Cycling Breath Through Grief

I’m guilty of shallow mouth breathing during exercise. On a Monday in July, my indoor cycling instructor broke down the elements of proper diaphragmatic breath.

First, posture. Chest up, shoulders back, spine straight. No compressing the diaphragm by slouching. Release tension in neck, shoulders. Loosen grip the handlebars. Close the mouth. Count each pedal stroke.

In through the nose. I center my gaze on the handlebars’ height-adjustment-numbers in front of me as he counts. 1, 2, 3, 4.
Hold. 1, 2, 3, 4.
Out through the nose. My eyes travel down the adjustment numbers: 4, 3, 2, 1.
Hold.
After a few rounds, extend the exhale longer than the inhale.

It’s challenging to train the breath while feeling the exertion, pumping my legs, and attending to posture at the same time. The first few rounds are uneven. I need more air. I can’t hold the exhale. I open my mouth and gulp in air. Lightheaded, I stop the count. Jump back in. Stop. Restart. By the end of class, I’ve found a rhythm.

When I practice it, breathing diaphragmatically through the nose at a deeper and slower cadence improves my cycling performance. It boosts endurance. I’m less exhausted after.

I found myself naturally continuing the breath sequence outside of cycle class. Even and steady. In. Hold. Out. Hold.

 
Two days later, I received shocking news: My beloved cat Leyna was dead.

 

Grief hit.

I breathed.

In. Hold. Out. Hold. In. Hold. Out. Hold.

Each time a wave of sadness washed over me, I came back to my breath. In. Hold. Out. Hold. Fill belly. Allow belly to deflate. Because I’d been practicing, the breath flowed, along with the emotions. When I observed myself holding, I consciously inhaled deep and exhaled long. Let go of the distressing thoughts.

One day when grief was particularly strong, I stepped outside. Felt fresh air on my skin and the insides of my nostrils. “Leyna, I miss you.”

In.
A baby white feather floated down from the sky.
Hold.
I caught it on the tip of my finger.
Out.

I’m grateful for divine timing. That class was exactly when I most needed it.

Practicing the breath supported my grieving process. It was messy. Breathing didn’t take away the tears or the loss. But it made a difference. I focused on what I could control. I moved the energy through me with each breath cycle, each pedal stroke.

Women’s Wellness 11.1.19 – 11.3.19

My heart is full from the privilege of spending a weekend retreat in the redwoods with an amazing group of women. This experience fills and fuels me.

I’m grateful for everyone who attended and brought wonderful warm energy to practice Gratitude Writing on 11.1.19. It was a grounding way to kick off a wonderful Women’s Wellness weekend with self-care, connection, nature, kindness, and new experiences.

On Saturday afternoon, participants at Write The Story Of Your Life thought outside the box about their life visions. I was grateful to witness and hear about where attendees were on their various journeys. It was inspiring to see what was important to each person and to share in new insights and awareness.

Using the 3 A’s in Mindfulness Writing Practice

Here are some writing prompts to use in a daily writing routine. This practice can support you to attune with what is real, true, and present for you in the moment. Becoming present with body, emotions, and thoughts with equanimity is valuable for consciously living with peace and freedom from mind traps.

I am aware that
I feel _____________ (physical body sensations, emotions)
I think ____________ (thoughts)

I acknowledge these feelings and thoughts.

I free myself from ____________ (ex: judgment, denial, overanalyzing, desiring something different, trying to change reality)

I accept that these feelings and thoughts are present now.

The 3 A’s of Mindfulness with Unstoppable Women of Silicon Valley

Join me and some Unstoppable Women at Orchard Valley Coffee in Campbell, CA to learn the “3 A’s” (Awareness, Acknowledgement, Acceptance) and how to use them in a writing practice to cultivate self-awareness, resilience, well-being, mindfulness, and emotional freedom.

RSVP through Meetup:

The 3 A’s of Mindfulness

Saturday, Jul 20, 2019, 9:00 AM

We’re starting at Orchard Valley Coffee
349 E Campbell Ave. Campbell, CA

20 Unstoppable Women Attending

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn How will cultivating mindfulness change your life? In this workshop, learn the “3 A’s” (Awareness, Acknowledgement, Acceptance) and how to use them in a writing practice to …

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