The breath can reveal a lot about how we are feeling. This spontaneous system of the body is fascinating. It is constantly performing in each and every moment in our day.
Not too long ago I was called in for jury duty. So, as you do, you make the necessary arrangements in preparation for being unable to work for potentially up to a week, if not more. As a small business owner this meant a fair few phone calls.
As I arrived at the court house, prompt for my anticipated day, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of other people also called in for duty. It was noticeable just how much everyone wished they were somewhere else. Every few minutes a person would approach the court desk to plea to be released from their voluntary service. We were then asked to wait for our number to be called.
Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Sometimes your number won’t be called but, in my case, my number came across the PA system. Then, closely followed by the statement “This is a child sexual assault. Please speak to us if you have any issue you need to discuss”. I was ushered into another room with the other people called.
We sat and listened.
What was required of us. What was not.
We were then taken into the courtroom where we were sat down in rows next to the alleged offender, his defence lawyers, prosecuting attorneys, judge and assistants. For those that may not have got to this stage in the process you then simply wait for your number to be drawn out of the box. It’s a lottery. Each number was called but mine. All of a sudden it was hard to breathe.
To my left was a man possibly in his late 40s and to my right a young lady who, I would say would have only been in her mid-20s. The man to my left was called. Then the lady to my right was called.
She stood up, walked across the room and sat in the next row of the jury. As time passed each subsequent female member of the jury was then “challenged” by the defence lawyer and thus had to return back to her seat in place of the next number called. There is a limited number of “challenges” the lawyer can make.
Then, before I knew it, the last number was being called and it wasn’t mine.
I took a spontaneous breath out through my mouth and looked down to see my hands were shaking. “Interesting” I thought. I also noticed the tension in my body. I don’t know for how long but I had been holding my breath.
Then they the defence lawyer challenged two more jury members and the young lady, that was sat next to me was returned back to her seat. As she sat back down next to me, there was an audible breath out under her mask so loud I could hear it.
Taking a sigh out with the exhale instantly releases tension and, as a result, may re-balance your nervous system.
Our breath is fascinating.
It is an extremely complex, spontaneous system of the body that performs each and every moment of our day all in response to our surroundings.
In our weekly meditations, I often bring our attention to the fact that, without even knowing it, your body continues to breathe; drawing air in and releasing it out. At times of worry, fear and anxiety, we may find that the breath changes, speeds up, becomes shallow and high in the chest. When we are comfortable, feel safe and happy, we may notice that our breath is slower, and in some cases, creating more movement lower down in the belly.
In essence, I think what matters most is becoming curious about your breath and how it changes in response to your surroundings. Once we are aware of this, we can then practice learning to slow it down or speed it up depending on our daily situations.
So as we return back to that courtroom.
Back to the young lady sat to my right.
By the sound of her breath, I knew in an instant that her body was attempting to reset. It had instigated and spontaneous sigh with the breath out. It was attempting to come back into a state of balance.
Maybe, just maybe, you too will notice the ways in which your breath will cleverly adjust and change to help maintain a sense of balance.
Not too sure where to begin?
Start by noticing how your breath changes. Notice how it flows when you are feeling relaxed and then again when you are feeling stressed. What is it like when you are tired and again when you are energised. What happens when you feel content or dis-contented.
These mini pockets of insight will begin to inform your connection with your own breathing and hopefully it may inspire you to be a little more curious about the breath.
Until next time.
(May you go in peace)