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Its Elemental Air 2012
'Air' edition of quarterly newsletter of Australian and Kiwi Rebirth International Breathworkers
Heyda, A., 2003, An Impact of Conscious Connected Breathing on Emotional States
Heyda, A., 2003, An Impact of Conscious Connected Breathing on Emotional States, The Healing Breath Journal – a Journal of Breathwork Practice, Spirituality and Psychotherapy, vol.5, no 2 p. 9-18
It was my my master thesis:).
Heyda et al, Emotional Stress, Cortisol and Peripheral Blood Cells in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Breathwork Training During Radical Radiotherapy\"
Heyda A, Jurkowski MK, Składowski K, 2008, "Emotional Stress, Cortisol and Peripheral Blood Cells in Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing Breathwork Training During Radical Radiotherapy", Psycho-Oncology, vol.17, no 6 suppl, June 2008, p.266-267
Presented as poster during 10th World Congress of Psycho-oncology , International Psycho-Oncology Society, 09-13.2008 Madrid.
Conscious Connected Breathing Training Decreases Level of Anxiety and Heyda A et al, Depression and Increases NK Cell Counts in Breast Cancer Patients: Preliminary Report
Heyda A, Jurkowski MK, Głowala - Kosińska M, Czuba A, Składowski K, Conscious Connected Breathing Training Decreases Level of Anxiety and Depression and Increases NK Cell Counts in Breast Cancer Patients: Preliminary Report.
Poster presentation presented during 9th World Congress of Psychooncology , International Psycho-Oncology Society,16-20.09 2007 London
Published as abstract in: Journal of Psycho-Oncology, vol.16, no 9 suppl, September 2007, p.224-225
Breath Chapter from acclaimed ebook healing Post Traumatic Stress
Excerpt from Holistic Self-Care For Post-Traumatic Stress and Dissociative Identity
chapter “Breath, Exercise, and a Great Hiccup Cure”
copyright 2008 Cindee Grace
Breath, Exercise, and a Great Hiccup Cure
Since this chapter reveals the healing treasures of breath, let me take you back to 1973, when I first bumbled into a life-changing, breath-education bonanza.
I, a 19-year-old UCLA newcomer and undergraduate vocal performance major, could barely whisper to the attentive graduate-level voice student, “The doctor said my voice will get better if I rest it. But - ”
He interrupted, “Write what you want to say. Rest your voice.”
I hastily scribbled, “The doc says I have to stop performing for awhile. But I really want to sing. I’ve got to get a good grade - ”
“Who’s your voice professor in beginning singing class?”
I wrote, “Mr. O.”
“You’re also in his musical theatre workshop and want to sing in those plays, right?” I nodded yes. “Get over to administration and switch to Professor M’s beginning singing class. Did the doctor give you a note for Mr. O. so he won’t flunk you for not singing as much?”
I again nodded. The grad student said, “He’ll probably still tell you to keep singing: ‘the show must go on’ and all that. But don’t you dare, if you want to keep your voice! You aren’t required to have Mr. O. for beginning singing, to stay in his musical theatre. So change to Prof. M for singing.”
I had previously glimpsed subdued Prof. M.’s portly physique in the music building hallways. So I had chosen trim, charismatic Mr. O. for singing. He had starred in big-time Broadway musicals. To the student I squeaked, “But Prof. M. sings classical. I don’t wanna sing classical.”
“Yeah, he was the tenor for the New York Metropolitan Opera. But his techniques are great for any style. The studios send their movie stars and rock singers to M., when they’ve hurt their voices. I know you want to sing musicals and pop songs right now. But you’ve got to think about the long-term… not just about getting applause this month. I hope you’ll think of your future.”
Unenthused, I nonetheless made the administrative change. A few days later, I reluctantly shuffled into my first class with my new singing professor. I thought, “Class with opera singer M. will be as dull as elementary-school etiquette class had been.” Wearing suit-and-tie, Prof. M. stood at the room’s front. Beside me sat a few music majors. Other students I didn’t recognize were chewing-gum chomping, hulking fellows wearing varsity athletic jackets.
The professor spoke firmly, “Anyone who is chewing gum may wrap it in paper and put it in the wastebasket now. This is voice class - not a gymnasium locker room.” The irritated athletes disposed of their gum and noisily flopped back in their seats.
Prof. M continued, “A very few of you have enrolled in this class to actually learn to sing. The rest of you are here because someone told you singing class is an easy way to fulfill your arts requirement.” The athletes blatantly smirked.
“The smirk or the ‘partial smile’ of these varsity students does have a use in singing.” Quickly, the smirks vanished. “But we will not be covering that today.” With a pudgy finger, he signaled the most massive of the athletes to stand beside him. “Class, closely observe this demonstration. In a few moments, I will sing a single, sustained note.”
Prof. M. placed his heels and back against the wall. To the athlete, he directed, “Place one of your palms here below the front of my ribs. Place your other palm on top of the first hand. This is where the diaphragm muscle can be felt easily. Do you feel that soft muscle moving toward my back when I exhale? Do you feel how this is not bone but merely muscle?” The student nodded.
“When I begin to sing, press as hard as you can. The wall behind me supports your pushing. I want you to push the exhale out of me. Try to make my note run out of air.”
“Sir, I don’t want to hurt you. I can push really hard.”
“You are to push as hard as you can, with a single, constant pressure.”
“But - ”
“I will not give you a failing grade if you hurt me. I will fail you if you do not press with all your strength. I can tell if you do, so don’t try to fool me. Put your feet and legs in a lunging position. That way, you can push with even more force.” The student’s powerful legs and back were now in the best position to flatten the “target.”
“Begin the steady push with all your strength when I sing the note.” To the class, he warned, “Do not do this to anyone. If the person doesn’t press at the right place, the xiphoid bone could break and damage an organ.”
The athlete blanched. He tried to lift his hands off M. But the professor clamped his own hands over them. “I’ve done this demonstration many times and never been hurt. Do you believe the university knows what they’re doing by hiring me? Do you believe I know what I’m doing?” Grimly, the young man nodded affirmatively.
“I am glad you believe in me. I believe that you can follow my instructions correctly. I believe in you. Do you believe in you? Can you follow my instructions?”
The athlete answered with newfound self-confidence. “Yes.”
M. took his hands off the young man’s. “You have set aside fear in pursuit of learning. You have the courage that the best athletes have. Class, I want you to guess to yourself. How long can I, of medium size, sing when a tall football player is pressing against my exhale with all his might? Take into account the wall and lunging position adding to the football player’s power.”
Some students noted the time on their watches. M. inhaled deeply. He began to glow with a nearly-visible aura. His lips formed a half-smile - then his golden stream of sound emerged.
The athlete obediently started the steady, forceful push. His face grew red with effort.
The glorious sung tone filled the room, spilling through the closed door and into the hallway. The tenor, immersed within a muse’s inspiration, expressed volumes with the wordless vowel. The note, with ever-changing nuances, soared on and on…
We students lost track of time, fascinated by the display. The athlete’s arms and legs were shaking from the sustained push. The singer, immensely content, delved into worlds within the sound.
