Natural Stress Reduction Technique
This morning in my yoga practice, the teacher asked the students for any special requests. The responses often consist of requests to focus on the back, shoulders or hip area, commonly tight painful areas for many people. A woman at the back of the room hollered, "stress reduction". The teacher smiled and said, "we'll try to rush through some other stuff so we can get to stress reduction". We all laughed and then she quieted us down to begin formal practice. As we were guided through breathing meditation, my instructor called our attention to the space at the end of the out breath. At the end of each breath cycle, there is a natural pause before the body moves into inhalation (take a minute to see for yourself, don't force it, just put your attention on your breath). Here she said, "you will find a natural space, the opportunity for stress reduction is innate to every breathing cycle. This calm space is there to be experienced at the end of every out breath, you just have to notice it".
There is indeed a natural pause at the end of each out breath, before the body naturally moves to the inhalation. At this pause, which often goes unnoticed, there is a space, a bit of nothingness, an instant of "mindlessness" if you will, to be experienced. I often reference this as the small space where there is no thought.
For the rest of the practice she would periodically call our attention to the out breath. We were in various poses, some more difficult than others, and she would continually remind us of what I call a space opportunity, this connection that is always there, regardless of the pose, the day, time, holiday, crisis, feeling or predicament.
This breathing space is remarkably and predictably - always there waiting to be noticed.
I appreciated this gentle reminder to connect to the breath and experience the space within the flow of my practice. I also appreciated my instructor's lesson for how it relates to mindful living.
Life has such twisted predicaments, relationships and challenges, so often we are contorted, upside down and inside out, feeling lost, disappointed, stressed or hopeless.- hijacked by the ego mind. But here within all of us is this genius ability- a stress reduction built right into each cycle of breath! We just have to pay attention and connect to what is already here.
The calm is always present, even in the overwhelm.
The opportunity to experience it is just a breath away.