In the latest issue of Real Simple, there’s an article on breathing exercises. When we’re feeling stressed or anxious, or when we’re just swept up in manic day-to-day responsibilities, the author tells us, we often take short, shallow breaths or even hold our breath completely.
I was skeptical at first, but then I spent yesterday (a particularly stressful day that involved much job-market gnashing of teeth) and today (much less stressful but filled with minute responsibilities) observing my breath. I hold my breath ALL THE TIME. I also clench my teeth. I’m surprised I don’t keel over and swoon, Victorian heroine style.
[Really, not many Victorian heroines swoon.]
So I’ve decided to take a few moments a few times each day to observe my breath. This is all very yoga class. I’ve also started to lull myself to sleep by taking long, deep breaths that, supposedly, are exercising my diaphragm and inflating my stomach with peace, love, and fuzzy lambs. All good feelings. The article recommended that, while breathing in, I think of a positive word or circumstance, and while breathing out, I expel a negative feeling. This is supposed to stop the whirling whirling stress madness that keeps many of us awake. The author recommended that I inhale “peace” and exhale “stress.”
This is not specific enough for me. I would prefer to inhale Arby’s roast beef sammiches (literally and figuratively) and exhale that jerkface who didn’t put away his grocery cart at Randall’s this afternoon. Or maybe I could inhale a vision of me getting that-one-job-I-really-want and exhale November’s rent. Inhale a Houston day less than 80 degrees. Exhale the Roach: Texas Edition that greeted me when I came home last week. (Make that half-a-roach, as the cats discovered it first.) Of course, thinking this much about the positive things I’m inhaling and the negative things I’m exhaling defeats the purpose, and in my typical manner of aggressive organization I start to sort and tally the negatives and positives in the brightly colored fileboxes in my brain, all purchased at the mental equivalent of The Container Store. How many roast beef sammiches would balance out, say, a snarky comment from a strange woman at the bookstore?
The breathing thing is important, obviously, and supposedly boosts your immune system and improves blood pressure and therefore heart health. But for now, I think I’ll have to stick to my old method of falling asleep: reading until the words start swimming.
Now I really want a roast beef sammich. Mmmmmmmmarbysroastbeefsammich.