Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Where Does Your Silence Live?

When I give Reiki sessions, one of the areas most frequently blocked or restricted in my clients is the throat, or Fifth Chakra. This throat chakra extends from your larynx to your clavicle bones and its energetic or metaphorical meaning has to do with communication, expression, and speaking your truth. No wonder this chakra is so frequently restricted. How often to we hold our feelings and thoughts deep inside, never letting them out to see the light of day? How often do we hold our words in tight because we feel uncertain or unsafe?

In my art blog, Quiet Girl Gallery, I have included a few lines from one of my poems which speaks to this silence. It reads, "Deep in the pit of my throat, they cling to the larynx like barnacles...but tonight when I hear them chattering, I feel a build-up of grief for the lives I haven't let them lead."

What words have remained unuttered for you, locked inside so tightly? What do you feel has remained unexpressed for too long?

Try this: Scan your body. Locate the place in your body where your silence lives. For this exercise, what I mean by silence is the place in your body that is the source of your silencing yourself when you know you should speak up and you don’t. Close your eyes and scan your body until you get a “hit,” a feeling or sensation, and then write from that place about the ways in which you silence yourself. This place could be your throat or somewhere else entirely. Is there a particular moment from the past that comes to mind? Imagine that the place of silence is now allowed to speak. What does it have to tell you?

[Picture credit: Sanatan Society website.]

Friday, August 25, 2006

Deep Belly Breathing

“The brain needs more oxygen under stress…”
—Sharon Promislow, Making the Brain Body Connection

For some reason, I've been breathing quite shallowly lately. Perhaps my stress level has risen a bit these last few days, or perhaps I'm following some old pattern of breathing. When I breathe shallowly, I end up straining my scalene muscles, neck muscles that lift my rib cage during inhalation. I also cannot think as clearly during stress. And, decision-making becomes almost impossible. What helps me? Deep belly breathing.

I learned the following technique from Brain Gym, a system of educational kinesiology developed by Paul and Gail Dennison.

Deep belly breathing involves sitting or lying comfortably with both hands placed gently on my belly. I inhale through my nose, allowing my belly to expand into my hands, and then I exhale through my mouth. By expanding my belly and ribcage fully, I allow for more oxygen to enter my brain-body system. With such full breath, my blood pressure is more apt to lower and my heart rate to decrease. In essence, I am feeding my brain and body oxygen to function properly. And, when I imagine stress leaving my body with each full exhale, I feel more centered and relaxed.

Try this: Place your hands on your stomach and take some deep belly breaths, focusing on the fullness of each breath. Notice how this increase in oxygen makes you feel.

After experiencing the deep belly breathing exercise, continue your focus on your belly. What life has your belly had? Write with focus on your belly, from your belly, about its life. (If you lose focus, place your hands on your stomach and take a few deep breaths again.) What shapes has it taken and what emotions does it hold deep inside? Write about when you’ve sucked it in, causing your breath to feel shallow and tight? Or, write about when it is most relaxed and free.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

When You're Stuck, Move

“When I have a shock, I walk to metabolize it. Walking, seeking only to move and in moving “move” something through, I often come to an entirely different idea.”
—Julia Cameron, The Right to Write

I’m a firm believer in physically moving when I feel mentally “stuck” or stressed. During exercise, not only do I find that my mood increases with the release of endorphins, but my body feels more alive with the increased oxygen intake. I also feel more able to calmly process any problems I seem to be having.

A friend of mine, a high school teacher, described a “walking it off” method many schools are employing to help with student behavior problems. Instead of sitting in an office or in detention, a student may, for example, take a walk around the track with a school counselor. By walking, the troubled student is able to “cool off” and perhaps even process his or her issues while simultaneously physically moving through the problems via walking. I use walking in a similar way, and I find that I often feel a greater sense of clarity after a good walk around the block.

Try this: The next time you feel stuck -- whether mentally stuck on a project or idea or emotionally stuck during an argument with your partner -- get up and move. Walk around the block, dance in your living room, stretch, jump up and down. Get your blood moving and follow this new flow to a place of better understanding and clarity.