“I can hardly breathe!!!” Angela stated, as she came into my office for her first visit. I hardly expected her to understand what a check-IN entails or why it would benefit her. In fact, for most people “checking in” is often associated with travel, rather than a SELF-CARE opportunity.
However, for me a check-IN, is a way to observe our sensations, thoughts and feelings in real time. In the months that followed, not only did Angela’s check-IN’s become more grounded and present, but the impact extended to her physical well being, feeling more at ease, energetic and hopeful both in her personal and professional life.
The first part of the check-IN brings attention to your breathing. I practice it both with self and clients daily.
“PROTECTIVE BREATHING” (Ron Baker).
This tool helps interrupt the habitual breathing patterns, when we feel overwhelmed, anxious, stressed or fearful. Our breathing habit becomes:
short, shallow and restricted.
#1 Imagine holding a baby. Your intention is to calm her down.
Place your hand on the abdomen and begin to inhale through the nose.
Pay attention: send the breath down towards the hand. Can you sense your belly go in and out?
#2 As you exhale, open your mouth wide and send the breath out to a point in the far distance.
#3 Continue doing this for 1-2 minutes. Repeat daily.
The benefits: The breathing check-IN is like giving oneself an interior massage: restoring calm, balance and informing your autonomic nervous system, the threat is gone and you are safe.
This tool is especially helpful when you feel triggered and out of sorts. Give it a try. After completing the exercise, notice if anything feels different? Calmer, more centered… What did you learn about yourself?