Modern Western society has risen and thrived around the idea of “doing” and “accomplishing”. Those of us who have grown up inside this paradigm are always looking to the next thing we are going achieve. Reflecting upon the Law of Accelerating Returns we look back on human history and can see the pattern of our achievements in which we are now approaching the “knee of the theoretical curve”. However, like the rhythms in everything that is a part of our world, we must consider the curves within the curve. The constant dance between light and darkness and the natural cycles that are driven by it.
Many of humankind’s greatest minds found their inspiration not by “doing” but by “being”. By allowing inspiration to come, these moments of genius have brought creative and profound change to our species from the beginning of time. Think back on your life to those times that we have all had. When you sunk into a single moment with a sudden certainty and understanding that wasn’t there the moment before. These times often come when we allow ourselves to open up and “be”, if only for a tiny second.
For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, we are approaching the winter solstice, the darkest time of the year. Think about what is happening to everything else on this part of the Earth. Everything is going inside itself, slowing down, resting more. It’s a time of regeneration. There is darkness, silence and solitude. In Traditional Chinese yin-yang theory we are approaching the most yin time of year. Like the trees that put all their resources in the ground to be able to bloom again in the spring, we have the same opportunity with our bodies and with our minds.
How do we allow some of the stillness to enter our lives so we can make room in ourselves for new inspiration? One way is through respiration. When we focus on our breath we bring ourselves back to the very fundamental rhythms that encompass all of nature which we are a part of.
Below are several simple, effective breathing and meditation exercises that help you to tap into the parts of yourself that can bring about inspiration.
For those of you who have taken up residence with your PC or Mac there is a great meditation and napping program called Pzizz.
Any amount of breathing or meditation exercise can be life-changing. Like anything the more you practice the easier it becomes. When you start out it can often takes several minutes for the mind to calm down enough to become present. For some people it takes several sessions. It is recommended that you allow yourself at least twenty minutes or the amount of time it takes for you to notice a shift in the activity of your mind. You will absolutely know when you achieve this. For anyone who finds it very difficult to focus on your breath, you might consider simply doing nothing for a few minutes per day.
Exercise 1: First, sit or lie comfortably with your eyes closed. Inhale deeply through your nose intoyour upper chest. Exhale somewhat forcefully through your mouth. Try to focus completely on the process of breathing. Repeat this part 10-15 times.
Second, inhale and exhale slowly through your nose into your lower abdomen (the area below your naval). As you do this, allow your tummy to naturally rise and fall.
Exercise 2: This one is a little more challenging but with practice you can gain a new appreciation and understanding for your body. Sit or lie comfortably with your eyes closed. Take a few deep breaths to get centered and relaxed. Exhale deeply and allow your body to inhale on its own. Practice allowing your body to breathe on its own, as if you are an observer, watching a child breathe as it sleeps. The more you practice this, the more you will relinquish your need to feel the illusion of control. Enjoy!
Exercise 3: This meditation is a little more active and can be helpful if you find that you have difficulty focusing on your breath. It has the additional benefit of activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This part of the nervous system is normally active if we are calm. It brings circulation to the digestive system, promotes relaxation, calms the mind and enables sexual function. It also enhances healthy weight loss in the abdominal area, balances neurotransmitters and promotes cleansing of the intestines. It’s exceptionally helpful for people with chronic constipation.
Instructions: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent. Place your hands on the lower abdomen below the naval bringing your attention to this area. Breathing naturally while exhaling, pull the lower abdomen in, imagining that you are trying to touch your naval to your spine. Then, exhaling, press the abdomen out as far as you can. Repeat 50-200 times. The repetitions can be done fairly quickly averaging about 1 every 3-4 seconds. You can also do this exercise while driving or lying down.
*Note: The first few times you do this exercise you may experience more gas and more frequent bowel movements. This is a very good sign and should resolve after a couple of days.by