The Square Breath Meditation

Breathe deeply, until sweet air extinguishes the burn of fear in your lungs and every breath is a beautiful refusal to become anything less than infinite.

– D. Antoinette Foy

Breathing through the nostrils…

Inhale for 3 counts as you visualize moving up the left side of a square.

Suspend the breath at the top of the inhale (w/o clenching your throat shut) for 3 counts as you visualize moving from the left to the right top of the square.

Exhale for 3 counts as you visualize moving down the right side of the square.

Suspend the breath at the bottom of the exhale for 3 counts as you visualize moving from the right to the left bottom of the square.

Repeat several times or longer. Enjoy!

When the breath is unsteady, all is unsteady; when the breath is still; all is still. Control the breath carefully. Inhalation gives strength and a controlled body; retention gives steadiness of mind and longevity; exhalation purifies body and spirit.

– Goraksasathakam

Keeping a schedule

As we keep our social distance and self-quarantine, a schedule for each member of the family is important.

It’s not about staying “productive,” or getting all of the projects done that you’ve wanted to get done. It’s about not losing your mind. Our basic human nature is to want to have meaning in our lives, and binging on Netflix and social media depletes us of that. It’s the ultimate junk food, and we all know how we feel when we binge on junk food. Not only will you lose your mind, you will definitely lose tolerance for those few people around you. Kids home from school: the same thing.

Feed your soul in the morning. If you aren’t used to scheduling this into your life, you will definitely have tantrums getting started. Do it. See my previous blog. Get fresh air. My doctor once told me, get outside whenever the sun is out, no matter the temperature. Quarantining does not necessarily mean we can’t get sun and fresh air.

I haven’t been to the grocery store this week, but last week was like the apocalypse, as we’ve all witnessed. The frozen sections were wiped out and there was an abundance of options in the fresh produce section. This is the time to load up on fresh fruits and vegetables; they have life force, they are alkaline, immune boosting, healing. They will give you the kind of energy that doesn’t cause you to feel stuck, heavy, dull, and lethargic. Instead, because they are filled with life force, if you don’t heavy them up with cream cause and the like, they will offer energy that one might associate with the sun’s energy and light. Spices – a little bit of salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, turmeric, fennel, cayenne, etc – are excellent digestives, and they flavor food nicely. Add a little Bragg’s amino acid and/ or nutritional yeast, and you’ve got something good. Let each member of the family decide what they want in their food to please their taste buds.

Once you’ve fed your soul sufficiently – it’s not about the length of time; it’s that you didn’t just go through the motions ‘meditating’ for 10 minutes; you’ll feel it when you’ve done it – the rest of your day becomes more celebratory. You’ll see what I mean.

Setting the tone for the day

Start the morning early.
Drink warm water (good for elimination and hydration).
Go to the bathroom. Take care of your hygiene.
Refrain from going to your inbox and turning on the news.
Drink warm water (you could add lemon, it’s a good alkalizer).
Meditate. Move and stretch the body.
Drink warm water (good for digestion).
Journal. Read something inspiring that opens the mind. Contemplate. Get your expressive juices flowing.
Have a light breakfast. Juice, make a smoothie, have some consommé or oatmeal.
When you start your day with warm water, meditation, movement, and self-expression, you may find it easier to hold off on coffee.
Get one important thing done that isn’t in reaction or response to someone else first thing in the morning (say I’ll get to it later). For some of you, this may have to do with your finances, for others, writing, and for others, look to what’s on our desk that you’ve put off.

Drink warm water.
Go to your inbox. Whatever you do from here is okay.
Because you’ve started the day with self-care, what you do the rest of your day won’t feel as disruptive to your soul. It won’t feel as frustrating.

Keep the following in mind to stay anchored:

Have lunch at lunchtime.
Think about someone else (self-care brings forth service w/o depletion).
Connect with peers or a mentor (don’t isolate).
Enjoy an early dinner.
Review your schedule for the following day just before you start your bedtime routine.
Get to bed relatively early.
Don’t let the phone put you to sleep. You might try focusing on long deep breathing instead.

The blessings in a pandemic

While we are social distancing, it’s essential to stay connected, it’s part of maintaining a strong immune system. In doing so, we get to sharpen our discernment on the who, how, when, and where.

