The Well

Archive for October, 2010

Reap What We Sow

by Andrew Shaw on Oct.25, 2010, under Recent Posts

A friend of mine, for a long time, was living a life he didn’t enjoy, and was caught in a string of negativity.  He wasn’t making good choices for his life.  And his actions seemed to just reinforce the miserable situation.  He wasn’t taking good care of himself; not eating right, not exercising, drinking too much, not getting enough rest.  His mind was always turning toward the negative and cynical.  He seemed to be continuously operating from a point of defensiveness and if he was wronged, he’d attack back.  He didn’t like his job, didn’t like where he lived, didn’t like the people he hung out with.  

A friend of mine also recently quit the job that was bringing him much unhappiness.  He decided to embrace uncertainty rather than stay safe in misery.  This initial choice led to a series of other new choices; he cut back on his drinking, he started going to yoga classes, he moved to Hawaii for six months to surf and work on a farm, he became a vegetarian, he started to cultivate a more positive outlook, and his once grey thoughts and attitude brightened. 

 The intersting thing is that these “two friends” are really one in the same.  One person, who changed everything one day, when he made a different choice and altered the very course of his existance.   

Every action has a reaction, every choice a consequence.  If we are seeking happiness and well-being, and want good things to enter into our lives, we must pay attention to the quality of our choices and actions.  To create happiness in our lives, we must learn to sow the seeds of happiness.  To create health and wellness, we must sow the seeds of health and wellness.  To create love, we must sow the seeds of love. 

This requires conscious choice-making and right action.  We have to be aware of the choices we make in the moment.  And we can ask ourselves, “what are the consequences of this choice that I’m making?”  “Will this choice and this action bring about happiness to me and to those affected by this choice?”  “Will this choice or action bring me better health and wellness?” “Will this choice bring about greater peace and love?”

If the answer to these questions is yes, and you feel a strong sense of goodness and ease in your heart, then it is the right choice and the right course of action.  You can use these questions as a guide, remembering to be aware, fully conscious about the impact of your actions and the significance of your choices.

Be Well

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Breathe

by Andrew Shaw on Oct.09, 2010, under Recent Posts

Breathing—Something so simple and yet so powerful and healing. 

Studies show that merely learning how to breathe correctly can have remarkable effects throughout your body.  The typical person tends to hold their breath when tense and only use around twenty percent of their lung capacity.  Sending better oxygen content to all the cells of the body can bring dramatic changes in general health and mood.  Health guru, Dr. Andrew Weil, says that if he could only give one tip for better health, it would be to breathe properly. Proper breathing technique is central to the ancient practices of Yoga, Qi Gong, Ayurveda and other meditation disciplines.  And, a clinical study by the National Institute of Health followed thousands of participants over a 30-year period and found that the most significant factor in peak health and long life is how well you breathe.

Stress, anxiety, poor posture and habit are some of the reasons that keep us from breathing properly.  We wind up using our chest muscles instead of our abdomen.  Belly breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, is a simple deep breathing technique that teaches you how to use your diaphragm, a muscle at the bottom of our lungs and the most important muscle for breathing.  It is often used as a complementary therapy for anxiety disorders and may also help to boost energy and stamina.

Belly breathing is also one of the best stress management techniques you can perform.  Your breathing directly reflects the level of tension you carry in your body.  Under stress, your breathing usually becomes shallow and rapid, occurring high in the chest.  When relaxed, you breathe more fully, more deeply, and from your abdomen (belly).  It’s difficult to be tense and to breathe from your abdomen at the same time.  The key to natural, diaphragmatic breathing is to begin to learn to sense unnecessary tension in your body and to learn how to release this tension.  This requires great inner attention and awareness.  It requires learning the art of self-sensing and self-observation, developing a fuller mind-body awareness.

To practice belly breathing, lie down or sit comfortably with your back straight.  Place your hand on your belly.  This will help you to be aware of your abdominal muscles as you breathe.  As you begin to inhale, your hand on the belly should begin to rise.  Now exhale noticing the abdominal muscles contract.  Once again your hand should move in as you exhale.  Expand your belly like you’re filling up a balloon.  Then exhale, letting all the air out of the balloon.  As you exhale, just feel yourself letting go of tension. You know you’re doing belly breathing right when you can feel your belly expand and contract, rise and fall.   Keep repeating the belly breathing slowly and gently for a short while.  When your mind wanders, just gently bring your attention back to the belly, and to the rise and fall there. 

This is belly breathing. This is better breathing.  Breathing through your belly will gradually become easier if you practice it on a regular basis.  After you have practiced this exercise for about a week, try doing your belly breathing at different times during the day, even when you are standing and particularly when you notice you’re feeling stress.  See if it helps you feel better and more relaxed.

Be Well

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