Life has been chaotic lately. Very chaotic. It's difficult to remember the last time I felt I had more than a minute between tasks. I'm constantly running, chasing some deadline or striving to meet the high expectations of either myself or others. It's exhausting to say the least. I try to cope, but when stress boils over the brim of my pot, I find my thoughts racing, my heart pounding, my palms sweaty and my emotions running wild. Stress, deadlines and expectations have always been my nemesis.
Until I started practicing the art of deep breathing.
When I began practicing yoga, I didn't quite understand all that breathing talk. I was enjoying the poses, feeling the release they were bringing me physically, but I couldn't help but think there was something missing. I would consistently get a case of tense jaw whenever we practiced corpse pose. My mind would then concentrate on this feeling and it would end up distracting my otherwise open mind. Shavasana, a pose I get so much rejuvenation from, was being tainted by my damn jaw! One yoga class, I had taken up the pose and the instructor (a lively, vivacious woman) was guiding us through a beautiful meditation. My mind was racing and I couldn't concentrate. BAM - tense jaw. I must have been fidgeting or squirming, giving off the obvious impression that I was not relaxed, because she gravitated towards me and gently placed her two thumbs on my temples. Her meditation immediately began drawing our conscious into our breath and with her thumbs resting on my temples I strived to refocus my thoughts on respiration. After a few moments, I entered a state of relaxation. All the clutter in my mind was temporarily hushed as I envisioned my inhale filling my body with fresh oxygen; new life. Breathing makes all the difference. In yoga and in the everyday.
Since that lesson, cases of tense jaw have drastically decreased. Until lately.
I've been noticing this happening more often in the last couple of weeks. I ration my tense jaw is trying to tell me something. Namely, slow down and breathe. With so much stress surrounding me, it's been hard to root myself in the present. Stress is often invoked by some future worry or threat and with my mind full of potential what-ifs, it's clear that stress is getting the best of me.
Thanks to my tense jaw, I became aware of all this a few days ago. And since then I've vowed to concentrate more whole heartedly on my breathing. In the midst of writing papers, work, hosting three recitals in one week and preparing for two out of province adventures this month, I have taken the time to stop and breathe deeply. In taking that time to inhale good vibes and exhale stress and worry, I feel present and able to face life's challenges with enthusiasm and realism. I am me and however I tackle a task is how that task should be tackled. No need to stress or become overwhelmed, no need for my jaw to tense up, no need for racing thoughts. All is as it should be. I can breathe deeply knowing that.
Breathing is holistic magic.
The honest learnings and raw reflections of my practice and my life. Unedited.