Eventually, the luxurious note ceased. Prof. M. told the athlete, “You may sit down.” The panting student wobbled to his seat. The professor explained, “I have sometimes been accused of having body armor under my shirt. I ask the pardon of the ladies, as I lift my shirt.” He pulled up his shirt – skin and no armor. Then he tucked his shirt back into his suit pants. His barrel-shaped torso was not flabby like I’d assumed. Beneath ample fat hid extraordinarily powerful muscles.
He elaborated, “The way I - and my teachers and their teachers - teach voice does not depend on brute strength. The slimmest young woman can develop vocal strength and breath power. Awareness matters more than strength. Awareness will bring you a special strength.”
I enthusiastically learned from him. In less than one year, he placed me into his third-year advanced class. I began teaching my own voice students. As years passed, I sang diverse styles (except classical) for stage, radio, television, and recorded my own CDs that included a few songs about surviving trauma.
You needn’t audition or pay university tuition, to benefit from this chapter’s breath techniques. Over the decades, I enhanced vocalist breath techniques with physical therapy and breath exercises from martial arts and yoga. I adapted ancient techniques or invented some to assist trauma healing.
The nutrient oxygen in the breath is alkalinizing. Too little oxygen results in an “anaerobic” (oxygen-deficient) environment “cell respiration.” Two-time Nobel Prize winner cancer researcher Dr. Otto Warburg declared that the prime cause of cancer was anaerobic cell respiration. He recommended, as a cancer cure, deep breathing techniques.
Before doing the techniques below, check with a health professional if you have breath-related illnesses (asthma, emphysema, etc.), heart problems, or recent torso surgery or injury. Someone who has a fast heart rate (tachycardia) might have to skip the energizing techniques and do the relaxing pulse-slowing ones.
Breath exercises can greatly assist people with physical and psychological challenges - including PTS/DI, depression, anxiety, Attention Deficit, and alcohol recovery. Certain breathing techniques can work as well or better than medications. Evidence points to increased “feel good” hormones prolactin and vasopressin, which are often low in people with depression and other conditions.
Some subjects in a study of “battered women” were helped by speaking “witness testimony” to a trained listener. The other subjects instead practiced “pranayama” breath techniques. The results? The pranayama subjects had decreased feelings of hopelessness and gained self-confidence (“self-efficacy”). The group who did both the breath techniques and witness testimony improved most.
By practicing this chapter’s breath techniques with “one-pointed,” relaxed concentration, I believe you’ll gain a more comfortable brain structure and function that “all of you” deserve. All of you is still “you” (authentic), if your brain structure and function becomes more comfortable due to natural self-care.
Do you think you’ve lived with the trauma too many years to improve with breath? Vietnam veterans with PTS (who had neglected themselves for thirty years) benefited right away from breath exercise - dramatic relief from panic and other PTS symptoms.
In addition to breath, below we visit exercise. We also learn a way to stop “hiccups” (diaphragm spasms). Hiccups are folks’ least favorite breath “exercise!”
When someone with PTS/DI exercises body regions emotionally or physically associated with trauma, emotions might arise. Physical exercise can be an emotional healing tool. Before or during exercise (including breath techniques), you could silently or aloud say an affirmation about your safety or other helpful focus.
* “My pelvis is safe as I practice bladder strengthening techniques.”
* “My legs are exercising in the present moment.”
* “I exhale fear and inhale calmness.”
An essential breathing muscle is the “diaphragm.” Sit or stand. Imagine a dinner-plate sized muscle in the horizontal position at your nipple line during exhalation. When you inhale, the diaphragm contracts. It lowers 5-10 centimeters (1.9 to 3.9 inches). Lowering upon inspiration (inhalation), the diaphragm makes more space for the lungs. Air rushes in to fill that space. “Inspiration” is associated with the word “spirit.” During exhalation, breathing muscles relax. Inhalation is an active process; exhalation is passive.
A resting adult normally has 8 to 16 breaths per minute. An infant might normally breathe up to 44 breaths per minute. You can slow or speed up your ventilation (breath) rate, or deepen your ventilation depth.
Factors that increase rate and depth are prolonged (not sudden severe) pain, increased body temperature, or decreased blood pressure. Factors that decrease rate and depth are severe pain, decreased body temperature, or increased blood pressure. When someone reaches 70 years old, the “vital capacity” (maximum air exhaled and inhaled) may decrease 35%. Fortunately, we may increase vital capacity with exercise.
Breath retention (holding the breath) is another self-care tool. A short retention energizes and increases oxygen consumption 52%. A long retention reduces the oxygen consumption up to 19% and reduces the metabolic rate. “Burning up calories” is part of the metabolic rate.
Too often, people in the temporarily dominant culture learn unhealthy breathing patterns. “Soldier, suck in that gut, stick out that chest!” But chest breathing does not bring as much oxygen to our bodies as diaphragmatic breathing does. Chest breathing is harder on several muscles and on the heart. Overworked muscles and heart worsen anxiety and depression. Reclaim the belly with breath. Let your belly expand, regardless of size.
Improving Your Air Quality; Lessening Allergies, Asthma and Other Breath Challenges
For deep-breathing techniques, do them at the times when air is cleaner. Your local health department may know which hours the smog is less. Early morning hours (before the “rush hour” commute) and after rain or wind are prime times. Do breath exercise upwind from pollution sources.
For indoor air quality, indoor plants are my favorite “device.” The plant chlorophyte (commonly known as spider plant, St. Bernard’s lily, and zebra grass) clears a 30-metre space of 95% of numerous toxic fumes. It cleans out smoke poisons. It needs water as infrequently as twice monthly.
Indoor Plants That May Remove Pollutants:
Benzene: a pollutant found in synthetic fibers, tobacco smoke, gasoline, detergents, dyes, rubber, plastics, paints, oils and inks.
To help clear benzene from air, consider the plants Peace lily, Gerbera Daisy, Chrysanthemum, Warneckei, Janet Craig, Dracaena marginata, English Ivy.
Formaldehyde: This pollutant is in natural gas, cigarette smoke, adhesive bindings of floor coverings, fire retardant, waxed paper, grocery paper bags, pressed wood products, plywood, foam insulation.
For relief, decorate with the plants Mother-in-law’s tongue, Chrysanthemum, Corn plant, Bamboo palm, Golden pothos, Spider plant, Philodendron, Azalea.
Trichloroethylene: It’s used in the dry cleaning and metal degreasing industries; in adhesives, varnishes, paints, and printing inks.
Possible plant helpers include Dracaena marginata, Warneckei, Peace lily, Chrysanthemum, Gerber daisy.
Consider at least 1 plant per 100 square feet of space. Just about any green plant with large leaves contributes fresh oxygen and eliminates an array of pollutants. During times of less outdoor pollution, open the buildings’ windows or doors. Turn on vents to bring fresh air in. Before you buy an air cleaner, learn which types work. Certain air cleaners give off the pollutant ozone, or create noise pollution via fans that can worsen irritability and interfere with sleep. See “Resources.”
