“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
I have written previously written about breathing with awareness to the growing and shrinking shape changes of our body in relation to our breathing process. When we inhale we grow in our torso, when we exhale our bodies shrink. Today I will be looking at becoming aware of the meaning in moving …what are we saying without speaking, moving into our environment, and establishing our relationship with the “hidden dimension” of Space.
Full Body Breath
We are three-dimensional beings moving through the fourth dimension of time. A dimension has one spatial pull into two directions. Our three dimensions are, the Horizontal, the Vertical, and the Sagittal. When you add a spatial element to your breathing process, you begin to connect your specific body parts (inner) to the outer environment. While breathing with a spatial emphasis, notice how each dimension affects your feeling about yourself in the world.
Inhale feel yourself growing in your width, length and depth, by widening, lengthening and bulging. Exhale feel yourself shrinking in your width length and depth by narrowing, shortening and hollowing.
That is a lot of thinking to do, imagery helps – Inhale and see yourself growing into a big round juicy plum. Exhale and shrinking into a shriveled sweet prune. Do this a few times to establish the fullness of your body sensations.
Breathe as you would like to breathe. Notice how you feel now.
Horizontal breath begins with breathing fully into the paired bones of the body such as the ribs and the hip crests of the pelvis, feeling the shape of your torso grow. Extending the breathing process into your hands and out into the reaches of the sides of your body as you inhale connect with space. As you exhale and soften your breath, cross your arm towards your chest, enclosing and protecting your heart.
Inhale and widen both sides of your rib cage and extend your arms into space reaching out to your sides, taking in the world – exhale soften your elbows narrowing through your chest to bring your hands together in a prayer position in front of your sternum.
Breathing into your sides establishes the width or narrowness of your body and your sense of right or left sidedness. We give out and take in what we need to nurture ourselves, we offer, share and embrace in the horizontal. Hugging yourself, holding hands with someone, walking arm in arm, are all examples of relating horizontally.
If sitting or standing, breathe along your spinal column headward/tailward, then reach upward (toward the ceiling) into Space or downward into the floor. If you are lying down, breathe beyond your head into space or beyond your feet into space.
When sitting or standing this pattern helps to connect the inner shape-flow head/tail lengthening relationship to the outer up/down fall of gravity. Aligning ourselves with the pull of gravity is a force that we must attend to for life. A sense of being (becoming) or not being (disappearing) occurs in the Vertical. We become our best self or struggle with the burdens of life in the Vertical. Lengthening headward then reaching up to climb a ladder provides support to the movement, just as lengthening tailward, into your foot helps you to climb down the ladder.
Phrases such as “ Reaching for the Top” or “I feel really weighed down” indicate a vertical sensibility.
Sagittarius is the archer and a good way of remembering this movement direction (one arm extended forward and the other drawing the bowstring backward). Inhale to fill and bulge your body with breath and send the breath out into the space in front and in back of yourself. Shoot the arrow towards a target.
The underlying bulging and hollowing Shape-Flow depth support breath helps to create an awareness of the internal cavities of your body. Connecting with Space by breathing beyond our bodies, we sense our forward-ness and backward-ness. Inhale, bulge, reach your arm forward to open a door, exhale hollow step back, or lean back into a chair. We have a sense of getting things done or reflecting on our actions in the Sagittal.
Phrases such as “Take a step back” or “She’s a real mover” indicate a Sagittal sensibility.
Focusing on our breathing as a process of changing the shape of our body is a way of connecting internally so we can facilitate our sense of trust, intention and self- confidence. Thus re-establishing a relationship to ourself. The experience of receiving care, attention and love via the rowing and shrinking of our body helps us define our self-image. When we move into space we have an outer locus of focus, and a sense of who we are in the world.
When we extend our awareness of our body moving into space we create clarity in our movement. We support our thinking process and our sense of location. The underlying meaning of sharing in widening is manifest in embracing or offering actions to others and with others. Our sense of presence is enhanced when we stand up and are ‘counted, we intend to be seen or invisible we are grounded and connected when we establish a relationship with the verticality of gravity ’, When we we pay attention to where we are going and step back to reflect on our accomplishments we build self confidence because we can envision a path forwards and see our accomplishments when we look back.
Having an language that describes how and were we move in relationship to ourself and into our environment supports our understanding of our nonverbal communication – which is after all 80% of what we are picking up with our social engagement system from the hidden dimension of Space.
“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson