DAILY BREATH PRACTICE FOR CALM, FOCUS, & RESILIENCE
series: emotional wellbeing of children by Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, Richard P. Brown, MD
& Somiari Demm, MA/M.Div, CYT, CTS
If there's one thing I do before I do breathing, it's shaking. If I have time, I do tapping but shaking is the number one thing.
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If I only have two minutes, before I do my breathing, I'm going to shake. It's a way to get a lot of stress off quickly and open your system to be in a much better state. A much more resilient, flexible, adaptable, state -- recharged.
And there's another way we can combine with shaking to release stress. Imagine a golden waterfall of light coming down through the top of your head, down through your body, your legs, through the balls of your feet, and back into the earth. Washing away the old stress like a waterfall over a rock-face in the mountains; washing away the rocks and dirt.
And now let's relax once again if possible...Closing the eyes, going inside.
Feel the sensations in your body...Observe the kind of thoughts and level of attention you have now...And observe the rhythm of your breath without interfering with it.
So that's the first golden wheel of Elixir Light Qigong from RobertPeng.com. This is found all over the world, preparing for any healing or group ritual/activity, together. Now another thing we need to do is to clear the energy in our core. These are our crucial organs that keep us going, our vital energy, and we need to release stress there too.
So let's move energy between heaven/sky and earth through us to clear that. So feet about one and a half shoulder with the knees bent if possible. If this is not comfortable for you, your legs could be straight. If that's uncomfortable, you can be sitting down. If your shoulders and chest are okay, you can bring your arms up here. If you've had damage to your shoulders or chest from whatever reason, you may be able to do it with your hands like this. But if you can bring them up here, it's even better.
Now, imagine a giant ball of energy between my hands and body. Feel that ball of energy and just gently, effortlessly breathe in...two, three, four. Breathe out, two, three, four. Breathe in, two, three, four. Breathe out, two, three, four...
And breathing in, straightening your knees, extend your palms to the sun, the stars, the leaves and the trees. As we breathe out, collect a ball of that sky energy and bring it down right in front of you and send it into the earth. Just imagine... And breathing in, collect a ball of earth energy, bring it up in front of you and send it to the sky and the stars.
Breathing out. (Flat, back, hinge from the hips) and send the sky energy into the earth. Imagine it going deep into the earth. Earth energy going through you, and send it to the sky.
Breathing out, going down, flat back, hinge from the hips...And breathing in, coming up, earth energy back to the sky -- where it came from.
Breathing out, two, three four; breathing in two, three, four. Breathing out two, three, four; and breathing in two, three, four. Breathing out, two, three, four; breathing in two, three, four; breathing out...
And bring your energy ball right down in front of your abdomen or belly. Bring your feet, shoulder width. Make yourself comfortable. Can you feel the ball of energy between your fingers? Can you feel the tingling and buzzing sensation in your fingers? If you don't feel it yet, it's just a matter of regular practice.
And breathing in let's expand our ball. Breathing in, feel it expanding with our hands; and breathing out, compress it, feel it push back against the fingers and hands. Breathing in, two, three, four. Breathing out two, three, four. Again, breathing in...
And breathing out, squeeze that ball of energy into a point of light into your palm and place it inside your belly, below the navel. And close your eyes.
Can you see that intense point of light like a pearl, glowing inside you, inside your organs, and the changes that come from that. Imagine sending lavender light, almost the color of my shirt into the belly coming from the center of your palms. It may help to close your eyes to imagine it going inside, filling your organs with energy, making them alive and well.
And, reverse direction (of your hands moving)
And relax, and just let your arms relax by your sides with no tension. Once again, feel what's happening in your body, in your thoughts, and your breath...
Now, something that can both release a lot of stress quickly and relax you afterward is what we call Ha! Breath. So just follow what I do: You're going to breathe in, palms up, and you're going to go, Ha! Loudly, like shaking water off your fingers. And we'll do a few of them. So just follow along. Breathing in...Ha!
Breath in, Ha! Breath in, Ha! (Continue 15 - 20 times)
And two more...
And relax...Close eyes. Can you feel where the energy is moving most strongly in your body?
And opening our eyes...Observes your level of attention. Your mind is now much more switched on and able to do more in a shorter period of time. At the same time, that goes along with a feeling of being more relaxed.
The other thing is when you've had a lot of trauma and you're drained of energy, it's harder to speak with your genuine voice and you may not as empowered. This is one of the practices that helps empower you again to take action, to do what needs to be done.