Breathe routinely through your nose not your mouth. Your nasal passages have tiny “hairs” and other features that filter out impurities and prepare air for your lungs. You can reduce allergies for better breathing. Dust mites live in pillows, overstuffed furniture, carpets, etc. Bear in mind allergy-proof covers and uncarpeted floors. Keep pets out of the bedroom and off the bed. Try vacuuming at least twice weekly. Mold (a common allergen) thrives in humid places.
HEALTH “MIRACLES” BY RINSING YOUR NOSTRILS
Instead of energy-gobbling dehumidifiers and air conditioners, buy a nasal irrigation or “neti” pot. It looks like an oddly-shaped, small teapot. People in India and elsewhere use it or other “nasal irrigation” means. Reduce your allergies, sinus infections, and susceptibility to the common cold (rhinitis or rhinosinusitis), flu, by rinsing your nasal passages and sinuses twice daily. Find a neti pot at health food stores and internet businesses.
Airborne viruses, bacteria, and allergens stick onto the inside of the nose. Rinsing nasal passages clean makes hygiene sense. Studies prove nasal irrigation’s effectiveness. Though some M.D.s offer nasal irrigation via machines, you might not need it, if you do daily nasal hygiene.
Some people have rinsed their nasal passages at home with water-pulsing gum irrigation devices such as a Water Pik® - with or without a Grossman Sinus Irrigator Tip Water Pik® attachment. But pulses of water can be uncomfortable and less thorough than a neti rinsing. Saline water spray and snorting water are less effective.
Who should not do nasal irrigation? If you have a moderate to severe sinus headache or a stuffy nose, first use just enough decongestant spray to somewhat open your sinuses. Then do nasal irrigation. If you have a deviated septum, get corrective surgery first. Nasal irrigation is generally okay to do if you have septal perforations or nasal polyps.
If you survived trauma related to your nose, throat or breathing, do emotional preparation. Do relaxation or take relaxing herbs before you rinse. Do affirmations (e.g. “I am safe as I rinse my nose”).
Your neti supplier likely has directions or videos that explain how to do it. However, they might not be as clear as my neti instructions I present here. My neti is ceramic and fits in my hand. It has a spout at one end where the water will pour out into my nostril. It holds about ¾ cup of water. I use warm (not hot) bathroom sink tap water. I add almost ¼ teaspoon table salt to the water for more cleaning effect and to buffer the tap water’s chlorine. Do not nasal rinse with tea, essential oil, or cayenne peppered water!
Certain people like to use filtered or distilled water and sea salt (or ¼ teaspoon salt with ¼ teaspoon baking soda). I like the convenience of tap water and table salt. Neti liquid is not important regarding nutrition.
For these directions, I’ll rinse my left nostril first. If one nostril is stuffy but the other is clearer, start your rinse with the clearer nostril. I breathe through my mouth during the rinse. I lean my head over the sink.
I turn my head so my right ear is horizontal to the sink. I keep the tip of my nose slightly higher than my mouth. If my nose is too much higher than my mouth, then water will go down my throat. It’s okay during neti rinsing to briefly close your mouth to swallow your saliva. Keep the neti water pouring and your head in position during swallowing!
I put the neti spout about ¼th inch into my left nostril. I tip the neti so a steady stream of water enters my left nostril. The stream goes up into the sinuses. The water drains out the opposite nostril. I use about half the water in the neti for that left nostril. If needed, I add more water to my neti pot so I have a half-pot full for the next nostril.
I now hold the half-filled neti pot in my right hand. I turn my head so my left ear is horizontal to the sink. I keep the tip of my nose slightly higher than my mouth. I pour a slow, steady stream of water into my right nostril until the neti pot is empty. The water drains out the opposite nostril (my left nostril). I let it drain all the way out.
I still breathe through my mouth, as I turn my head so both nostril openings are down toward the sink. I close my mouth and exhale somewhat forcefully through both nostrils simultaneously. If a discharge feels stuck in one nostril, I might close off the opposite nostril and blow out the discharge.
Look at any discharge in the sink. If it’s clots of blood or pus, you may have a sinus infection. Wash the neti with hot water and soap. There’s no danger of rinsing several times a day, to assist with a common cold or other illness. Unlike nasal decongestant sprays, you can’t develop an addictive tolerance. For non-illness hygiene, rinse once in the morning and again in the evening. In addition to my twice-daily rinsing, I rinse after I’ve been exposed to airborne irritants.
MORE BREATH ALLIES
What else might relieve sinus congestion or sinus infection? In a Swedish study, researchers discovered that when their test subjects hummed just a single note, the subjects increased their sinus ventilation. Better ventilation means healthier sinuses. Try humming a few seconds each morning and evening. Intriguing, humm?
Snoring is often caused by nasal congestion. During snoring, the soft palate vibrates, due to partially blocked airflow. The following factors increase snoring: being overweight, drinking alcohol or smoking, or sleeping on your back. If you fall asleep in the daytime (while driving, working, etc.), see a medical doctor who can check for sleep apnea or narcolepsy. Those two conditions can be life-threatening.
To dramatically reduce the volume and frequency of snoring, sing for fun (off-key is fine). Singing firms flabby upper airway muscles. When those muscles are firmer, they’re less likely to hang down and vibrate.
Someone who snores could use a nostril strip or an expander that widen the nostrils. Breathe Right ® strips and similar strips (at drugstores) look like small adhesive bandages. The package directions show you where on the bridge of the nose to place it. Be sure to wash and dry your nose skin, before applying.
To reuse a nasal strip to save money, you need a piece of coated paper at least the size of a nasal strip. Postage stamps peel off coated paper. Playing cards may be coated paper. Very slowly peel the strip off your nose so its adhesive clings to the strip. Lay the strip sticky-side down on the coated paper. With your fingertip, rub over the strip, so it sticks firmly.
When you want to use the strip again, very slowly peel the strip off the coated paper so the adhesive sticks to the strip. A different method is to apply double-sided adhesive tape to the sticky side of the strip. Wear nasal strips, to wean off addictive nasal decongestant sprays or to breathe better.
A nostril expander (not strip) is the Nozovent®. You place it slightly inside the nostrils. See “Resources” for suppliers. The Nozovent® is plastic, washable and reusable many times. Some ear, nose and throat doctors offer reusable expanders customized to fit your particular nostrils.
TOUR YOUR BREATH
Take this tour at least one hour after eating so your stomach is not full of food. If you have spine pain, get professional advice before doing the spine “curl-uncurl” below. If you are able, please tour while standing; stand with feet shoulder-width apart. POSTURE:
Correct posture is not the rigid “military stance” flattened-out spine curves. Spine curves allow the body maximum functioning. Imagine you’re a puppet on a string, with a supporting string attached at the top of your head. Your weight is held up for you by the string. Fantasize reduced gravity.
