How to Tap Into Your Inner Voice: One Breath, One Pause At a Time
An image I have been using in all of my classes lately is finding the stillness at the center of your being. It's there. You can notice it if you tend to the pauses at the seat of every inhalation and every exhalation. We tend to focus more on the intake of breath and the sharing of the exhalation with the surrounding air. But, I find more interest in the natural pauses that happen after these events.
It's like your body is telling you, "Wait. Stop. Notice. See what I just gave you? No, not the breath...the window to see yourself. Right. Now."
We tend to come to the meditation cushion or a yoga class feeling frazzled. Life has taken its toll on us, we are scatter-brained, stressed, and anxious. Our bodies hurt from carrying the load of ever-growing daily burdens. The time we spend with ourselves helps us shed a few layers and find lightness in our being again.
What if I told you that becoming aware of your breathing at various checkpoints throughout the day was enough to keep yourself in tune with your deepest desires?
Here’s how this works:
Breathing well means inhaling/exhaling just the right amount of air in a body that can receive this air optimally. We are not tightly holding our backs, abdomens, chests, or sides. We are not gripping through the perineum/pelvic floor. We feel free to notice how the trunk expands like a cylinder upon a full inhalation because of how the breathing diaphragm descends; thus, pushing our abdominal organs downwards and expanding our muscles outward. The pelvic floor descends downwards, too, and it rises upon the exhalation when the breathing diaphragm returns to its natural cubby: the ribcage. It’s an absolutely exquisite design.
But, tension is a beast. It robs us of this beautiful expansion and lets us only take small quips of air in the upper chest. Our system cannot move, which is stressful! Our cortisol levels rise, causing inflammation in the body. We become anxious and the downward spiral begins.
You can consciously regain control here. Notice your breath without judgment. Be kind to yourself. Now breathe in as if smelling something you absolutely love. Notice what shifts—your body, your mood, your thoughts. Sigh it out with pleasure. Repeat as often as you need to so you can realize how the body and mind move and affect each other.
Once you come to a beautiful, relaxed, optimal breath, notice the stillness that comes at the seat of the inhalation and the seat of the exhalation. Those moments offer clarity. Sit there. Keep breathing, but observe what happens when you have received a nice inhalation and exhalation.
It's like a clearing in the woods. We can become sensorially charged with all that surrounds us. We find a trail, explore its ways, enjoy the smells, sounds, colors, textures along the way. The canopy sometimes breaks to see the sky, but we are mostly consumed with what we are doing. Then there is a clearing. It's like God rolled out a mat for you. An invitation to rest. Check in. Just be still for a moment. Our minds are filled with so much STUFF. Find the clearing. Tend your breath and discover how to breathe well. Now tend to the pauses in between. You will find yourself there.
Take a seat and simply say, "I'm listening." Like forest fairies revealing their magic to you, so will your inner voice. Your inner voice is your ultimate truth. You will discover your values, your intuition, and what is most important to you. You can discern where to focus your energy based on what your inner voice reveals.
Tending to your inner voice will change your life. But, you have to create the space for it to come. It all starts with the breath.
(Photo from hipcamp.com)