What I Do in Crisis (6): Ujjayi Breath

(Video: 4:57min) Ujjaya breathing is a yoga breath that is fun to do because you can actually hear your self breathing! This is great for people who like to focus on sound.

Watch the video for instructions if you want them, and enjoy using this tool during stressful situations. I use it when I’m stressed and I want something else to listen to for a moment besides my speeding train of difficult thoughts.

Using ujjayi breathing a great way to stay engaged in the moment and to give myself some perspective… there are other things in my life right now than this upsetting thing that is happening… like my noisy breath!

What I Do in Crisis (5): Align & Relax

(Video: 4:40min) This is a very quick, body based practice that I do when I’m super stressed and want to regain equilibrium.

This is part of a much deeper practice that I learned from Will Johnson’s wonderful book, Aligned, Relaxed & Resilient. This version is simple enough to do in crisis.

First, inhale and let the breath softly lift your body up straight and tall. Second, exhale and let the body melt and relax into this gently upright position. Let the body slowly align itself, gently lifting and relaxing with each breath.

This is a great meditation practice to do at any time, and works best during crisis if you teach yourself how to do it first when you’re not stressed… Then in crisis you already know how it works and it’s just a simple matter of doing it.


What I Do in Crisis (4): Equal Breathing

(Video: 4:55min) Equal breathing is simply making your out-breath the same length as your in-breath. You don’t need to change anything about the speed or depth of your breath, simply notice how ever you are breathing and play with making your out-breath match your in-breath.

This is a great way to give yourself something simple to focus on besides whatever you’re upset about. The point isn’t to ignore the situation, the point is to help you stay engaged and calm down a bit at the same time.

Maybe you are having a fight with your partner. If you take a moment to focus on how you are breathing for a few breaths, you stay engaged in the situation and allow yourself the space to calm down a bit.

If you are a new meditator, you will be giving yourself a few seconds of focusing on something else within the situation that isn’t so upsetting, your breath. This will give you some perspective within the situation, you will immediately remember that there are other things going on within this situation, and you will start calming down. “My partner is yelling at me, and hey! I’m breathing!” A few breaths later, you will be a bit calmer and the situation won’t seem so overwhelming. If it does, focus on your breath a few more seconds, check back and keep repeating until you feel calmer.

If you have been meditating a while, you will be able to focus on your breath while focusing on what is upsetting you (at the same time). “My partner is yelling at me, and I’m also breathing really quickly.” Breathe into the situation. Listen to them and notice your breath as you listen attentively. Put part of them and part of your attention on your breath. Listen to them as you breathe in and listen to them as you breathe out. Notice that as you do this the situation gets less overwhelming.

Why? One reason is that focusing on breath helps you remember that whatever is happening is only one part of your reality, it isn’t all of your reality… there is this upsetting thing AND there are other things as well (breathing for instance). “I feel really upset AND I am breathing. Ah! There are other things going on in my world than being upset. There are other things in my life than this situation. There are other parts of my life.” Now that you have regained the perspective that there are many things in your reality, you can chose solutions from other parts of your life. You can bring in solutions and creative thinking that are not based in being upset right now. Now you have choices… do I put all of my energy and focus into being upset or do I put some of my focus and energy into thinking of solutions and feeling the different ways that I feel about this person/situation?

What I Do in Crisis (3): Progressive Breathing

(Video: 4:35min) When we’re really stressed our nervous system goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode & we start breathing fast & shallow. One nice way to help our system relax is to deepen our breathing.

If I’m really stressed, I can’t do that. I’m too overwhelmed to change my breathing. I will usually take a mindful breath , observing my (fast!) breathing & then when I’m a bit calmer I can play with my breath.

Progressive breathing starts with noticing my breath as it is and then inviting the next breath to be just a little bit longer & deeper. Just a tiny bit. I invite the next breath to again, be a tiny bit longer and I keep doing that bit by bit, until I’m taking much deeper breaths.

With this simple, subtle method, I gently encourage my nervous system to settle down pretty quickly.

Try it out & get good at it when you’re calm so that you already know how to do it when stress hits. As one client said, ‘build your parachute before you jump.’

What I Do in Crisis (2): 1 Deep Breath

(video 2:33 min) Taking one deep breath can help the body release stress during crisis. It’s a great way to release the pressure, a sigh of relief.

During crisis, I take one deep breath and use the exhale to literally blow out the stress. One deep breath works better for me than taking a series of deep breaths, because a series can feel like I’m forcing change in the middle of an already stressful situation… It’s just too much. One small change has a big impact. Trying to make lots of change gets overwhelming.

One deeper breath feels so good these days that my body almost does this automatically!


What I Do in Crisis (1): A Mindful Breath

(Video: 3:45 min) I spent some quality time this summer understanding what helps me when I’m really stressed.

This is the first in a series on what worked during those crisis moments. These tools are what I used when I needed to do something to gain composure versus blowup or meltdown.

This first one, a mindful breath, is a great tool for giving me some perspective without requiring too much of my already overtaxed system.

Broken to Joy: How to Recognize Resistance & Make Friends With It

(video) Resistance can be tricky to recognize… if it is working properly it is designed to distract you from the pain underneath it. How can you recognize resistance and how can you deal with it once you do? This video shows you one way that I’ve found works well.

What’s your experience with resistance and making friends with it?


Broken to Joy: How to Let Go, Part 2

(video) Once we’re ready to quit the cycle of denial and reliving our pain, we can acknowledge it and let it go… Oh happy day!
Here’s one technique that I use with clients for acknowledging pain – without denying or reliving.

What’s your experience?


Broken to Joy: How to Let Go, Part 1

(video) We tend to do a mixture of two things when we’re faced with something that we don’t like: we deny it and we relive it in our heads over and over. Neither of these are terribly helpful for letting go of the pain.

What’s your experience with these things?


Broken to Joy: How Patience Speeds Healing

(video) Patience helps lighten the load. You feel safer and more confident making change easier.
Frustration adds another layer of ick to work through.

What’s your experience with these two?