Breathworks for Body & Soul is about nurturing and the deepest level of self-care. It is a program of moving stretches that offer comfort and feel-good therapeutic benefit to both body and the soul. Although the stretches create ease of movement in the physical body, they are really about self-discovery and reunion with the self. It is about the personal integration of body and spirit.
The movements are actual meditations rather than exercise, and offer a unique approach to self- healing and self-discovery; combining gentle, fluid moves that warm and lubricate and loosen tight muscles and stiff joints, with the “single-pointed intention” and attention on noticing.
You’re noticing what you’re feeling, both physically and emotionally, then noticing the awareness that occurs as a result of the movement and the “noticing”. In meditation terms they call it “observing the observer.”
For those of you who have difficulty quieting your mind enough to stay with traditional meditation, the absolute concentration on feeling the body throughout the movements, results in the same centering and peaceful refreshing of the spirit that meditation brings.
The movement combinations are also a great way to both begin and end the day. Because of the beneficial impact on the muscles and joints, they eliminate the stiffness and pain that many of us experience when we first get out of bed or at the end of a long, stressful day.
The combination of doing the slow, gentle stretches with the concentration on the breath and feeling the physical sensations associated with the movement, not only prepares your body for the activities of the day, but also brings the attention into the center of yourself.
Done before bedtime, the concentrated focus on the physical body, replaces your mind’s need to “re-work” the day in a stream of incessant chatter, and will bring you back into the center of your self.
This “centering” creates a sense of internal quiet that most of us long for. It establishes a connection and communication with your physical body that many people live their whole lives without experiencing.
Most of us strive for balance and connected-ness in our lives. Yet ironically, we spend most, if not all of our time outside ourselves. We take our bodies completely for granted. We often eat food with no nutrient value.
We abuse ourselves unmercifully with too much caffeine and alcohol, food on the run…even healthy food, and unbelievably hectic schedules. We get no exercise – or we get too much.
We accept that as the way it is. Desire and good intentions don’t remove the stresses from our personal environment. One of the physical manifestations of disconnection and self- neglect is that our muscles become tight and sore, joints become stiff and our tendons and ligaments suffer misuse and lose stability – so we often injure ourselves.
At the same time our spirits are often heavy; we feel scattered and fragmented and the joyful energy that comes from being in touch with ourselves is gone. Our souls feel a yearning for something we can’t quite identify.
Breathworks for Body & Soul will gently lead you into self-awareness, then into a practice of nurturing self-care and finally into self-connection and acceptance. Each person’s experience will be different. It will be a personal connection, a recognition of your own special need.
It is a gift for those of you in spiritual pursuit of the union of body, mind and spirit. Yet both the spiritual traveler and the person feeling stiff joints, sore muscles, and the aches and pains associated with getting older will benefit from the gentle, rhythmic moves.
The circular/spiral-diagonal movements both stretch and strengthen, contributing to a state of postural balance that offsets the repetitive, uni-dimensional movements of our daily activities.
This program is as adaptable as Breathworks For Your Back. You might even call it a non-program. The meditations can take thirty minutes, or they can be done in as little as five or ten. The need and the intent is what counts.
With each set of stretches I will explain the muscle groups being stretched and strengthened, and how the moves will benefit your body. I will also talk about the psychological and spiritual areas touched by the movements, and try and reassure and prepare you for the changes and emotions you may experience.
I encourage you to journal about your experiences, as you begin to or return to a place of open communication with your physical bodies and spiritual self.
Each moving stretch is presented as a metaphor: “Making The Connection”, “Beginning To Open Up”, Finding Balance”, etc. The movements initiate activity in both sides of the brain simultaneously, resulting in a deep sense of calm and balance. A warm blanket of well being gently envelops your body, and your ability to stay focused will improve.
A feeling of self-connection will replace any sense of fragmentation and scattered thinking. Your mind will feel sharper and your memory enhanced.
The physical benefits to you are loosened joints, warmed muscles and a huge surge of fresh blood and oxygen throughout your body and to your brain. Best of all you will feel completely relaxed and your mind feel calm and quiet.
Breathworks for Body & Soul was created out of my own need. I began the practice, to ease the stiffness and discomfort I feel when I first get out of bed and begin moving. I also love to meditate first thing in the morning, but have found I am inclined to drift back to sleep. Like Breathworks For Your Back, I created this program out of my own human frailties.
The meditations use components of movement from BreathWorks For Your Back, and many that are new. They have been combined into sets of fluid moves that are designed to have a specific effect.
Some are more soothing to the body than others, a few are more energizing. Some moves have a deeper calming effect on mind and mood – some take more concentration.
Most of the meditations are done lying on the back, with eyes closed, but some are kneeling and some standing.
They all combine use of the breath with slow, spiral diagonal and circular movements, and may be changed and adapted any way that feels good to the body.
Many of them are opening and closing moves, taking the arms and legs away from the body then bringing them back in.
Unlike Yoga these are not held positions, instead they are continuous, liquid, flowing motion that progressively lubricates the joints and increases blood flow to the muscles and throughout the body. As the movement continues your tight muscles and stiff joints will begin to let go of their restrictions and your body begin to move fluidly.
Different than Tai Chi or Qi Gong (Chi Kung), this is not a structured program of movement, where achievement of perfection of the practice is usually a personal goal.
These movements are an exercise in self-expression; taking the instructions and adapting them to move with your body size and physical limitations. Because of this specific difference, there is virtually no chance of undue stress or strain to your body, as the movements are designed to coax your body into readiness.
For some of you the movements may simply be a different method of relieving morning stiffness and mental fogginess. For others it may be a private adventure of self-discovery.
Those of you who have wanted to begin meditating but have been afraid to try will find this an easy beginning and for those of you that already meditate, it can be a refreshing new experience of “being in the moment”.
The movements are simple and safe for old and young, large and small. In every case, they will add something of value to your life.
The format is add-on, yet each combination of movements is a separate one with it’s own name and instructions. They may be combined in a variety of ways to increase the length of the session, or may be segmented to fit personal need and schedule.
Breathing – moving – feeling lets us know we are alive; helps us remember the miracle and gift of our physical body. The combination of the stretches with use of the breath, warms and loosens muscles and joints, increases blood and oxygen to the entire body and makes us feel good.
As your body relaxes into the fluid, sensuality of the continuous movements, a delicious sense of enjoyment will occur – like a cat delighting in their stretch.
Your body will begin to feel like a friend, rather than a stranger … or enemy.
Combining movement with meditation opens doors into the soul. It stimulates the flow of energy, connects our fragmented parts and heals the wounded soul.
Breathworks for Body & Soul is a path that can lead you back to the self and wholeness. It is taking a moment in time to be just with yourself.
In Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra says: “Deep inside us, unknown to the five senses, is an innermost core of being, a field of non-change that creates personality, ego, and body. This being is our essential state — it is who we really are.” This program is one step to discovering who that is.
In “A Time For Being Human “, Eugene Kennedy offers: “Meditation offers us the opportunity to forgive ourselves and to come close to our own personalities so that we are not always living at a distance from the heart of our own being. It enables us to be ourselves, loving ourselves more truthfully and making it more possible, then, for us to love others with this more truly realized self of our own.”
Let the healing begin.