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  • Writer's pictureLauren L. Murphy

Thin Space No. 60: Practice Makes Practice

The Question

What do you practice?

 

The Intention

Persist

 

The Meditative Moment

It comforts me greatly that yoga is referred to as a practice. It’s a thing you return to over and over again, not to perfect, but to experience. Building on yesterday’s meditation, one thing that can happen as you begin managing anxiety is that it spikes. Your body and brain are so used to being on high alert that they doesn’t trust any of the practices you might begin. Meditation and breathwork can be particularly challenging because they move you from the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) to the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Your body starts to relax, and your brain says, “NOOOO! Chaos is coming! Threats everywhere! Panic NOW!!!” It takes practice for your brain and body to relearn that you are safe, that breathing deeply is not a threat, that rest is necessary. Begin small. Take time for three breaths today. Deep inhale through the nose; deep exhale out the mouth. Notice resistance. Try not to judge yourself or your instincts. Keep breathing through them. Tomorrow, try five breaths. The next day, two minutes of intentional breathing. (If exhaling out your mouth doesn’t work for you, simply take deep inhales and nice, long exhales through the nose. Or a combination of mouth exhales and nasal exhales. See what works. In other words: practice.) Maybe eventually you build up to five or ten minutes. If you practice these breaths when you aren’t overwhelmed by anxiety, then the next time the panic shows up, you can draw on this exercise and your body and brain will trust the breath instead of fighting it.


Waves crashing

Originally sent September 29, 2023, to paid Substack subscribers. If you want to receive current Thin Space reflections, you can start a paid subscription here: https://laurenlmurphy.substack.com. You can choose to pay $75/year or $8/month.

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