Wonderwell and Just Breath

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

OCTOBER 04, 2017

Day three in this sanctuary. Again, I slept under a blanket of stars and awakened early. The pleasure then was in noting that I could roll over and go back to sleep instead of the usual jump up and start the day routine. We have breakfasted and are preparing to gather for a  morning's teaching and meditation from the wonderful head teacher here, Liz.

Yesterday was lovely. We had a long yoga and relaxation session with Pat Rogers who drove up from Boston to share her experience and skills and herself. Lunch, the famous tomato soup and grilled cheese, and then we spent the afternoon on the expansive back porch. The sun warmed us and we talked for hours and moved into journaling and then, eventually, into tea or wine. The staff her is beyond wonderful, and I think the right word is that we all feel "treasured".

For example, last night, instead of the usual delicious buffet, they set the long table with flowers and served us. There were bottles of wine on the sideboard, and the menu included salad (all delicious and fresh from their garden veggies) and carrot-ginger soup and stuffed squash and chocolate mousse, decorated with berries and chocolate-covered almonds. The food is fabulous, but it is the people who make it magical.

After lunch today, we will reluctantly return to our real lives. But we will leave as "Wonder Women", feeling strong and understood and close and, yes, treasured.

Pat shared this wonderful tip sheet re breathing exercises. I recommend them to you all. As she suggested, they are immediately available anywhere. She told a great story about being prepared for surgery. The nurse suddenly said, with mounting alarm, "Her blood pressure is very low and falling." She responded, sleepily, that she was doing her yoga breathing, and the doctor yelled at her "STOP IT!"



Extending the exhale breath to promote calm

Learning to breath deeply is easier when the spine is fully extended and the lungs are not compressed in a slumped seated position.  You can, however, do this breath lying down.

ADI MUDRA, hand gesture that promotes a sense of calm and feeling grounded.  Open palm, fold thumb into palm and then wrap fingers around thump and turn closed fist over resting on thigh.
Begin by noticing the rhythm of your own breath, taking several rounds of your natural breath.  

Then begin to count your inhales and exhales while trying to make them even…inhaling to a count of 3/4 and exhaling to a count of 3/4, take several rounds like this.

At the end of the next exhale, begin to EXTEND THE EXHALE…so if your inhale is 3/4, the exhale should be 4/5 breaths, or even more if that feels comfortable.  

Finally, after several rounds of extended exhale, PAUSE at the end of the exhale before receiving the next inhale, then continue with several more rounds.

ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATH,( NODHI SHODHANA) this breath brings balance to the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Begin with “Vishnu Mudra” make a fist of your right hand. Next, release the thumb and the third and fourth fingers, leaving the index and middle fingers folded against your palm .

Place the thumb against your right nostril and slowly inhale through the left nostril, then close off the left nostril with the third and fourth finger of your right hand.  Then release your thumb and slowly exhale through our right nostril.  Inhale through your right nostril and then close off the right nostril.  Lift your fourth and fifth fingers and exhale through  your left nostril.  Repeat the sequence on both sides for three more rounds ending with an exhale though the left nostril.  Do several more rounds when you are ready.  

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