own your beauty: on breath and inspiration

At the beginning of this month, I invited you guys to do an exercise with me:  to take some time each day and deeply inhale at least 10 times, the way that the lovely Karolyn invited us to do.  How have you done?

I fully intended to start each day with this breathing exercise, but my memory isn't what it used to be, and the truth is that more days than not, I just began my morning as I always have.  But I'm pleased to say that this notwithstanding, almost every day in the past month I would remember that I'd promised myself I would commit to this practice, and every day, I stopped what I was doing, and took 10 deep breaths.

Sometimes I would think about what I wanted for myself on the inhalation ... I breathe in calm...

and then would think about what I wanted to rid myself of on the exhalation ... I breathe out worry...

On the next breath, I'd come up with something else ... I breathe in health ... I breathe out tiredness ...

Sometimes I would just breathe.

At the end of a month of doing this, I'm surprised at some of the things I learned:  I discovered that without exception, I felt calmer and clearer and lighter at the end of the breathing exercise than I did at the beginning, regardless of how great I might have felt at the beginning.  I learned that if I was feeling angry or sad or poorly, even if at the end of the exercises these feelings remained, they had somewhat dissipated.  And I was stunned to realize that more often then not, when I got to the end of the 10 breaths, I wasn't eager to go back to what I was doing -- I wanted, instead to keep on breathing.

But there's something else.

Late last year, as I do every year, I chose a word for myself for the coming twelve months; that word is INSPIRE.  When I looked up the definition of INSPIRE, I found what you might expect:

to fill with an animating, quickening or exalting influence; to give rise to, bring about, cause; to influence or impel

However, I also found an additional entry:

to take into the lungs in breathing; inhale

So perhaps the most stunning thing I learned this month, while I did my breathing exercises, was that by controlling my breath, by calming my mind, by focusing on what I hoped for myself, I actually put myself in a state that made it easier for inspiration to find me.  It allowed me to focus.  To become more open-minded.  To ready myself for whatever was to come next.

It's no wonder that inspiration is so closely tied to the breath.  And on that note, I think I'm definitely going to keep going with my exercises.

I hope you enjoyed your own breathing practice as well -- and if you're open to it, I'd love if you'd share what you may have learned or observed in the comments section, below.

Still, in any event:  go inspire yourself.


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