The Gentle Breath
As I mentioned right at the start, getting grounded is easy. It’s staying there, particularly in high stress situations, that’s the tricky bit.
Not tricky as in hard, it just takes some dedication and persistence, some strengthening of the natural system.
So, let's jump and learn some simple but REALLY powerful body tech.
We’re going to play with our breath.
And I’d please ask you to put aside any breath training you’ve done so far and really pay attention to what I’m going to tell you. Very few people teach this.
And yes I said play very intentionally.
When we are at play, as in enjoying ourselves and exploring with curiosity, we learn far more effectively than when we’re taking it seriously.
In Qigong the method I'm going to show you is called Jing breathing (sometimes Kidney breathing)
(Exactly what that means I'm not going to go into detail on here, except to say Jing is the term for your life force energy. The energy that expresses itself as your drive to live, your sex drive, your primal desire.)
It’s powerful, and when you learn to ground, build and harness it… life becomes even more fun.
So, I was about to give you something to do (seriously there’s so many interesting tangents I could go on it takes a bit of discipline to stay focussed!)
As you read this, I want you to do the practice. Slow down. Read, do and FEEL. Take your time, it's worth it.
So there’s how you normally breathe.
Pay attention to your normal breath for a moment.
You’ve probably just changed how you breath as you did that.
(It used to always really annoy me when I’d get instructions from meditation teachers to ‘not change how I’m breathing’ - it always changed when I paid attention!)
This change is the first thing I want you to notice.
Your breathing changed when you brought your attention to it. Every component of your body and its systems changes when you pay attention to it. (This is a really deep rabbit hole I'm really not going to go into right now.)
The whole system changes when one component changes.
We change when attention is paid to us. And the intent and quality of attention matters.
If you need a moment to re-read and absorb that, do so.
Bring a gentle smile to your face.
Not a big cheesy grin, although that’s fine if one’s there. Just a gently smile on your lips.
As you breathe in, breathe with the feeling of welcoming an old friend in, of gratitude for the air - hopefully clean - you get to breath.
Notice what changes.
Most people will start breathing a bit deeper. Perhaps sigh. Relax a little. Maybe even get a bit more grounded. Maybe.
Trust what you experience.
Let yourself breathe out through your mouth.
This is what I mean about this idea that there’s activities we’re doing that interfere with our natural (grounded) state.
Just in paying gentle attention to your breath, it changes. Just in gently smiling, it changes.
So now gently, and gently is the key, push your breath into your lower back.
NOT into your belly. Your belly ideally doesn’t move anymore that it normally does. If it does a bit great.
This is layered with the gentle smiling.
Notice what changes.
Remember you’re supporting your body to bring online a natural system in your body, not ’do’ something new. You’re actually doing something old. Ancient.
If you get light headed at any point, do it LESS, ie more gently.
I’d encourage you to keep going for a minute or two, then come back.
OK, how are you feeling?
Most people will feel more relaxed, more grounded. You might feel energised. You may even feel tired if you’re a bit depleted.
You may have had some emotions come up. Or something else entirely. Very occasionally this practice stresses someone out. All pretty normal and whatever your experience critical information for you.
(Any stress or negative emotions are a sign there’s some charged past experience either associated with your breath or stored in your body around your breathing organs and tissues - the best thing to try initially is breathing out through your mouth, making some noise. Over time it should dissipate, if it doesn't get in touch or see your preferred therapeutic professional.)
Contrast is a powerful way to demonstrate progress, so let's do that now.
Return to your ‘normal breath’.
Intentionally breath more shallowly. Don’t smile. Give your breathing as little attention as you can.
Feel things like stress, anxiety and ungroundedness coming back?
Smile, breath gently again.
When you get practiced at it, you’ll be able to easily do it when the shit hits the fan.
Then you’ll start doing it sometimes without realising you’re doing it.
Then you’ll start doing it most of the time.
That gentle smiling breath will come across to others as you being in command of yourself. Of the situation.
So there’s a bunch of tools - all pretty simple - that work together, that take things to a totally different level.