Sunday, February 18, 2018

Mindful Balance and Breathing

Melissa’s Mindful Moments

Mindful Balance and Breathing

Melissa Ann Roush, LPC-Intern

Supervised by Katrena Hart, LPC-S

If you read my blog, I would like to apologize for my absence during the past couple of months. Between the holidays and today, I have been struggling to find ways to balance work and family responsibilities. Sound familiar?

I recently recognized that many of the things I preach and teach had been left behind in my own life. Self care practices such as exercise, meditation, clean eating, reading, bubble baths, and time with friends had taken a backseat as I learned to navigate new positions and challenges as a LPC-Intern and a newly-wed with a blended family. The joys of both my family and my work far outweigh the struggles that come with the territory, however- (there are always ‘howevers’ in this dance, aren’t there?)…

However, there are struggles and being a mindfulness practitioner and counselor, I know the importance of 1) Acknowledging that sometimes it is challenging to find balance and 2) Accepting that sometimes balance is found by accepting temporary imbalance as we recalibrate. Unfortunately, I neglected myself and my needs trying to be perfectly balanced during the learning process. This is and was a recipe for anxiety. However, I would not allow myself to “go there” so I shut myself down emotionally first, and then physically; another bad recipe.

The good news is that I have recognized that I cannot do balance perfectly. God knows I try. I even chose to get married last year on the Spring Equinox to honor the balance principle I hold so dear. I see the world in a constant state of balance and flux- Life/death; light/dark; creative action/letting go; yin/yang; wholeness. However, there are times when I do feel pulled in many directions and fall into a state of imbalance- unable to focus on my family while work duties loom over my head and vice/versa.

I have also recognized that it is when I feel anxious imbalance that I most need to stop, acknowledge my experience, and take a mini self- care break to be able to refocus on the present task. When I am able to do this, I am accepting of my limitations as well as current circumstances. There are only so many things I can do, or places I can be, at one time, and sometimes my old frenemies, “guilt” and “anxiety,” show up to pressure me to believe otherwise. I am calling them out on their bully behavior lately and as I do, I also remind myself with compassion that what I am able to do now is “enough” as I continue to tweak schedules or responsibilities. In this way, balance becomes a more mindful, open, present and authentic state of being.

I am slowing bringing my former self-care practices back into my regular routine, but again, I need to take time to slowly recalibrate. For instance, my blogs will be shorter in the future. You may actually find time to read them.

In the meantime, I am sharing with you a mini- self care technique that I utilize and teach my clients. Try it out. Many people tell me it’s the best tool they have for getting back to center and balance in the midst of their own struggles.

Deep Breathing Exercise

Practice this either sitting or lying down. Practice. Practice. Practice. The more you practice, the better you will be able to call on this skill when experiencing anxiety.

Deep breathing comes from the diaphragm. When you practice deep breathing, your abdomen will expand as you take in a breath. Conversely, shallow breathing moves the chest and shoulders. Unfortunately, many people go about their days breathing in a shallow manner. Shallow breathing accelerates during anxiety and panic. The point of practice is to become more aware of your breathing patterns to empower you to get back to a state of calm when anxiety presents itself. When you are more calm you increase your ability to think rationally, problem solve, and respond (rather than react) both emotionally and physically.

You may wish to add a mantra with your breath.

Ex: (In breath)-“I”…. (Out breath) “Am”

*Pay attention to what follows in your mind- (if anything). *Journal

Close your eyes….

1) Place your hand on your abdomen. Breathe normally. Notice the movement of the abdomen when you breathe. Keeping your mouth closed, place the tip of your tongue gently on the upper ridge of your mouth against the back of your upper front teeth. Keeping your mouth closed, relax the lower jaw as though you were about to yawn. Keep your tongue and jaw in position as you begin to breathe.

2) Imagine as you practice, the cleansing breath traveling through your nose and up through the nasal cavity and around the back of your head on the inhale. Then, on the exhale, the cleansing breath travels down the spine, across the pelvic floor and then back up and out the mouth.

3) Inhale from the diaphragm taking a deep cleansing breath in through the nostrils. Count 1 one thousand, 2 one thousand….

4) Hold the breath for 2 counts.

5) Exhale, through the mouth blowing the breath out to the count of 4…(1 one thousand, 2 one thousand, 3 one thousand, 4 one thousand).

6) Push the air out as though you are trying to get your belly button to the back of your spine.

7) Repeat no more than 5 times. Stop when you feel calmer**. Stop if you feel dizzy or lightheaded.

**You may or may not feel entirely calm. However, you should feel calmer. With practice, you may find that deep breathing alone returns you to a state of calm.

***Be compassionate with yourself. Your body senses a threat which is why it goes into fight –or- flight mode. Your body is doing its job in a perceived threat situation. This is why we learn to ground ourselves in the present.


Bridging Harts Institute & Psychotherapy
203 S. Alma St. Suite #300
Allen, TX 75013
T: (972) 562 5002
Email: info@bridgingharts.com


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