A Deeper Breathe – from Constriction to Expansion

Nov 22, 2017

A Deeper Breathe – from Constriction to Expansion

Do you take time in your day to notice your breathing? When you do, what do you notice?
Is there ease and flow there, or does it feel effortful, tight or constricted? If you keep your focus there for a few minutes – what changes? What’s different?

So much of our physical reality is, thankfully, automatic – your heart keeps beating, you don’t have to think about digesting your food. Your breathing is like that too, however there’s the world of difference between the automatic breath, that is often shallow and constricted, and a full, deep, easeful, breath.

Breathing is everything

Through the teachings of mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, we know now that the breath is everything. Not only is it the simple process that keeps us alive and a function of your autonomic physicality, but it’s also one function that you can intentionally influence.

Pleasure is as simple as a state of expansion

Lately, I’ve been thinking about pleasure as simply a state of expansion. Unlocking pleasure can be as simple as the moving from a state of constriction to a more easeful, flow – whither that be in the breath, your thoughts, or in your life in general.

Awareness is the first step to change. Notice the constriction. Often, we live with it, in an unconscious way. We don’t stop to attune to ourselves and notice how uncomfortable it is – whither the constriction is in the breath, your thinking, or in a habitual pattern of living smaller than your capacity.

But the breath is simple – it’s just there for your noticing at any moment.

In the somatic focused therapy, I do, I keep attuned to the breath – my own and the client’s. A shift in the breathing is as good an indicator of what’s happening as anything else. As fear, pain or difficult experiences are moved through and renegotiated, the breath changes. It moves from constriction to a more expansive flow – a bit deeper and slower. With that increased oxygen, a generalized expansion happens and we experience that sense of settling, a sense of aliveness, increased capacity and with that a feeling of security.

Most people on reflection would name this as a pleasurable!

I invite you to notice your breathing and more than that, take moments to attune with yourself and notice your state of constriction or expansion – how does that show up in your body? In your psyche, your energy?  And notice if there’s an impulse towards expansion – it can start with the breath, a simple allowing it to slow down and go a bit deeper, but it can also be allowing the fear thoughts and holding to soften. Question that holding – Is it really true that I need to be holding myself tight right now? Is there really a danger present? Turn your attention to something enjoyable, that catches your curiosity. Dare I say even your delight?

And notice what happens? And let me know – I want to hear what’s different? What happens next!

Next entry: Be a Light in Your World

Previous entry: What is the story you’re telling about pleasure?

Madeline combines her experience as a gifted teacher and facilitator with her exquisite sensitivity to guide us into unlocking pleasure. In her gentle way she helps us to make friends with our bodies, softening the places where we feel resistance, shame and pain and learn how to tune into the myriad sensations of pleasure. She embodies her teaching and the expression of her own pleasure is contagious. Madeline creates a safe space to (re)discover that we are wired for pleasure and can overcome the negative conditioning of fear, trauma, and messages of “not good enough”.

Ingrid Schirrholz, – Senior Faculty. Pathwork Vermont, Burlington, Vermont