Just Breathe

These days I am utilizing my breathing a lot.

For many years I have been using my exhalation as a way of letting go.  “Letting go” can be such a difficult thing to do – letting go of emotions, reactions, pain, people, the past – so hard!  It seems that when we are deep in the thick of those feelings, if someone tells us, “Just let it go,” then what we are actually apt to do is to hold on more tightly!  Struggling with attachment is normal, that’s why I often recommend to my students to instead try to breathe out.  Breathing out itself is an act of letting go.  Just breathe out a long gentle exhale through the mouth, and continue to do so until your mind returns to stillness.

And nowadays, I have become very interested in my inhale.  I don’t mean a huge, strained, gasping-for-air inhale.  I simply mean that when difficult thoughts, emotions, feelings and situations are taking place in life, I try to actually breathe in to them.  I have discovered that if breathing out is an act of letting go, then breathing in is an act of ACCEPTANCE.  Breathe in and lean into the feeling. Don’t fight it, don’t judge it, don’t blame it, don’t hate it and DON’T try to run away from it!  Just breathe in and fully try to feel it. Feel it 100% – no matter what it is.  I know that this is not easy, but when you can truly do it, you find that the feeling begins to dissolve like mist in the morning sun.  It’s a great exercise for keeping you present and facing your issues, instead of hiding from them because, as we all know, they only get worse and manifest in more ugly ways later on.

Also, it’s not easy to “accept” our pain.  If you are in the middle of deep heartache or struggle and someone says, “Just try to accept,” then you may have a knee-jerk reaction to reject that idea altogether.  You might think, “If I could accept, I would!!”  That’s why, I want to say, don’t try to consciously accept.  It is highly likely that your ego will not let you get off that easily 🙂 . Instead, just try to breathe.  Breathe in and completely feel the feeling.  Embrace it.  Lean into it.  That is your way of naturally telling it, “Ok, I allow myself to feel you.” And this leads naturally to a sense of acceptance.  When we feel the feeling of acceptance in our bodies, it is extraordinarily calming and healing.  It comes with a wonderful sense of peace.

This breathing exercise has been a great way for me to practice shifting my perspective and having a new experience with all of my moments.  The so-called bad moments, and the so-called good ones as well.  I breathe in and feel the feeling of the moment completely.  I enjoy the sensation of feeling all of me.  And it seems to me that my body loves to receive this attention from me! My energy gathers, and as I continue with it, I begin to feel full and bright.  Then, as I breathe out, I gently relax.  Through relaxing, I let all of the feelings be as they are, and a letting go of all of my reactions to my feelings takes place automatically.

Is this easy to do?  No. Absolutely not.  It requires constant practice.  Do I forget often?  Of course.  And then I remind myself and begin again and again and again.  Isn’t this what life is all about?  Try, try again, practice, stumble, fall down, get up, try, try again, get better, and breathe your way through it all!  That’s the best news: There’s nothing that you CANNOT breathe into!  It’s a wonderful tool for your self-healing tool bag.  Give it a try 🙂

6 Thoughts.

  1. Hi Danielle,
    Thank you so much for your very helpful advice!
    After having a cold, I have been coughing for more than six weeks now and I think it’s related to feelings of stress and fear influencing my breathing. Probably caused by the huge amount of resistance I’m feeling towards a certain situation, which I’m about to solve by the way, so there’s light at the end of the tunnel 🙂 .
    What you are writing, feels like something that could really work for me, so I’m going to try and breath this way.
    It’s good to read how persistent you are in doing this yourself, even when (especially when) it’s difficult sometimes. Thank you!
    Blessings, Manon

  2. You are soooo disciplined Danielle. I have been for a long time sometimes doing the Tibetan Buddhist meditation/breathing practice called “tonglen”. It sounds very similar to what you are describing. Have you heard of tonglen? Am going to try your version; some subtle differences. ” One by one, day by day, inhale, exhale, that’s the way!”

    • Thank you Charlene ~ yes, you are right, I can be extremely disciplined when I choose to be 🙂 I have not heard of “tonglen”. Enjoy your breathing practice! I like your little poetic quote 🙂

  3. Thank you for your post, Danielle, I have been following your idea to inhale acceptance ( in my head I tell myself to exhale resistance) – you’re advice, as ever, has been very helpful ☺ I appreciate it, and I hope you’re well x

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