And you also need something that can quickly calm you down when you're scared or angry and having really negative thoughts. We'll use it with a certain posture to enhance the healing in very nurturing organ channels of the body. So, if possible, stand with your your feet, like a pigeon (like this), and hands palms up just below your navel...
We're going to breathe in effortlessly for four counts; pause the breath effortlessly for four counts; breathe out for six counts; and pause the out-breath for two counts. Just follow along.
Breathing in, two three, four. Suspend your breath effortlessly...And breathing out (coming down slowly) two, three, four, five, six, and pause the out-breath for 2.
Breathing in, two, three, four...Suspend your breath...two, three, four. Breathing out, two, three, four, five, six, and pause the out-breath for two.
Breathing in, two, three, four. Hold...two, three, four. Breathing out (Coming down) three, four, five, six. Pause two.
Breathing in two, three, four....Hold your breath and observe your mind, especially at the breath hold.
Breathing out...Coming down, two three, four, five, six...pause two. One last time. Breathe in two, three, four. Hold, two three, four. Breathing out, two, three four, five, six. Pause for two.
Now, relax, feet, shoulder width. And if possible, close your eyes or partway close your eyes and observe: What's happening in your body. Can you feel more of a space between your thoughts? What are the qualities of your breath and what rhythm does it want to be in? ... And opening our eyes.
So you may want to do a round of six to 10 repetitions like that. Take a 15 to 30 minute break and if you wish to do another one or two rounds of about six to 10 repetitions.
The breath hold is very important, not only to see how quiet your mind becomes, but when you begin to breathe again, your bloodstream is flooded with antioxidant defense enzymes that help repair, damage and delay the aging of your body.
With the Ha! breath, we'll usually do about 15 to 20 repetitions; then pause 15 to 20 seconds. You may do one or two or three of those depending on what you feel you need on that day to energize and be ready.
Dr. Patricia Gerbarg
Patricia L. Gerbarg, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor in Psychiatry, New York Medical College. Dr. Gerbarg has lectured and taught about a wide range of topics in psychiatry, psychoanalysis, women’s issues, trauma, neurobiology, natural treatments (herbs, nutrients), and the integration...
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of mind-body practices in psychotherapy for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Meetings and many other conferences, academic centers, and community organizations.She serves on the APA Caucus on Complementary and Integrative Psychiatry and is a board member of the American Botanical Council.
Dr. Gerbarg practices Integrative Psychiatry, combining standard and complementary treatments. Her research focuses on mind-body practices for reducing the effects of stress and trauma, particularly in survivors of mass disasters, including the Southeast Asia Tsunami, 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, war in Sudan, Gulf Horizon Oil Spill, veterans, and stress-related medical illnesses.
Dr. Richard P. Brown
Dr. Richard P. Brown is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons where he obtained his medical degree 1977. The recipient of numerous awards, he has authored over 100 scientific articles,...
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books, and book chapters on pharmacological treatments, clinical studies, and complementary and integrative treatments in psychiatry.
Dr. Brown developed a comprehensive neurophysiological theory of the effects of breathing exercises on the mind and body, particularly its benefits in anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Dr. Brown gives over 100 lectures and courses every year. Since 1998, he has taught full-day courses on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as well as Mind-Body trainings for the American Psychiatric Association, other national and international conferences, veterans, and community service programs.
Somiari Demm, MA/M.Div, CYT, CTS
Somiari is a certified trauma specialist, a certified yoga teacher, and a certified breath body and mind teacher. Her areas of concentration include children and adolescents, trauma, mindfulness, and spirituality. She is a passionate scholar-practitioner in the...
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field of clinical psychology who has divided her time betweenclinical practice, training, workshops, and consulting. As a mental health practitioner, she uses mindfulness cognitive behavioral therapy (MCBT) and other evidence-based practices to help adolescent and adult clients with a wide range of emotional, and behavioral issues.
Somiari has received extensive training in the treatment of addiction, mental illnesses, affect regulation, and trauma. In her consulting work, she has provided bullying, violence, and trauma training for elementary and residential schools. In addition to clinical practice, for 3 years she worked as a consultant counseling Chibok girls that escaped Boko Haram.Somiari has been interviewed by 60-Minutes, CNN, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, BBC, and Aljareeza.
As a trauma thriver, her life experiences have fostered her love of, and dedication to the mental health field. Following the words of Gandhi, she believes that “purity of life is the highest and truest art.” Somiari also believes she is here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. Through her work, she is enriching the world through love, healing, and peace