Monday Musings Part Ten: First, Breathe

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First, Breathe


Last week, in Monday Musings Nine, we looked at grounding ourselves and using quiet reflection. Right up there in importance to our wellbeing is something we do every day without giving it even one thought, never mind a second or third—breathing. For most of us, only when we have difficulty sucking in air do we even notice this vital function.

Yet, the way we breathe tells us so much about our mental and emotional state. It also goes a long way in dictating those states.

If you focus on your breaths, you will notice that when you’re upset or stressed or angry, your breathing comes shorter and faster and shallower. This in turn, causes chain reactions in the body, including releasing endorphins ready for a fight or flight response. Your heart rate will also increase, and your mind will race. Either that, or go blank.

The simple act of taking a long, slow, and deep breath calms you down instantly. It has a positive impact on both your body and your mind.

Any time you feel angry, annoyed, stressed, upset, afraid, in deep pain, etc. …






These three simple steps will help you to hit the reset button. And, once you’ve managed that, you can manage whatever situation you find yourself in.

Whenever I heard words like the above, I used to get into an argument and say things like, ‘Yeah, but what if something really horrific is happening to you?’ Life taught me a valuable lesson, and my answer now is, ‘That’s the very time your life depends on keeping on breathing.’

When I lost my leg, I remember lying in the hospital bed after a lot of hours in surgery. I had a central line due to being too poorly for normal venous access for IVs. I had blood transfusions galore. Put plainly, I was one sick puppy. The surgeon came to see me later that morning and said, ‘I’ve seen people in better shape physically but worse shape mentally.’ I don’t know of any higher praise he could have given me on how well I coped with the whole thing.

The only way I got through it was not to overthink it. And not to worry about what tomorrow might bring, if I even lived that long. The injury and my physical state demanded that I stop. So, what else could I do but breathe? And, if I’m doing that, then why not relax? Why make it so much worse by panicking and fighting and denying?Zen Stones for Monday Musings

Taking time to just breathe (and plant your feet, like the Mighty Oak in Musings Part Nine) brings the best results. What all of us need are space and clarity—air to breathe.

Amidst the medical hustle and bustle, I grounded myself by feeling the firm mattress beneath me, every single millimetre of it. This took focus, which took slow and deep breathing. This helped to clear my mind and settle my panic; a difficult feat considering the many and varied aggressive drugs they pumped into my veins at the time. All I knew was that I couldn’t go back and tie up all the loose threads I thought I’d left behind. All I knew was that I could only lie there, stuck in that bed, having things done to me.

The ability to surrender, to just breathe, saved my life and my sanity.

So, before you do anything, just stop and take a breath. Give yourself the space you need.

In the wise words of Zen:

‘Stay with your breath and see where it takes you.’

If you’ve missed my previous Monday Musings, you can find the links here: 🙂