In June of 2009 I was fortunate enough to attend Vinn Martí's Soul Motion workshop at Esalen in Big Sur, California. Soul Motion is a way of consciously exploring dance with relation to community, energy, and the world around and inside of us. One of the things that Vinn was constantly asking during the workshop was "How are you being breathed?"
Fast forward to last week, and I was experiencing some severe back pain. I have a tendency to hunch in weird positions as I paint or write, and only when I get up after several hours do I realize I've strained a muscle. My lower back was hurting so much that I couldn't sit in any position for more than thirty minutes or so. Then one day I was answering email on my laptop and accidentally clicked on my archives which contained an email from Vinn sent after the conclusion of the Soul Motion workshop. I thought to myself "How are you being breathed?" and realized I was tensing so strongly against the pain that I was making it much worse. The moment I relaxed into my back instead of steeling myself against it the pain lessened. I continued to remind myself to breathe and relax throughout the day, and by the end of the week my back was up to snuff again.
Mixing it up is not just about challenging the big questions in our lives, or about making huge changes. It's also about recognizing the small, day to day ways in which our thinking gets stuck. I was deeply stuck in the thought of "My back hurts. When will it get better? What if I really hurt myself?" When I took a moment to think something different the pain began to subside. I was hurting myself more than the initial strain ever could have with my stuck and fearful internal monologue. By breathing consciously and noticing what I was doing to myself, I made it possibly for my body to heal.
So today, mix it up, and ask yourself: "How am I being breathed?" There is no judgement involved, only a chance to notice what you are doing, and an opportunity to change it!