One for the Road



Pick a tool.  Any tool.

See I’ve learned it doesn’t matter how many supportive tools are in your toolbox;  honestly, it’s about identifying one that resonates and then test-driving it via self-coaching.

When I was in the early stages of mind-body learning to overcome chronic pain, I decided my first self-coaching tool had to be easy so I’d stick with it. (Cue holding my breath while pondering amassed tools.)

While mightily exhaling (with my ribcage sitting on my hip bones) it dawned on me I could probably benefit from a “breathing” tool. I mean, I had to breath to live anyway; might as well start with the breath to potentially heal.

I gathered a handful of techniques from breathing experts (Dr. Weil, opera singers, astronauts….) and committed to trying one for about 15 minutes a day to see what I noticed.

This personal challenge felt easy enough and I stuck with it.  Soon I’d taken bits and pieces from those respected sources and crafted my own “breathing tool”.

As time has passed I’ve added in more tools and resources to my healing repertoire; however, my practice is built on a sturdy foundation – a breathing tool.

My basic process is to:

  • Find a place to be alone and uninterrupted for roughly fifteen minutes.
  • Lie down on my back with a small pillow tucked underneath my head.
  • State out loud: “This time is for me. I AM okay in this moment. I surrender to that which supports me. I trust.”
  • Begin to breathe.  Regular ol’ breathing.  Nothing fancy.  In and out breathing.
  • Notice how the breath naturally deeps and the exhale gets longer.
  • Follow the air as it bathes my nostrils, turns a corner at the top and exits my mouth. (A cycle.)
  • Imagine a golden loop being created after each breath cycle. Every loop joins the previous one to form a link. A breathing chain grows.
  • Sometimes I count the breaths (loops) on my fingers.
  • Continue breathing for several minutes.
  • Notice my body relaxing deeper as I surrender to the floor.  The body knows exactly what it needs and responds organically.
  • Invite my jaw to relax and watch in curious response how my teeth separate and tongue floats.
  • Shift attention to my lower belly where it softly balloons on the inhale and pulls back against my spine on the exhale.
  • Imagine sending  breath to any uncomfortable areas, and encouraging them to expand. In the beginning, this was challenging, but seeing it as “play” took the pressure off.  Doesn’t it always!
  • Imagine painful parts are capable of breathing in love and ease.
  • Hear Mind yap about all the other things I “should” be doing right now instead of lying down.
  • Say hello to Mind.
  • Imagine gently turning down the volume to Mind chatter and tuning in to the sound of breath.
  • Return focus to low belly.
  • Recognize the body and breath as one slow and gentle rhythm.
  • Dance with breath and Mind until I feel done.
  • Open eyes, gently stretch, and slowly stand up.
  • Express gratitude for honoring myself with self-kindness.
  • Move on with the day.

I enjoy many rewards from this one tool, such as:

  • Develop “mad” awareness skills and observe areas of my body where I habitually hold tension.
  • Locate strong and subtle physical sensations in tense/painful /uncomfortable areas.
  • Witness significant bits of stress, anxiety and tension release from my body.
  • Dial down the fight/flight/freeze response; returning to ‘rest and digest’ mode.
  • Experience personal FLOW.
  • Awareness that breath is available to me always. (So Empowering!)
  • Feel centered, aligned and balanced.
  • Relaxation, spiritual growth and positive health transformations.
  • Shift from a place of pain-focus to self-discovery.

And drumroll please……..

  • Appreciate significant pain reduction. BONUS!

I didn’t start out believing one tool could support me so beautifully.

I thought I needed loads of tools and would have to use them all daily to experience health improvements.

Turns out I was wrong.  Thankfully a part of me knew less was more.

The breathing tool is my chassis – ‘the frame’.

These days I’m the ‘Driver of my Well-being’ in this vehicle I call my life.

Hope you don’t skip the trip!  Pack one for the road!  (Tool that is.)

(Want to bring along your whole mind-body toolbox?  Perfect.  Plenty of room in the truck.)

Trust that “Integrate Interstate” is just up the road.   You’ll see the sign, it says:

“Highway to Possibility; Next Right Turn.”

I’ll look for you there!


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2 Responses to One for the Road

  1. Mary Candelaria September 11, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    What a powerful tool! I just went through your process on a road trip, and feel so connected/integrated with myself! I really love having clear, concrete steps! (By the way, I wasn’t the driver)!

    • Rebecca Hampton September 14, 2015 at 7:49 am #

      Mary, So thrilled to hear you read the blog and tried the process<3 I'm a 'step' gal too. XOXOXO

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