grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

RELAX :: a blog series :: five

on December 29, 2015

relax exhale{Every Tuesday this month, we’re meeting here to pull apart the word RELAX. To lean into it. To learn ways we can really practice it. And what better time than the hectic holidays to get some rubber-meets-the-road experience with it?! I’m so glad you’ve been here with me…it’s so much better to work through things like this in the company of kindreds, don’t you agree? Let’s look at the final letter: X}

Before we get too far into this today, let’s take a few minutes and close our eyes, RELEASE the tension in our shoulders, do a couple slow neck rolls, and take about five ease-y, deep breaths.
There.
Doesn’t that feel better?

I don’t know about you, but these days in between Christmas and New Year’s typically find me with a clenched jaw, a stiff neck, super-tight shoulders, and starve-my-brain-of-oxygen shallow breathing. (As well as tissue paper and boxes that still need putting away.)
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I think not.

Truly, that seized-up state is the one I’m in most days when I’m not tapped into RELAXation and its physiologic and spiritual value.
I mean, Life can be jaw-clenchingly stressful at times, amiright?

Okay.
Before I go getting us all stressed out about how stressed out we are, let’s look at the X in RELAX

Once we’ve settled into the practices of RELEASing, EMBRACing, LAUGHing, and ADJUSTing, we can add EXHALing to the mix.
And it really isn’t *rocket surgery* to figure out that the physical act of the EXHALE turns on the RELAXation response while turning off the stress one.
So, obviously, it’s a key part of the practice.

Think back to a few seconds ago when you took those five deep breaths – even if you managed only one, this applies…
Did you feel more RELAXed?

In my work with preschoolers a few years back, I got to attend a workshop on a multidisciplinary behavioral approach called Conscious Discipline. It’s a wonderfully effective collection of strategies. But, one of the big takeaways was this:
— Your Brain, a Shorthand Explanation —
Your brain is like a car.
You have a Driver’s Seat (your prefrontal cortex, the executive/problem-solving area).
You have a Back Seat (your limbic system, the connecting/emotional area).
You have a Trunk (your brain stem, the safety/survival area.)
And, to make a long (but very interesting) explanation short, when you breathe shallowly or hold your breath as when you do when you’re not RELAXed, you deprive your brain of oxygen, which essentially means that you end up trying to drive your car from your trunk.
You see, oxygen is the *magic gas* that helps you access and stay in your Driver’s Seat, your prefrontal cortex.
In other words, keeping your brain oxygenated puts you in a sweet place from which to make good choices, set upon solid decisions, even communicate in ways that are helpful not harmful.
Keeping your brain oxygenated by inhaling and EXHALing deep and intentionally helps you RELAX.

Do yourself a favor right now and take a few more big breaths.
As you EXHALE, this about this…

When God EXHALEd, life happened.
Genesis 2:7 tells us ‘…the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.’
I mean, seriously.
What more powerful example do any of us need to see just how important EXHALing is?

Here are some wise words I found on Pinterest: Trust the process, and the mercy in all of it. Think about how it is 100% okay to not know exactly what is to come, and trust that when things do come, whatever they are, that you will have the strength you need, that the right people will show up, the right circumstances and the right miracles will always happen right on time, just like they always have. Then, breathe deep and go out and live THIS day. THIS is the best and most important day of your life…”

When we talk about breathing, you know how it works, right?
In order to EXHALE, you first have to inhale.
So, here’s my question for you today…what is it that you are breathing in?
If you inhale frustration, you’re going to EXHALE stress.
If you inhale despair, you’re going to EXHALE anger.
If you inhale strength, you’re going to EXHALE wisdom.
If you inhale peace, you’re going to EXHALE hope.
If you inhale joy, you’re going to EXHALE strength.
And if you inhale love, you’re going to EXHALE kindness.

Simply speaking, friend, make sure you choose your ‘air.’
And remember that when you EXHALE, you put yourself in a beautiful position to RELAX.
It’s scientific and spiritual.

{a little programming note: I know I said we’d meet here for five weeks to pull apart ways to RELAX, to lean more fully into a soul-full life. Well, I lied. A little. I’m going to spill a few words here next week in order to put it all together. Join me?}

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5 responses to “RELAX :: a blog series :: five

  1. michele says:

    love this…

  2. You make me smile so wide my dear friend! Im very very proud of you! BRAVO Continue to share the light that shines from within

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