A “Spine Curl-Uncurl” stretches back muscles. Think of your spine bones (vertebrae) as blocks stacked on each other. Bend your knees slightly. Bend from your waist. Let your arms and head dangle. Your upper body is “curled.”
Stack the block closest to the spine base onto the spine base. Stack the next block on top of the second block. Keep stacking each block, one at a time, onto the previous block. Finally stack your head on top. Fantasize roominess between blocks.
Lift your shoulders up toward your ears. Keeping them at this height, move them towards your back. From there, let them drop. Feel the stretch across the top of your shoulders. Drop the tension.
Bend your knees slightly. If you stick your butt out behind you, it strains the back and make less room for breath. So move your butt in the opposite direction. Slightly tilt the pelvis under your torso. High-heel shoes force the butt to stick out; choose body-friendly shoes.
This “Natural Breath” Technique can calm yet energize you and increase your breath capacity. Place one hand just below your navel. Imagine your belly is a balloon. Fill the balloon with your inhale; inhale into that belly hand. Exhale. Repeat a few times.
Place your hands onto the lower ribcage of your back. Fill your lower back ribcage, with the inhale. Exhale when you need to. Repeat a few times.
Place your hands on each side of your torso over your ribs. Inhale; feel the slight expansion. Exhale. Repeat a few times.
Now place your hands anywhere on your three-dimensional breath. For a few inhales, sense your front, back and sides.
Surf the “waves” of breath now. Place one palm on your belly. Place the other palm on your chest. Let your inhale start in your belly and then add the inhale in your chest. Exhale. Repeat a few times.
Keep your hands where they are, and include the lower back then the back of your chest. Exhale. Repeat a few times. Add the torso sides. Repeat a few times.
Explore the exhale now. Allow your exhale to begin at your chest and end with your belly. Inhale when you need to. Repeat a few times.
If you watch a sleeping baby or a very relaxed adult, look for this 3-D wave of breath. Anytime, gently bring your awareness to your natural breath. Use the touch of clothes to sense the three-dimensions of belly and chest.
To lessen PTS/DI or stress symptoms, start each inhale in your belly, as in the above natural breath. From that belly start, the rest of the natural breath will follow. Wear clothing loose around the waist to breathe fully. Think “belly.” Do a few seconds of natural breath here and there during each day. Soon your natural breath becomes automatic.
The previous and upcoming techniques can be done on an advanced level. Employ the BBMSW or self-hypnosis chapters, to help more of “lateralities” or personality areas participate. An advanced level can also be done via more repetitions.
“Pleasure with Breath” Technique
Many of us with chronic pain or PTS/DI have a pattern of noticing pain and being hyper-alert to the unpleasant aspects of the outside world. We might exclude the pleasant from our awareness. This pattern distorts perception, causing a flood of stress- and pain-inducing body chemicals. Each breath gives us an opportunity to safely sense pleasure. With practice, pleasure will become easier to sense.
Sit or lie down. If you lie down, put a pillow under your knees. Open your eyes, if you feel sleepy. Whatever way you’re breathing is fine. If your breath changes, that’s okay. Inhale and exhale whenever you need to.
On each exhale, notice how your breathing muscles let go. Exhaling takes no effort. Receive the relaxation pleasure of the exhale for several breaths.
On each inhale, there’s the pleasure of the oxygen. Your body starts to hunger for the oxygen. Inhale and notice the immediate pleasure of oxygen. For several breaths, focus on the pleasure of the oxygen. Now notice both pleasures of the exhale and inhale.
Commentary: You (or one personality area) might feel the exhale pleasure (muscle relaxation) more than the inhale pleasure (oxygen) or vice versa.
“Horizontal Breathing” Technique
This technique strengthens the low back and breathing muscles without using the neck’s muscles. Keep your neck muscles relaxed as you do it. The technique also reduces pain and anxiety.
Lie down on your back. Raise your knees. As you inhale, notice how your diaphragm pushes up toward the sky and against your stomach. As you exhale, the diaphragm goes toward the ground and away from your stomach.
During your inhale, slightly exaggerate the arch of the low-back lumbar curve. You might feel your feet pushing toward the ground, to slightly lift your low back. During the exhale, slightly flatten your lower back against the floor.
Do several repetitions. If your back feels no discomfort the next day, gradually increase the degree of arch exaggeration and flattening.
“Be Breathed” Anti-Technique
Do this anti-technique (even when you’re not feeling rebellious) anywhere; no one can tell. It will increase daytime calmness and muscle relaxation. When you’re asleep, your body breathes for you. For the anti-technique, let go of any effort with your breath. You are being breathed by that something (life force, nature, whatever you wish to call it).
Observe and feel the process of that something causing your breathing muscles to move and to relax. If your breath changes during this process, let that happen.
Commentary: This anti-technique is an active observation and sensing practice. It may expand your “cosmic consciousness” and makes a fine meditation.
“Imaginary Straw and Feather” Technique
This technique increases breath capacity and control. Read the mild versions below, so you can decide which way to practice.
Sit or lie down with knees raised. Pull your belly in as far as possible then thrust it out as far as you can. Do this a few times.
Now exhale completely out your mouth as you pull your belly in as much as possible. Immediately inhale through your mouth (like a short gasp) as you push your belly out. Repeat a few times.
Keep your shoulders relaxed for this next segment. What you’ll do in a moment is fill your belly, then your chest, and then your throat with air. Then you’ll exhale in a special way. These steps are done through the mouth not nose.
1. Exhale fully as you pull in your belly.
2. Inhale through your mouth with a quick gasp as you push your belly out.
3. Keep the belly air, as you inhale a little more slowly to fill up your chest.
4. Purse your lips and suck air (as if through a drinking straw) into your throat to fill it.
5. With pursed lips, very slowly exhale. Imagine a tiny feather is floating in front of them. Keep that feather aloft with your long exhale. Exhale the throat-air then the chest-air. Then pull in your belly as you exhale the belly-air.
6. Wait at least a few minutes (breathing normally) before doing it again.
If you felt somewhat faint or dizzy, do a mild version. Exhale through your pursed lips with moderate instead of gentle force, and exhale more quickly. Another mild version is to exhale a portion of your breath through wide-open mouth.
Options to imagining the feather:
* Imagine you’re blowing through the narrow mouthpiece of a wind instrument.
* Actually play a reed instrument.
* Sing a pitch on the vowel “ew” (as in “chew”) keeping your lips pursed.
HOW NOSTRIL DOMINANCE AFFECTS YOU
Throughout the day and night, each nostril takes a turn at being “dominant.” More air flows in and out of the dominant nostril than the other nostril. Such a “nasal cycle” happens each 25 to 200 minutes. Both nostrils are equally open around dawn, midday and sunset. Suppose one nostril is dominant a lot more than the other nostril? It may worsen blood pressure, heart rate, cancer, atherosclerosis, joint inflammation, intraocular (eye) pressure, learning disabilities, and emotional well-being (including symptoms common in PTS/DI).
