Health,  Self Care

Just Breathe

I don’t meditate, unless you count my daily walks, which I believe to be a form of active meditation. But sitting down and getting still and observing your breath as you inhale and exhale and try to clear your mind by dispassionately observing the myriad of thoughts that suddenly all want to come in to your brain—nah, not my thing.

I actually do believe deep breathing is so very good for us, and collectively we probably don’t do nearly enough of it. But I grew up in a religious organization that practiced meditation (and yoga, actually) long before it became a “thing” in the US. Perhaps it was the timing that put me off of it, you see, I never did appreciate being awakened to meditate and chant at 3:30am on too many mornings of my childhood. To this day I personally believe that the only good reason to wake up at 3:30am is to take an early flight to a warm and sunny vacation spot!

However . . . my Apple Watch recently got an operating system upgrade. With it came an app called “Breathe.” I love this app! It reminds you throughout the day to breathe, and cues you to do so with a gentle haptic touch pattern on your wrist. You can customize many aspects of it, with a minimum session time of one minute and maximum five minutes. It even tells you your heart rate at the end. So simple that anyone, no matter how busy, can pause even for just one minute to breathe, right?

Sigh, apparently not. I was doing it for a while pretty well, but then it seemed that every time I saw the reminder I dismissed it because I was “too busy” or “in the middle of something” or “didn’t feel like it.”

The truth is, every single time I stop to breathe, even for just one minute, I feel so much better. Calmer, more relaxed, more grounded, more content, happier. It feels good, no matter what is going on in my day.

These are uncertain times for many. As someone once said, “Control is an illusion.” Deep down, we all know that we really don’t have control over much in this life. When I choose to sit and breathe, I feel a semblance of control. I am breathing, and that is enough in that moment.

Five times a day, my Apple Watch reminds me to “Take a minute to Breathe.” Even if I make it just once in a day, it’s better than none. Even if it’s just once in a week (they send a nifty weekly summary every Monday,) I know it was better for me than if it were none. In so many areas of our life, it’s a process to develop a habit, a pattern, a routine. I’ll just keep breathing, as long as I can, as much or as little as I can. At least I have control over that. As do we all.

So, take a minute to breathe whenever possible. There is no right or wrong way. When you think of it, do it. Set a timer. Find an app. Make it a part of your day, every day. Inhale. Exhale. You can’t go wrong. You won’t go wrong.

Just. Breathe.

And have a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving!

Previously published on My Edmonds News

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