I just read an article in the May/June 2011 issue of Psychotherapy Networker about "heart" in therapy. It turned my thoughts to how important breathing is. It is lifegiving in more ways than one. The author, Patrick Dougherty, and I both learned about breathing meditation in martial arts classes. In that context, breath is the way we increase our energy (chi), heal our bodies, connect with our spirit and ground ourselves for a clear view of the world around us and within us.
Breathing works the same way in therapy. Focused breathing is a preferred treatment tool for depression, anxiety, phobias, stress, trauma recovery and compulsions of any sort. You can train your heartbeat to slow down as you breathe slowly. Your heart and breath are one. There is no doubt that clamness and clarity go together. Deep, rythmic breathing opens your lungs, your body heals, your mind expands and your heart opens.
What does an open heart do for you? As a therapist, having an open heart lets me feel compassion. It allows a loving connection (not romantic love but respect, acceptance and concern) that I believe makes therapy work. So much of life's troubles come from a closed heart - rejection, abandonment, fear, anger, disrespect and acts against one's spirit. An open heart builds trust because it is authentic, vulnerable and lifegiving. All of us need the experience of being welcomed by an open heart. When my clients learn this tool, they can open their hearts to themselves to create compassion for themselves and to see themselves clearly, humanely. I have seen my clients improve their mood, their mind, their health and life circumstances - just by breathing. So I'll close with a reminder for you.
"Keep beathing. It works".