Recently, I have been doing this thing with my breath at the top of the inhale. I hold it. Then I notice I am holding it, and I let it go, but it's a little too late. Not only has this been creating a lot of internal tension in my body, especially my upper back, neck, ribs, and shoulders, but it has been a steady ingredient in my recipe of anxiety.
I started noticing it mainly at work in the mid-afternoons, when I start to realize that I have come up short in my goals or feeling like I haven't gotten enough done. I also notice it in meetings and challenging conversations. I also notice it's been happening in traffic, and on the massage treatment table. I literally stop breathing. I am holding on, bracing, armoring up, putting up a protective sheath with my energetic and breathing body. My good friend told me that my awareness is the first step in the unraveling of this response.
Unraveling. I love that word. I really love that word. A lot.
I crave unraveling. I crave spreading out and expanding, loosening up, Not gripping so hard. I read somewhere that the skills we learn in our first half of our lives are survival skills and in our second half of our life, we realize these skills don't serve us. Yep, makes sense.
The armoring up, the bracing, the deep protective nature I so intimately know has started to take its toll on me, my body, and my life. Slowly, but surely, like a big ball of string that is tangled, I am delicately unraveling. One day at a time. Some days are easier. Some days feel really hard. Some days require copious amounts of chocolate, wine, cheese, and hugs. And some days feel glorious.
Holding my breath is my lesson at the moment. It's my mindfulness practice. There is nothing to solve here, nothing to see, really. It's just my breath and me, hanging out in this space called life doing the best we can, moment by moment, and unraveling one day at a time.