Fortunately, it’s easy to purposely breathe through only one nostril for a minute or more daily, to help balance body and mind. Studies have shown with “alternate nostril breathing” exercises, the above conditions listed as well as asthma can be improved dramatically. Roger Jahnke, M.D. concludes that deep sleep comes more easily by breathing for a time via the left nostril.
Below is a simplified synopsis of the likely effects of nostril dominance or of purposeful single-nostril breathing exercise.
Nostril Dominance/Nostril Breath Exercise Correlations
Left Nostril Right Nostril
more open when right brain active………………………more open when left brain active
right brain hemisphere…………. increases activity ………………..left brain hemisphere
parasympathetic nervous system…increases activity………..sympathetic nervous system
deep and starts sooner…………...SLEEP………………………….. less deep, starts later
calms (anti-anxiety)….…………EMOTION…………………energizes (anti-depression)
spatial orientation………………...increases…………………………………verbal skills
spatial memory…………………...increases………………………………….logic ability
slows heart rate……………………HEART.…………………………increases heart rate
lowers blood pressure……………..HEART.……………………….raises blood pressure
dilates blood vessels………………HEART………………………constricts blood vessels
more strength per heartbeat………..HEART…..……………….less strength per heartbeat
raises intraocular pressure…………..EYES………………….lowers intraocular pressure
What if you’re dealing with imbalances that relate to the “left nostril” category and the “right nostril” category (for example, anxiety and depression)? You might do a few repetitions of “Single Nostril Breathing” (below) with the nostril that may ease the worst of the two symptoms. An excellent technique for just about anyone is “Alternate Nostril Balancing” below, which may improve brain hemisphere balance and communication.
“Alternate Nostril Balancing” Technique:
1. Block the opening of your right nostril without pinching the narrow nostril sides, by placing the pad of either thumb across the opening.
2. Slowly inhale through the left nostril.
3. Retain that inhale (hold your breath) 1-2 seconds, as you unblock the right nostril.
4. Block the left nostril with either thumb-pad. Now slowly exhale out the right nostril.
5. Slowly inhale through the right nostril. Hold your breath 1-2 seconds. With either thumb pad, block the right nostril. Now slowly exhale out the left nostril.
6. You just completed one “round.” After 3 to 5 more “rounds,” unblock both nostrils.
Commentary: See the aromatherapy chapter for alternate inhaling of aromas.
Instead of time’s seconds, let’s now use “count.” A count is your personal sense of time. In some techniques, I wrote “slowly” breathe. Your slow count might vary over time. Count silently.
“Return to the Present” Technique (for preventing or lessening a PTS flashback, or to orient a personality area to the present):
Block the right nostril. Inhale through the left nostril for a count of four. Hold the breath for a count of two. Block the left nostril. Exhale out the right nostril for a count of four. Hold the breath for a count of two. Inhale through the right nostril for a count of four. Hold breath for a count of two. Block the right nostril. Exhale out the left nostril for a count of four. Repeat rounds as needed.
Synopsis: Inhale left four; hold two. Exhale right four; hold two. Inhale right four; hold two. Exhale left four; hold two. Repeat sequence as needed.
Option: Simultaneously sense your same body side as your inhale then your exhale.
Option: sense your midline.
Option: use a calming aromatherapy with or without the other options.
Commentary: By simultaneously sensing a body side, you engage the whole body in a unique way. See BBMSW chapters. An aroma engages your present-moment sense of smell.
“Single Nostril Breathing” Technique:
1. Block the nostril you don’t want to breathe through; slowly inhale and exhale through the other nostril. Do 5-10 rounds (inhale-exhale = 1 round).
2. End your session with 1-3 rounds of “Alternate Nostril Balancing.”
Option: Do as before and add awareness of the body’s same laterality (left nostril + left side or right nostril + right side). In a different session, as you breathe through the single nostril, notice your body’s opposite laterality. Which way worked best for you that day?
Option: Add inhaling an aroma compatible with that single nostril’s effect. See aromatherapy chapter.
Breath retention (holding the breath) can create helpful effects. Retention can be after the inhalation or the exhalation.
To energize yourself and decrease depression:
After you inhale, hold four to six counts. That short inhale retention (count of four-six) may increase the oxygen consumption and metabolic rate up to 52%.
A long inhale retention may lower oxygen consumption and metabolic rate by 19%. To calm yourself and ease anxiety, do a long inhale retention from six counts up to a comfortable maximum capacity.
Do you often breathe shallowly and hold your breath due to fear or depression? I suggest you don’t do long retentions, until you can routinely inhale deeply and fully (as in the “Natural Breath” technique).
Combine breath retention with the alternate or single nostril breathing. If done for relaxation, inhale six counts, hold for seven counts, and then exhale six counts. If done for energizing, inhale four counts, retain two counts, and then exhale four counts.
The slower the inhalation and exhalation = the more calmness (anti-anxiety).
A long retention = calmness (anti-anxiety).
The faster the inhalation and exhalation = the more energy (anti-depression).
A short retention = energy (anti-depression).
“Breath Cleansing” Technique (to boost alertness or ease depression)
1. For a few moments, sense your current breath. Sense degrees of shallowness or depth.
2. Vigorously exhale out both nostrils, pulling your belly in as you exhale. Let your inhale (through nose) quickly fill your lungs.
3. Repeat step 2 about 5 to 10 times.
4. Inhale deeply and hold it for a comfortable length.
5. If you’re not perspiring or fatigued from the breath cleansing, if you wish you may repeat steps 3 and 4.
Commentary: This technique is traditionally called “cleansing,” since oxygen and perspiration are natural ways to encourage the body’s cleansing processes.
Here’s anther version of breath cleansing. On the inhale, quickly raise and extend your arms straight up over your head and spread your fingers apart. This arm position (slightly raising shoulders) may let the upper lobes of the lung fill up more completely.
Breath ratios means the inhale length compared to the exhale, and the length of the pause before the next inhale. Ratios may influence body and mind in various ways. Some people state that a ratio goal is a short inhale, an especially long retention, and a moderately long exhale. For instance, “Alternate Nostril Balancing” with the ratio 1 (four-count inhale) : 2 (eight-count retention) : 1 (four-count exhale). That is a 1: 2 : 1 ratio. Certain people aim for a more advanced long-term goal of the ratio 1: 4: 2.
The breath-ratio theory is that as a person utilizes oxygen more effectively, a less long inhalation is needed. Advanced yoga practitioners, meditation adepts, or superb athletes have been observed to naturally breathe with such ratios. It’s possible that practicing an exercise with a longer exhale than inhale count creates relaxation.
Instead of getting attached to breath-ratio goals, let’s notice breath process. Next time you feel emotional or physical discomfort, observe (don’t change) the breath ratio. Time the ratio (seconds) or count. Rate the degree of discomfort from 1 to 10 (10 being the worst you’ve ever experienced).
