If you feel busier and in more of a hurry now than you’ve ever been before, and wonder if you can keep up this pace much longer, you’re not alone. So many people are using the term “crazy busy” to describe their daily activity, and it’s no wonder with smart phones, email, instant messaging, rushed mornings, endless commutes that include traffic jams or train transfers, eating on the run, meetings and projects, housework, homework and the list goes on. Without intending for it to happen or knowing how it came to be this way, we find that we live in a whirlwind that we don’t want and didn’t create — or at least mean to create.
A main principle of yoga is to create space, which always involves using the breath. In yoga class, teachers often ask us to create more space in our bodies, to breathe into a pose, or exhale to lengthen the spine or deepen the fold. This helps us to get the most out of our poses. But this concept of creating space with our breath can help us to get the most out of our daily lives too… if we just breathe through the busy. Here are three easy ways to give you some breathing room in the midst of being “crazy busy”.
Many of us suffer from screen addiction, whether it be a smart phone, computer screen or TV. Held by a mysterious force, we waste an enormous amount of time engaging in this activity. What’s worse is that we know it! While there is no 12-step program to combat this addiction, they say awareness is the first step, so we’re on our way. Now, to make some kind of structural change, I offer the idea of the Breath Bell. That is, get an app on your phone or computer (or both) that sounds some kind of pleasant chime. Set it to go off at certain times to remind you to disconnect and just breathe for 30 seconds or however long the bell rings. I use the Bell of Mindfulness offered by http://www.nguyensan.me/, and available through the Google Chrome web store.
All too often when we’re in one of those interminable meetings or long lines of traffic, we show outward signs of impatience. You might start tapping your foot, cracking your knuckles or rolling your head or some other obvious display of restlessness, which I’m sure will not speed up anything, except for your eagerness to exit. Instead, subtly put your hands in your lap, create some space between your fingers by stretching them apart. Then, with your dominant hand first, lightly touch the base of your pinky finger with your index finger. Begin to softly trace up to the fingertip as you inhale. Continue tracing down the other side of the pinky finger as you exhale. Carry on with this until you have traced and breathed through your entire hand. Then switch and do finger breathing on your other hand. The welcoming position of the outstretched hand, the calming effect of light touch, and the focus on the inhaling up and exhaling down will have you patiently waiting, and positively wanting more.
Laugh It Off
As the inbox fills up, and the to do list grows, the clock keeps ticking and the stress inside us builds. The more we try to control this by holding our breath or panting through it, the easier it is for it to manifest in digestive disorders, muscle tension, respiratory problems, and even depression. However, “laughter yoga” is a relatively new concept that still emphasizes breathing like traditional yoga, but encourages laughter as exercise for the belly, diaphragm, lungs, and perhaps most importantly, the mind. Recent research has shown that laughter reduces at least four hormones associated with stress. In fact, laughter is one of the most powerful stress-reducing tools we have at our disposal. Laughter, especially a good belly laugh, is also a good source of cardiac exercise and promotes better breathing. So, the next time someone’s breathing down your neck, and you say to yourself, “are you kidding me?” just pretend that it IS a joke and laugh it off. The mind doesn’t know that we’re faking it. In most cases fake laughter quickly leads to real and contagious laughter. Start with a forced exhalation while you say the word “Ha”. Then string a few “ha’s” together while smiling. Listen to yourself laughing in the room by yourself, and you’ll quickly turn it from fake to real. Don’t hold back — giggle, snort, honk, squeal, or whatever you naturally do. After all, laughing is as natural as breathing, and there are some serious benefits from all this silliness.
So, before you get sucked into the vortex and spin out of control, take a breather. Give yourself some breathing space. Ring any bells? If not, get the app to remind you, or take matters into your own hands and give it the finger! Uh, I mean, do some finger breathing, or simply laugh in the face of stress. Whatever you choose, it’s guaranteed to breathe new life into you!