Breathing ... As a way of life

Airports. Security. Delays. Layovers.  Those words are common with the travel experience for many.  Most people I talk to are not a fan of the jet-set lifestyle.  I’m one of the strange ones – I enjoy flying.  I can sit there and do absolutely nothing. No phone calls or surfing the net. No urgent matter to take care of.  It has always been an invitation to practice mindfulness.  I love the peace that airplane travel can (yes, can) bring.

On a recent airplane adventure, my plane was 30 minutes delayed leaving the airport.  I had a very quick turnout time to catch my next flight.  My mind went into “What If” mode … “What if I miss my flight – I’ll have a 10 hour wait until the next one – then I’ll miss my next connecting flight – this could be an epic disaster!” I went into stress mode - my body became tense and my breath shallow.  This traveling adventure had a moment of feeling anything but peaceful. 

Here’s the thing, I can’t control what happens in life BUT I’m in charge of how I respond to life.  So, took some time to created peace in my body.  Here’s what I did:  I took full breaths into my body and inhaled to 5, paused, exhaled to 5; I listened to “Flying” by Garth Stevenson (shameless plug, his album is soothing and perfect for any yoga class).  Within minutes, I was calm and relaxed.  Seriously, breathing and calming music is one of the best ways to beat stress!   

When we landed, my next flight was already boarding and, of course, I’m at the back of the plane.  My usual response would be:

·     Become extremely stressed out

·     Curse others under my breath for “being in the way” (no one ever said therapists and yogi’s are calm all the time)

·     Run to the gate like a mad woman

With my mindfulness practice infused in my body, I patiently waited to deplane and walked to where my next plane waited.  First time that ever happened.  I surprised myself at how calm I was. 

Lesson of the day: slow down your breath, play soothing music.  This can be your best friend the next time stress comes to visit.

 

 

Word of the Day

Love learning new words? Here’s a new word for you: psychoneuroimmunology.  Up until last year, I never heard the word.  Let’s break it down.  Psycho = Psychology.   Neuro = Neuroscience.  Immunology = the study of the immune system.  Put it together and you get “the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body.”[1] 

Several years ago, I came down with a cold every 4-6 weeks for the better part of a year. I went to see several doctors and no solutions.  Then I made a "epic - huge - change my life forever" kind of decision and it was many months before I was sick again.  Interesting.  A mentor of mine thought I was consistently sick was from all the stress I was under before making that decision.  Sick from stress? I smiled but thought that was a crazy idea.  

Now, research is proving her right.  There are many studies showing that “stressful life experiences can influence the activity of the immune system, which is known to play a critical role in the body’s defense … against cancer and infections.”[2]

Want to help your body (and mind) to stay healthy? Let this be an invitation write “decrease stress” at the top of your daily “to do” list.  It could be exercise, meditation, laughter … whatever brings ease and joy (and health!) in your body.   Seriously, write it out and check it off your list.

Ready to geek it up and arm yourself with a stack of research articles on the topic?  Check out The Stress and Health Research Program at the Ohio State University Medical Center: http://pni.osumc.edu/publications.html

Warmly, Ashley

“Supporting you to create your most meaningful life.”

 

 

 

[1] Psychoneuroimmunology. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2015 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychoneuroimmunology

[2] Kabit-Zinn, J. (2013). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness (2nd ed.). United States: Bantam Books.