We get a chance to sidestep fear and get into the stuff we’ve been wanting to do, or to start learning how to do things differently. We don’t have to take time off to do this; the entire world is there. Our minds get to expand into creative territory, and shirking this off as a luxury we don’t have time for holds less true. As long as we are here, what about if we learn how to use technology as a creative tool rather than a time waster, and get to know our families differently since we aren’t running from one activity to the next?

In all of our busy-ness, we’ve been running ourselves into isolation and disconnect, which is the irony, because this is what we think is being forced on us now. It’s as if the Universe has given us an opportunity to go within, learn to reconnect, and learn to find new ways to do what we are doing, allowing us to see what was important in the first place, and what really is now. We get to discern when it is important to meet in person, and when we need to rest and incubate because we are feeling a little run down instead of ignoring those symptoms as we have in the past. And after all of the chaotic grocery shopping that we’ve witnessed, we get to learn how to think of others: did you know that if an item has a “WIC” next to the price on the grocery shelf label, those are what Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children recipients can purchase? If those items run out, they can’t simply pick a replacement item without those letters. According to Wikipedia, basic eligibility requirement is a family income below 185% of the federal poverty level, and WIC serves 53% of all infants. Will you grab those from the shelves?

We get to figure out how to take care of ourselves while we take care of others. It’s a moment in time, one we never would have wished for, but one we can take advantage of now that we are here. Instead of spiraling into fear, we have an opportunity to find and make the changes that we’ve been searching for.

When it gets overwhelming.

It always seems impossible until it’s done.

Nelson Mandela

Acknowledging the obstacles seem appropriate: to take a moment to look at them, clearly they want attention. They are there to tell us what we are afraid of, what we are here to move through. I find it comforting to know that and to acknowledge them with some love and respect rather than to dwell in the dramatic pause they cause otherwise. The point then, for me, is to move through or around them systematically, unreactively, and impersonally. Like a stream, unhindered, rushing through the rocks that blocks its course.

Practicing mental fluidity

The coronavirus had made life surreal. It has become challenging to plan our days as usual as we tune in to all of the announcements from day to day to see what’s happening and what’s being cancelled.

In my own life, I have a yoga studio and our community to consider. My daughter is in a theatre conservatory, and her senior grade has been putting their soul into their work for several years now to show their creative brilliance in May, and now everyone is being sent home to finish out the year remotely; all performances are canceled (heartbreaking for us). My son’s high school is going remote for a month. My niece’s hockey nationals are cancelled. School concerts and sports seasons are cancelled. Daily schedules are changing, people are working from home, and we are all working to figure out how to do things differently. There is also concern for how this will impact people’s finances and the economic impact of small and local businesses.*

While I understand that this is something we are all going through together globally, I took some time yesterday to fully grieve our personal losses.

We need to take care of ourselves and of each other, and part of this is tuning in to ourselves and to each other (rather than to the panic).

I’m staying hydrated, and I am looking to alkalize my diet more. I’m working closely with those around me to make sure we are making decisions more responsively than reactively, and also, it’s helpful to keep talking (versus commiserating) with each other to stay out of the downward spiral that tends to happen when we keep to oneselves with only the news channels for company.

It feels like a good time to see where the opportunities are to take care of ourselves, get closer while we distance ourselves, and embrace the creative aspect finding new ways to be, to work, and to connect.

*many live performance venues and classes in the arts and wellness are being cancelled in response to the Corona virus. If you are able to do so, please seriously consider treating your payment as a donation to the business. The high level of refunds issued can literally break a business.

Finding Within

With social media and news available 24/7, it’s that much harder to find space.

Space, and time – to be bored, or to figure out what to do next, or to find our thoughts while we are standing in line somewhere, or to feel our discomfort standing in the elevator with others- has been sabotaged by the call from the little black screen; with one swipe of our finger, we forgo our moments to tune in to ourselves to know how we truly feel. Instead, our feelings have become chain reactive.

This can have devastating results in our lives. When things get commotional, the more we lean into that screen, the more we get lost in the devastation.

Step back. You yourself are more connected to a broader, more intelligent view of things. Your Self has the discernment, knows the boundaries, and is filled with compassion and empathy. Your Being has a mind that knows what to do when you stop looking outside for a moment.

Look out to tap into the pain, not the drama. Look out to hold that space for others, and in that way, you throw them a lifeline rather than throw yourself into the pool along with them. Look out to understand the fear, to be the lighthouse and harness what’s hiding in the commotion that can bring us all together.

In order to do that, we must first find Within. That space makes it possible.