Whenever you feel a different degree of that same type of discomfort, observe the ratios again. Are they the same or different? Experiment with ratios when you practice “Alternate Nostril Balancing” or “Single Nostril Breathing.” If a certain ratio makes all of you more comfortable, use it.
If you practice a suitable breath technique, you’ll get some degree of almost-instant body-mind benefits. At first, the benefits might last anywhere from a few minutes to hours. With daily breath awareness, those benefits can last longer and be stronger.
Play with breath exercises to decrease your need for herbal or prescription medicines. Let’s say you’ve been taking the right dose of the herb Kava. Your depression has eased considerably. You start practicing anti-depression breath techniques. You feel even better. You try reducing the Kava dose, to save money. If needed, you increase the dose.
DOING AWAY WITH HICCUPS
A hiccup is a spasm of the diaphragm, often caused by irritation of the gastrointestinal tract. Some folks with no excess stomach acid problem may get hiccups due to postural or muscle imbalances or anxiety. The hiccup remedy that’s worked the best for me, my voice students and health clients was my improved version of a remedy I read about decades ago.
Summary: sip water from the “opposite side” of a glass, while bending at the waist. By bending at the waist, your diaphragm is in a particular position. You're swallowing, without as much help from gravity as when you're upright.
1. Don’t talk; don’t move unnecessarily, until you’re done with this cure! At a sink that has a faucet, fill a drinking glass almost full with water.
2. Bend over the sink from your waist. Don't bend lower than a 90-degree angle to your hips. If you feel low-back strain, bend your knees slightly. Put the glass of water up to your lips.
3. Take small frequent sips from the side of the glass opposite your body. So you sip from the side that’s opposite from the side you usually drink. Sip small, frequent amounts. If your glass water-level gets too low, fill it with water from the sink faucet. If the hiccups occur more frequently, then sip more frequently. As the hiccups slow down, sip less frequently.
4. When the hiccups have been gone at least thirty seconds, don't sip for at least thirty seconds. If still no hiccups, slowly stand straight.
5. Wait two-three minutes. If no hiccups, slowly turn. Slowly walk away from the sink.
If hiccups begin again, do the same technique but wait longer before slowing the rate of sips.
Suppose at a different time you sense that hiccups might start? If you’re sitting in a straight-back chair or standing, bend slightly from the waist. To keep you upright at this bent angle, let your back muscles work more than your torso’s front muscles. Inhale frequent brief breaths as often as you need. But keep each inhale brief. If you feel a hiccup impulse start, swallow (with no water).
GENERAL EXERCISE AND PTS/DI
People in chronic pain, depression or anxiety might not smile very often. Facial muscles can atrophy or become imbalanced. The first exercise is to purposely smile, to strengthen facial muscles and induce mood-lifting body chemical and nervous system responses. After smile exercise, retain any degree of a pleasant emotional state and a slight smile, if possible.
This retention of pleasant emotion is different from an unhealthy repression of grief (depression) or fear (anxiety). If you can’t retain the post-smile pleasantness without tensely repressing grief or fear, then let go of the pleasantness for now. Smile exercise is not meant to encourage falseness or emotion repression. Rather, it’s for muscle exercise and possibly a boost of mood-balancing body responses.
For a minute or so twice daily, make a large smile regardless of your thoughts or emotions. Make the smile for a few seconds; let it drop. Repeat throughout the minute or so. If it’s difficult, start with a smaller smile. If a small smile is difficult, consult with a biofeedback technician who’s trained in “smile therapy.” With audible or visual biofeedback, your muscles may relearn the skill.
Other Body Regions
Here are exercise gems you might not otherwise encounter. For more exercise information, see “Resources.” Are you limited to lying down or sitting in a chair, or greatly dislike exercise? A common incorrect saying is “no pain, no gain.” The truth is there are practical reasons not to do exercise in such a way that increases pain. Pain may signal that physical and emotional damage are being done.
Some of us with PTS/DI or chronic pain at first have difficulty knowing when a sensation is a warning sign. We might be hyper-sensitive and misinterpret safe sensations as “pain.” There are scientific reasons why we may initially feel confusion about body signals. But we can quickly learn to accurately discern.
A few of the benefits of correctly-done exercise include:
* reduction of pain, depression and anxiety
* reversal of age-related cognitive decline (improving memory, learning, etc.)
* reduction of excess body fat
* increased bone density (less osteoporosis risk)
* improved function of the cardiovascular and other body systems.
If you’re dealing with a serious physical condition, consult a physical therapist or certified fitness trainer for tailor-made exercises. If you’re having acute symptoms (such as a fever), or recovering from surgery or injury, get your health professional’s opinion before doing exercise. When in doubt, do less. If the next day your body gives you positive feedback, then do slightly greater activity.
Let’s meet exercise’s trio: flexibility, strength, and aerobic fitness. Flexibility is a muscle’s ability to stretch (lengthen) and contract to best fit a task. Strength is a muscle’s power. Aerobic fitness develops when large muscle groups (e.g., back, legs) move for at least 20 minutes, at an intensity which increases the metabolic rate. The heart and lungs increase the transport of oxygen, blood and other nutrients. The aerobic activity needs to be done 3-5 times weekly, to best develop aerobic fitness.
Some trainers say the “aerobic target rate” pulse is 180 minus your age; for a 40-year old, it’s 140 heartbeats per minute. A trainer might suggest buying a heart-rate monitor. Or each 10 minutes during exercise, take your pulse for fifteen seconds and multiply by four.
But a monitor might be expensive and inaccurate. The age-based target rate might not fit each individual. I suggest this aerobic self-monitoring option. Use at least your back and legs for at least 20 minutes, at an intensity so you breathe faster and deeper but not so you’re out of breath. You should be able to speak an average sentence on a single exhale.
Aerobic: puff, puff “I think this an aerobic rate for me.” puff, puff.
Not aerobic: puff, puff, “I-” puff puff “think-” pant pant “this speed” gasp puff.
Not aerobic is being able to speak 3 or more long sentences on each exhale.
Hatha yoga (body movements and poses) might seem to merely enhance flexibility. But to support every pose, muscles are active. When poses include large muscles and breath awareness, then aerobic fitness increases.
What’s the best exercise? The one you’ll do! Pleasant sights or music during exercise can motivate us. If lonely, consider activities where other people are within sight. Limited income? Consider activities that don’t require expensive equipment or fees. Limited time? Sneak exercise into everyday tasks (e.g., climb stairs instead of ride elevators).
Breath exercise, smiling and massage provide some degree of exercise benefits:
Flexibility is increased since breath muscles are more fully stretched and contracted during breath capacity-building. Strength is increased by breathing and support muscles’ activity. Aerobic fitness may occur since torso muscles, heart and lungs are active.
Smiling prompts the body to produce more healthy substances. With adequate amounts of these substances, the muscle movements might not need to be as active in order to create flexibility, strength or aerobic fitness. From smiling, the brain and nervous system have shifted more toward a sense of well-being, which improves circulation. Better circulation = warmer muscle. Warmer muscle = more flexibility range and strength capacity.
