We all need to take time out to relax. Whether we simply sit outside in the garden or on our building stoop and close our eyes for 10 minutes, or learn how to relax our bodies so we can release physical tension during the day, or before sleep, learning to appreciate and implement a short, useful relaxation/meditation exercise and incorporating mindful breathing can be very beneficial.
Our Busy Mind – The Worry vs. The Concern
We all go through phases when we have something on our minds, whether it’s a big work project, a decision to be made, illness in the family or anything that can preoccupy us for a time – this is CONCERN. Concern is reasoned and purposeful; it involves a cause and effect mind debate that allows us to seek solutions.
However, when we are experiencing stress, then all the little things can and do become big things. Suddenly your mind is racing, never quiet, and it’s all negative. We begin to worry – about work, deadlines, relationships with staff/bosses, job security, etc. We worry about family and what will happen if I lose my job? What will happen if I/we have to care for a mother/father if they don’t get well? What if something happens to one of the children? This is WORRY and logic is not part of its makeup! Worrying involves wishing that you could change the past (which you can’t), or imagining catastrophe for the future (which may never materialize). You can also waste a lot of time & energy having imaginary conversations with people (what you wish you had said during that argument, what you would say if you got the chance)meanwhile, we are physically tensing up and preventing ourselves from relaxing and being in the moment with family, friends or colleagues. Your mind becomes a washing machine on the spin cycle, with everything jumbled up, spinning round and round, getting more tangled and confused.
Learning to relax can really help with clearing the mind and it’s hard to believe, but we all have the ability to control our thoughts. You don’t have to let your thoughts run wildly away on you, having the ability to stop this confusion & repetition by simply telling your brain that you don’t want to think about it anymore. Learning a relaxation technique, whether it is visualization, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation or something as simple as a breathing exercise, will all help to calm your racing mind.
Even Mia Farrow knows how the simplicity of blowing bubbles can transend language and culture barriers in her endeavors.
Relaxation techniques can often focus on breathing exercises. Slow & deep breathing can have an extremely calming effect on the body and this process also encourages you to focus specifically on your breathing so you don’t dwell on other potentially stressful thoughts. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia advocates the use of bubbles to relax children before a medical exam or procedure. If a child is unable to engage in slow deliberate breathing on his/her own, adding a bubble wand to the exercise may offer the stimulation he/she needs to participate. If necessary, turn the bubble blowing into a game to see who can make the largest bubble. This encourages the child to maximize her control over her breath and remain focused on just the bubble, this basic and simple activity may lead to a less stressful health-care experience.
Children and adults alike may enjoy the recreational act of blowing bubbles and bubble wands and solutions are widely available and inexpensive (or a good old solution of water and dish soap). While blowing bubbles is entertaining for many people, it also provides some fantastic health benefits. You will more actively engage your lungs and respiratory muscles when blowing bubbles and this activity naturally stimulates your breathing, which can benefit some health conditions and is known to provide both a psychological & physiological improvement.
Removing That “Stale” Air
When you blow bubbles, your mouth, lips and respiratory muscles engage in a style of breathing called “pursed-lip breathing.” This is characterized by a narrower mouth opening and also resembles the type of breath you use to blow out candles. A “pursed-lip” exhale more thoroughly expels the “stale” air in your lungs, leaving room for fresh inhaled air and better circulation in your respiratory system.
A simple Adult breathing exercise is below:
- Release Your Thoughts Exercise –
This simple breathing exercise will help you to re-establish calm breathing. It’s a great “quick-fix” exercise to get you through a stressed moment or an emotional situation.
Sit or lie in a quiet room with your eyes closed. Visualize your thoughts as a mass of bubbles and exhale slowly through your mouth. As you do this, imagine all those thought bubbles being blown away; you will already begin to feel more relaxed.If there is a specific thought or issue that you cannot stop thinking about, imagine a large bubble blowing up from your head. Visualize a “word” written across the bubble that represents this issue or specific thought. Then imagine taking a huge needle and bursting that bubble and see the “word” melt away in the mist created by the bubble bursting. Imagine yourself saying “I will not waste any more energy thinking about this now, I cannot solve this today. I am putting it aside and allowing myself to relax”.
So now pay attention to your breathing. Breathe deep, in through your nose in a long, steady breath. Feel your ribcage expanding out on either side, and lifting up – your lungs are two balloons that you are filling with fresh, clean air. Now breathe out slowly and evenly through your mouth, feeling your lungs empty and your ribcage slowly drop.
Stay clear and focused on your breathing and if your mind wanders, use the bubble bursting visualization and bring your attention back to your breath.
Stay with this exercise for as long as it is comfortable for you. When you’re confident and able to induce relaxation easily, you will be able to use it anywhere, whenever you might need it.
I took the time today during a stressful afternoon to go outside and breathe deeply while I blew bubbles that the wind carried down my street. With each deep breath, I let go of stressors and wished blessings and support to a dear friend in need after losing a lifetime friend and wished joy for the impending birth of my new nephew soon to arrive. I took the time to listen and watch the joyful reaction of those walking the street below me, wondering where the bubbles were coming from, and to see just how far the wind would carry them.
I closed my eyes and took a breath and blew…and smiled as I realized I had found a place of peace and relaxation once again. All with the simple task of blowing bubbles in the wind – see blowing bubbles is not just for kids.