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The power of breath

I'm taking a story-telling workshop with two wonderful teachers (links are embedded in their names -- check them out, take a class, join a workshop), and today each one of them offered the class a powerful technique incorporating the breath that I want to pass on to you (or remind you of, as the case may be).

The first one is a meditation. Now, if you think you can't meditate or that you need someone to guide you, or it takes too long, or it doesn't work, or you don't know how...stop. And just take a breath. In. And out. There. Just like that; now do it again -- in, relax, and out, let go. There. That's it. You're doing it. In. Out. Like waves, gently lapping at the shore. Without effort. Just noticing the in, noticing the out. At whatever pace works for you, no attention elsewhere, just here in this moment, in. And out.

Now in our workshop, we had been discussing our favorite fairy tales, myths, stories, movies. It had been a lively discussion and we were going to write about one that stood out for us and let that be a writing prompt. But we'd been so active in our back and forth about the techniques of storytelling and the questions we posed to deepen our understanding that we realized we were all in our heads. So, to slow down and tap into a more creative flow of mind, we stopped. And our teacher, Beth, led us in a breathing meditation. Five minutes, tops! But what a help that was. To stop, to breathe, to allow, to focus on the place and the moment. So valuable. You can do this too. Honestly, take five minutes for yourself. And breathe.

The second one was a practice contrasting a closed standing body posture (shoulders hunched, head bent forward, knees locked) with a "power" posture. Picture Wonder Woman or Superman: Gently fisted hands resting on the hips, chin up, springy legs, shoulders straight, heart forward. Our teacher, Kerry, demonstrated. Our challenge was to tell three things about ourselves, two truths, one lie, and see the affect of the different postures. It's obvious that the power posture is going to be better, but did you know that assuming the power pose can actually change your physiology? You certainly can breathe better in that stance, so that's part of it. Hey, the next time you have to face a challenge, go off for two minutes before hand and stand in the power pose. You'll up your advantage ratio.

Your breath is one of the most powerful healers in your toolkit. It's always with you. It's free. As the Good Witch Glinda reminded Dorothy in the movie, "You've always had the power within you. You just had to learn it for yourself."

Don't underestimate the power within. And breathe.

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