Massage therapy has been shown to increase circulation and muscle tone, decrease pain, depression and anxiety, and provide other physical and emotional benefits. The massage style that I consider most suitable as an aerobic exercise adjunct is “Swedish massage” (strokes toward the heart, done with lubricant).
Regardless of your physical condition, you can exercise whichever muscles you can voluntarily move. You can also allow someone to move regions of your body for you. Passive movement assists circulation, muscle tone and flexibility.
Emotional Comfort and the Hidden Power of Gentle Exercise
You’re in control of your exercise. Consciously affirm that fact. For instance, say aloud or silently, “I’m safe. I decide how far to stretch my leg.”
If you have a physical condition that limits your muscle actions or perception, affirm a helpful fact. Examples: “I’m safe as I let my therapist move my leg.” “I’m safe even if my arm shakes.” “I am courageous enough to learn about holistic self-care.”
I and some other health professionals believe that even gentle exercise (tai chi, slow walking, etc.) can potentially bestow as much of certain benefits as does vigorous exercise. Some people who never fulfilled the scientific requirements of pre-conditioned “aerobic exercise” displayed remarkable aerobic fitness. They did slow-style tai chi, meditation, conscious breathing or other practice. They could haul heavy loads and briskly walk up steep mountainsides or perform other aerobic feats.
Science proves we can build muscle size and strength by “mentally rehearsing” an exercise; neural pathways are activated and body structures can respond. If you can exercise, mentally rehearse during it. See the self-hypnosis chapters for tips.
Roger Jahnke, O.M.D. describes that if we are exercising while in “adrenaline mode,” potential benefits of the exercise are cancelled out by the stress. By mentally relaxing during exercise, I suspect the parasympathetic nervous system is engaged. I think it’s then likely that oxygen nourishes the body more effectively.
Vigorous exercise offers the most benefits if you’re in a non-competitive state of mind. You can even do so-called competitive events (e.g., running contests), as long as you practice cooperation with your body-mind. It’s not worth a piece of metal (contest medal) to regularly ignore body needs and signals.
Try an experiment. Measure your current exercise performance (e.g., pounds lifted, miles run). For 4 to 6 weeks, practice pre-exercise relaxation (see other chapters) for at least five minutes. Keep relaxed as much as possible during the exercise. Measure your daily performance. Jot down any benefits (e.g., “last night slept better”). What do you notice after 4 to 6 weeks?
Making Up Your Own Exercises; Manual Labor as Exercise
Whether you’re pushing a barbell or a vacuum cleaner, approach your labor as exercise. How might you avoid injury and feel better? Warm your muscles by doing pre-exercise stretching. Apply a hot water bottle or other heat over your heart, drink hot liquid or take a hot shower. Warm blood then pumps to your whole body. You can warm muscles with a few minutes of mild level aerobic activity (e.g., walking around briskly). Warm muscles stretch and respond better to strengthening and aerobic exercise. If you have a joint or muscle condition, this warming is essential to avoid pain.
Then it’s time for stretching. Do not bounce or jerk a muscle during a stretch! Such a mis-maneuver strains the muscles and joints. How might you design stretches? Many muscles attach at a joint. Gently stretch the muscle in its natural direction. For example, you could lie on your back and bring one leg up toward your chest with knee bent. Ease the muscle to its everyday limit then ease a little further. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
How do you know if the sensation during a stretch is a warning signal? Often described by my health students, “A correct stretch is the good kind of hurt not the bad kind.” With time, you’ll discern between the pleasurable safe stretch versus the unpleasant warning pain. There’s evidence that safe stretching (e.g., during yoga poses) increases pain-relieving endorphins. There may be times during rehabilitation when even the usual flexibility range hurts significantly. Here’s where you need a health professional to guide you. The willingness to work with healing pain springs from the self-loving impulse to physically recover.
Suppose you’ve warmed then stretched the muscles you want to “aerobicize” and strengthen. Favorite aerobics include walking, water exercise, and dancing. If you can’t do typical aerobics (e.g., walking, swimming, dancing), move what you can. Do deep natural breathing as you move up to twenty minutes. Maybe you only manage two minutes the first day. See how your body does with thirty seconds more each time.
Walking is safer on the joints than jogging. A suitable walking shoe has an ample toe box, a low yet supportive heel cup, and flexes at the ball of the foot. Breathable mesh and leather or leather-like durable material is worthwhile. A joint-gentler walking surface in town is asphalt not concrete. Asphalt is an easier surface than a soft surface (such as grass, sand, loose dirt, wood chips).
If you walk on a soft surface, pay attention to your feet and ankle movements. Walk a little slower than you would on asphalt. To increase workout intensity, take quicker but short steps, to reduce the risk of strained muscles or joints. Avoid getting chilled from sweat-soaked clothing. Wear one or more layers that you can take on or off during aerobics. Whether you’re walking or dancing, have at least one foot in contact with the ground and avoid joint-jarring jumping.
Water exercise is an aerobic option (unless you have a skin infection or open wound). You don’t need to know how to swim. Do you have arthritis, fibromyalgia, Raynaud’s or other challenge that makes on-land or cool-water exercise problematic? I recommend exercise in a warm-water pool: 83-96 degrees F. See “Resources” to find a warm-water pool.
Warm water exercise warms muscles and does remarkable things :
* Body weight is 33-90% less in water than on land. Muscle and joint stiffness is less. Buoyancy increases motion ease and range.
* Circulation is increased because of graded hydrostatic pressure from the most to least submerged body regions.
* Water is 12 times more resistant than air, increasing movement work. More body fat is burned. Water exercise works opposing muscle groups.
Suppose the pool water you want to use has significant chlorine? To reduce skin irritation, here’s a tip I learned from a public-pool maintenance professional. Right before entering the water, shower and saturate your body skin and bathing suit for a couple minutes. When the skin pores and suit are saturated with tap water, they won’t absorb the pool water nearly as much. Shower after being in the pool, as well.
If the pool has cool water and your body get too cold (due to diabetes, anxiety, Raynaud’s, etc.), take kava and/or valerian 30-60 minutes before entering. See the herb chapter.
It’s helpful to eat a small snack about 60 minutes before any exercise. The snack needs to contain some protein and complex carbohydrates, so muscles can build and blood sugar can stabilize more easily. See the nutrition chapter.
Regardless of the aerobic activity, spend a couple minutes easing up to the fully aerobic level. After the workout, do a “cool-down” milder activity level. Do you want to follow aerobics with strength-building (such as weight-lifting)? After strength-building, stretch a few minutes.
An effective sequence is:
3. easing into maximum safe aerobics, then cool-down
4. stretching OR strength-building followed by stretching.
Gyms offer hand-held weights and machines for building muscle strength. You have an at-home option. Check out your pantry’s exercise weights: food jars or bottles or raw fruits and vegetables. Your receipt has the weight of the produce “price per pound.” Weigh the item on a bathroom scale or compare the item with a known weight. You may have other weighty household items.
