’ve been embracing the forced quietness and guided breathing. It’s both energizing and calming at the same time. And healing.

just breathe GIF by chescaleigh

Since hurting my back in 2018, I’ve been having increasing discomfort as I work and travel. Initially I wrote it off as sciatica, and it might be to a certain extent, but physical therapy opened my eyes to poor habits which led to more pain. I stand wrong when working. I am losing core strength. My flexibility has somehow disappeared. Stress manifests itself in physical discomfort.

With these realizations, I started stretching, focusing on my core and learning to breathe through tougher situations. I feel my body and focus on relaxing during mindfulness sessions. The more I do so, the more I’m reminded to do this throughout the day, even when I’m not in a session.

While on a recent trip, I realized I could sit for many hours without pain. Even half a year ago stabbing pain shot down my leg and two toes numbed after only an hour in the car. Not anymore.

The upper back pain I’ve felt for years is now suddenly gone as well. Or maybe not so suddenly. I just suddenly noticed it.

Now that we have the perk, I’m exploring the app choices we have so I can continue on this healing path. After narrowing it down to Calm and Headspace I am settling on Calm. They are both very cool in different ways so I might switch off in the future. The good news is that I can decide month-to-month.

One of my favorite parts of Calm is the choice of nature sounds I can listen to while falling asleep. Relaxing with a book is another option. The app also comes with bedtime stories. I’ve listened to books while falling asleep, but these are narrated by people who deliberately use soothing tones. I’m getting all relaxed just thinking about it.

One can also choose what type of meditation is best each time. When I’m cranky, I can meditate focusing on gratitude. Or I can focus on forgiveness when feeling wronged. There are even sessions for breaking habits and focusing on mindful eating. Amazing.

The time of meditation focuses me and reminds me of how marvelous the gift of life is. It reminds me of my own insignificance and of the importance of learning to become a better human. It is my goal that by taking a step back to breathe and focus I will be able to manifest a statement from the Bible.

My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart [shall be] of understanding.

Psalm 49:3 (The Message)

Reflections on Breathing

Breathing. One of those super-simple things that is hard to do. But, oh, the clarity it brings. I am truly relaxing for the first time in a super long time, and I am able to focus on breath and thought. It’s actually kinda hard — some of the things I have time to think about now are things I don’t really want to face. But I know it’s good in the long run.

Inhala exhala

~Jane the Virgin

I did a lot of inhaling and exhaling as I attended a keynote and additional session with Millana Snow at our recent Grand Meetup. During the sessions we did deep breaths normally then made the breaths even deeper by basically inhaling past the inhale then exhaling. I relaxed.

Getting ready for our Deep Breathing session.
Getting ready for our Deep Breathing session. Phones away shortly.

I saw colors moving in odd yet interesting forms. My senses were heightened. (It’s interesting to do a deep inhalation session with 800+ of your colleagues who all stay in the same hotel. Quite a whiff of the hotel shampoo. Good thing I liked it.) I felt parts of my body I had forgotten existed. And I created and sorted.

Conversations danced through my head, nudging the question “What if” to the forefront of my brain. And you writers out there know this: a decent “What if” is always followed by a good story. Am I right?

Stories swirled, and my mind whirled, and I stood up thinking about the world differently.

I believe in energies, but I don’t think in this particular instance the breathing and energy were the key components to advancement. Testing will occur in my future, I’m sure, but at this point, my thought is that the growth and insight that came to me in that time were results of simply allowing myself to relax, while awake, for a session focused on mental freedom.

I can do this from home. I just need to remember how effective the outcome is. This is a very good lesson, and something I should take the time to do throughout the year. Lie down for 60-90 minutes and simply breathe. Nice, deep breaths. Let time, obligations and phone notifications rest in an alternate reality for the hour-and-a-half. The world will keep rotating, astonishingly. At the other end, life is a bit more clear.

It all reminds me of how I have felt in the past in regard to Bible study and prayer time (basically the same meditation I refer to above). I know I’m solid in the God-arena so it’s easy it push off that quiet time, especially when I’m busy and tired. But when I don’t take time to step back and breathe my life starts falling apart. Work gets overwhelming, relationships become strained, etc. The busyness of my reality takes over in a very non-healthy manner.

However, if I take the time to study, consciously breathe and pray, somehow things always seem to fall in place. So why is it so easy to have that slip? I’m not sure I will ever figure that out.

Breathe in

Breathe Out

Pray in

Pray out

Oh look, almost a reflection 🙂