Good morning, everyone! I hope all is well for you on this fine Friday! I don’t know about you, but this has been quite a week from my point of view. First, the earthquake in Haiti shook far more than just that little country. As I write this, the American Red Cross has already raised more than $5 million in donations and I hope you are all doing your part in one way or another. I’m so fortunate to not know anyone who was there when the earthquake struck, but many of my family and friends are missing loved ones and I am praying every day that those people are found safe and sound.
Also in my prayers is my paternal grandfather. I’m not going to go into too many details since this is my blog, not his, and it’s not my place to go plastering other people’s private information all over the world wide web (unless it’s good news, of course). I will say that he got some pretty terrible news about his health this week. After a lengthy surgery and about a million different tests, it looks like he’ll be going through a series of chemotherapy this Spring. As sad as I was to receive the news, I knew that my grandfather is a fighter. His quiet demeanor belies the tough spirit housed in his body. When we were children, we were all terribly intimidated by him. Of course, why wouldn’t we be? This 6’4″ man with a commanding voice and watchful gaze always managed to keep a house full of at least 20 children and grandchildren in order. You must be a pretty tough guy to handle that crowd!
But as we’ve grown older, we’ve gotten to know a man who loves deeply, gives completely and smiles readily. A few years ago, one of us “grandkids” noticed that my grandparents hold hands almost everywhere they go. When asked, my grandma joked “It’s so we can hold each other up!” Even if age brings with it some shaky ground, I think they still hold hands because they truly are even more in love at this very moment than they were when they got married almost 63 years ago. They’ve held each other up through more challenges than I can imagine facing in one lifetime and now they are faced with another challenge. And while I know they don’t want to burden anyone, I hope you’ll include them in your thoughts when you can.
Andrea, my counselor for the Spark! Wellness January Cleanse, hosted a teleconference last night that discussed, among other things, taking time for breathing exercises and meditation. One of the exercises she shared that I most appreciated is called the 4-7-8 breath, which was excerpted from an article by Dr. Andrew Weil.
“One breathing exercise I highly recommend is the 4-7-8 breath. It is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; but the ratio of 4:7:8 is. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply. Practice at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.”
Andrea encouraged us to embrace moments of breath and prayer as we begin and journey through our 10-day cleanse. Even though I know the breathing exercise is meant to clear my mind, my intention is to focus that new-found calmness and energy toward the earthquake victims and my grandparents.
Do you do any breathing exercises or meditation?