You could put items in a sturdy sack with straps; hold the straps to lift the sack.
To exercise by holding a handle-less item (e.g., a pound jar of nut butter), you need a good grip, to avoid dropping the item as you sweat. To increase hand traction, wear rubber or latex gloves.
Strengthen muscles by pushing on a pillow. Pull on something that won’t pull apart (e.g., thick towel, sturdy belt) as a “resistance” exercise. Another resistance tool is an exercise elastic band (available at sporting goods stores). You might buy the least resistant (easiest to pull) band. As you get stronger, increase the resistance. For example, place your hands closer together on the band and pull the band.
* Warm your muscles.
* Keep the joint slightly bent.
* Correctness of the movement protects against wobbling a joint out of alignment.
* Beware the dreaded incorrect “sit-up!” For a correct back-protecting sit-up, lie on your back with knees bent and arms at your sides. On the exhale, keep the back and neck aligned, extend your arms and hands, bending at the waist. But only take the torso one-third of the way up or even less toward the knees! If you bend farther, low back muscles strain the low back curve. Do sit-ups slowly, preferably during the exhale. Pause, inhale then repeat sit-up.
Instead of sit-ups, you can sit or stand for a “Natural Breath” variation. Don’t do it if you have a full stomach, excess stomach acid or other condition where pressure on your low belly is unwise. Do the Natural Breath (above) as usual but put one palm on your belly just below your navel and the other palm on top of the first hand. Exhale slowly while pushing mildly against your belly.
Resist the hands’ pressure; exhale slowly. You’ll feel torso muscles doing “resistance” exercise. Stop pressing for the full inhale. Do 5-10 repetitions. Gradually increase your hand pressure and/or the number of repetitions. Even if you injured your low back, you might be able to do this back-strengthening exercise, since it doesn’t require waist-bending.
Transforming manual labor into back-protecting, effective exercise:
* Rely on your “Natural Breath.” Adequate oxygen reduces the lactic acid that makes muscles sore. Breathe deeply even if it seems you’re not doing much (e.g., typing).
* Move with your center of gravity, even for tasks that appear to involve only your arms or hands. Your center of gravity is at your Center Chakra (Figure 3). While vacuuming, for example, don’t bend way over at the waist. Bend your knees so you don’t have to bend as far from the waist. “Walk” the machine with you in the desired direction.
Suppose your manual labor is mostly sedentary? When driving and turning the wheel, allow your motion to subtly begin at your Center, move through the upper body, down your arms and into your hands. World-class athletes and martial arts experts let motions come from the center of gravity.
* Bring your Center to your task. Squat, crawl or lie on your side if necessary to get close to your work.
* Do the most strenuous part of the work on the exhale when torso muscles are firmer.
* Take a stretching opportunity. For instance, when driving, each hour pull over, get out and stretch for one-two minutes. Those couple minutes pay for themselves many times over, with alertness and fewer injuries. See “Resources” for stretching information.
If you can’t find stretching information for your type of manual labor, choose information for the activity that comes closest. The information you seek is “ergonomics,” “occupational safety” or “body mechanics.” Note the location of sore muscles and joints. Gently stretch those muscles.
* Wear safety and protective gear. For instance, a “waist belt,” which protects the back during weight lifting, can be found at businesses that provide gear for weight-lifting and at building supplies and hardware stores. What sport or profession requires a solution similar to your labor? Ask store clerks.
VISION AND PTS/DI
We can exercise little muscles, as well as large muscles. Some styles of vision therapy teach a person to strengthen, stretch and more fully relax the small muscles of the eye that affect vision. Thus, the learner (who has or doesn’t have PTS/DI) reduces or even eliminates the need for eyeglasses.
A stressful environment can cause blurred vision, among other symptoms. Anxiety, physical pain, depression, fever, cough or extreme cold or heat can also blur vision. It’s possible that you might have temporary PTS/DI symptoms arise during the first few vision therapy sessions. As you practice, symptoms likely soon diminish.
Why might PTS/DI phenomena come up during eye exercises? My current hypothesis is that during the trauma, your eyes were active. You might have been looking in a certain direction or area of the visual field. You may have been utilizing focus, depth perception, and other visual abilities. The eye muscles might store trauma-related “body memory.” Even if your eyes closed during the trauma, your mind visualized about the trauma.
Daily, we move our eye muscles frequently. PTS flashbacks or personality area switching does not occur with each eye movement. But during vision therapy, we pay attention to vision factors. For instance, we might stretch the eye muscles to their natural comfortable limit. These stretches bring more awareness to the muscle. With awareness could come needed releases of psychological tension.
Another factor is the moving of our eyes across the left and right sides of the visual field. In my BBMSW and self-hypnosis chapters, I explain how the left and right sides are related to PTS/DI phenomena. Also see the previous endnote. We can use vision self-care or professional vision therapy for healing PTS/DI as well as improving eyesight.
I suggest you do calming affirmations for vision exercise. Don’t schedule anything for the hour following the first few vision therapy sessions. That way, you can easily assimilate what you felt and thought.
If you have PTS/DI and require eyeglasses, what was your eyesight like before, during, right after, and long after the trauma? Bring your written details and the eyeglass prescription record copy with you, to your vision therapist. You may find your holistic self-care accelerates vision progress.
At times, a person’s different personality areas initially have different eyesight capabilities. If you require different eyeglasses for different personality areas, I strongly suggest you try vision therapy. With practice, your areas may be able to more effectively use your eyes, brain, nervous system and the rest of your body. All of you may reduce or eliminate your need for eyeglasses.
Here’s a true story about my vision therapy and PTS/DI.
Decades ago, when one of my personality areas was newly emerging, I began having “cross-eyed” muscle spasms regardless which personality area was active. The newly-emerging area had severe vision, hearing, cognitive and speaking challenges. That area had dissociated early in childhood to a blind, deaf, and autistic-like inner world.
I went to my first vision training session with my vision therapist. I told her about DI. “My personality areas will probably switch during our sessions. There’s nothing you have to worry about. I’ll tell you how to best communicate with me – such as simplifying your vocabulary or talking slower. Some of me is new to being able to hear, so I might look at your lips to know what you’re saying.”
Though she’d never had a client with DI before, the vision therapist was very at ease about my special needs. With a glowing smile, she said, “I work all day with all kinds of people who have physical and mental challenges. And I work with babies all the way up to the elderly. I’ve been doing vision therapy for years – and I love it!”
During sessions, the therapist calmly adjusted her teaching style to fit the comprehension level and abilities of whatever personality area was active. I still recall the thrill of consciously sensing my little eye muscles exercising. To feel them getting stronger and more flexible was remarkable. I felt empowerment and the joy of discovery.
Within days, my vision improved dramatically. I did not have to try to suppress the emerging personality area in order to see well.
See “Resources” to learn more about vision self-therapy. If you interview a potential vision therapist, notice how she or he responds when you describe PTS/DI.
Note to vision therapi