those with No Chill
I always scoffed at the word "meditation" growing up. I was the wild child who ran barefoot through fields, rode her bicycle too fast downhill, and exclusively chose dare during truth or dare. Meditation seemed boring and quite frankly “soft”.
But then my life flipped itself onto its back and like a cockroach kicking into the air, it got ugly. Suddenly I was in charge of a small human I had only met 3 years prior, at his birth. And if I thought I was unhappy with this situation, he let me know he was 10o times less thrilled. Unable to communicate with him due to a speech delay, unable to offer him comfort in anything familiar, I turned to a last resort – Breathing.
I grabbed his tiny hands as he was trying so hard to rid me of them and I took a deep breath in through my nose, visibly expanding my rib cage.
“Now you do it”
He vigorously shook his head no, hopping from one foot to another, head red and ready to pop off. I had no idea why he was mad, but I suspected it was simply waking up again, in a strange place, with a strange woman, and his mother still MIA.
I felt for him, I really did. But at this point I wasn’t sure who I was actually breathing for. I just wanted the screaming to stop.
I inhaled again as deeply as I could, this time holding it. Suddenly there was just less tension in my shoulders, the smallest reassurance to myself this was going to be okay, I couldn’t help but smile as I let the air exit my nose. I held his tiny forearm to my nose, waving my nostrils up and down the inner part of his forearm, including him in on the sensation, even though he refused to actively participate.
I’m not sure what it was that convinced him, but the next breath was taken in unison.
Neither one of us could deny it helped. The screaming stopped. The hopping slowed to sweet rhythmic swaying. Without any spoken words or physical touch, I was able to convince this child that he was safe and okay.
Why? Because he could breathe. And as long as you’re breathing, you’ve got a chance.
There are many types of breathing exercises to get you through meditation. I prefer to go with the ones that are challenging, because well, relaxing is hard for some of us.
This is meditation for those with no chill.
This is a morning meditation, as it definitely wakes you up and engages the nervous system a bit.
1. First, make sure you’re not wearing any constricting clothing. We’re breathing here people.
2. Find a floor.
Oh look a floor! No excuses. You can put down a yoga mat if you’re clean like that. Or just use a rug. The closer you are to dirt, the closer you are to the truth, I always say.
3. Lay down on the floor you found.
Lay on your back and just let your body hang lose, with your arms out to the side, taking up space, palms towards the sky, feet hip width apart.
4. Take a moment to really feel the ground beneath you.
Your spine lengthening and being supported by the solid foundation beneath you.
5. Warm up breaths
These are the cleansing breaths. Let your lungs expand and deflate a few times. It doesn’t need to be structured, just a casual warm up.
6. It’s breathing time baby
It’s time to start breathing. Now, there are many ways to breath. There’s your lungs and diaphragm.
Lungs are beginner shit. If you know how to breathe with your diaphragm, there’s a good chance you were in marching band.
Another way to look at is: Shallow vs Deep breathing
The lungs come naturally, so let’s take a moment to look for your diaphragm. The best way to do this is to take a big yawn. Mouth wide open, sucking in air, go ahead.
Hopefully you felt your belly expand? That’s your diaphragm. Go ahead and try to access it again, this time without yawning.
Well learning to breathe deeply, it often helps to place a hand on your stomach, feel the movements, and guide your breath to its destination. This is diaphragmatic breathing.
7. Structured Breathing
This is where no chill comes into play. There is a time for playing with
bubbles in the bubble bath and then there’s a time for self-improvement. What
time do you think it is? Improvement time!
Let’s start simple.
We’re doing 4 counts. Try you’re best to get that into a cadence that matches actual seconds (1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi, 4 Mississippi), or (even better in some cases) your heart beat, if it’s slow enough. And the pattern goes:
IN (1, 2, 3, 4)
HOLD (1, 2, 3, 4)
OUT (1, 2, 3, 4)
HOLD (1, 2, 3, 4)
Once you’ve gotten accustomed to this routine, I like to push it. On a good day I can go all the way to 20.
Is that relaxing?
It is until it’s time to hold it without oxygen, but I’ve found that it is incredibly difficult for me to keep at something without a proper challenge, without being able to measurable, quantifiable improvement along the way.
Obviously if you never go above 4 counts that’s great and I envy those with chill; but those without it, this is how you convince yourself to meditate.
It’s called gamification, and it works.
I highly suggest using this relaxation technique every morning to center yourself and prevent anxiety from sneaking up on you. Deep breathing is a gateway to mindfulness and accessing your subconscious mind.