I still have post-it notes in my house reminding me to "Breathe" and "Have Fun." I smile when I notice them and think back to the Joy of Breathing workshop I joined in May 2020. The entire world had turned upside down in those early months of 2020. I felt so uncertain and isolated and very far away from my friends in Bangalore. I had never heard of Zoom but it quickly became such a personal blessing - I could look from box to box and reconnect with friends as well as meet new acquaintances while hearing faint sounds of Bangalore in the background. I appreciated the opportunity to focus on my breathing and learn something new.
Of course, I had heard many times the advice to "take a deep breath" but had never incorporated that wisdom into my life. This workshop and the ongoing group practice have helped to change my attitudes about myself and beliefs about living a fulfilling life. I have more awareness of my body and what she is telling me. In the beginning, I struggled with abdominal breathing. Now, I get much pleasure from focusing on the movements of taking a deep breath, holding the breath, and squeezing out as much air as possible. It is a wonder to feel air coming into my nostrils and traveling down my throat. I felt the excitement of accomplishment when my body and mind finally worked together to understand the "square breath.”
When I notice my post-it notes they are good reminders to bring my focus onto my breath at any moment of my day. I have relaxed myself out of worry and back to peaceful sleep so many times this past year by taking deep belly breaths, eased a discomfort in my body with calming breaths, focused on different parts of my body with vocal breaths, smiled while doing the whistle breath, and energized myself with rounds of Kapalabhati.
I know now from experience (despite the 11½ hour time difference) that by the end of each session, I will feel so much more alive and content and peaceful and full of joy. The breathing practice energizes and enhances my life. Participating with the Shalom family in Joyful Breathing has been a challenge, inspiration and blessing in my life. I am so thankful for this opportunity and eager to continue the FUN journey in 2022.
- Ellen Dugger
Columbia, MO, USA