A breathing exercise to help with polarity

“‘I have polarities, rhythms, and diffrerences within me. I have parts that have not talked with each other for some time.’ That is the extent of the understanding necessary in this stage of healing.”

-Donald M. Epstein, author of The 12 Stages of Healing

In Donald Epstein’s model of healing, Stage 2 specifically addresses the notion of polarity as a human experience. The highs and lows, joy and sadness, abundance and loss. This dynamic balance of opposing but complementary and interconnected forces exist in every aspect of life, and can often be tumultuous on the human psyche. Recognizing and aknowledging the dualities that you experience is the first and most important step in easing your stress. Breathwork is a valuable tool to help you be present, and to process every stage of your healing journey. Here is an exercise to help:

1) Overlap your hands, so that the palm of one is laid on top of the back of the other.

2) Put your hands on your upper chest, just below your collarbone. Take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on just breathing into the area where your hands are. Notice how it feels to breathe into this part of your body.

3) Now inhale into the area closer to where your stomach meets your ribs. Notice how it feels to breathe into this part of your body.

4) Move your hands down so that they are just below your belly button. Breathe into this area. Become aware of how it feels to breath into your abdomen.

5) Put your hands back on your upper chest and take a deep breath. Alternate taking a slow deep breath from your chest, to your belly button, and then into your abdomen. As you are breathing, say out loud: “I have different parts. I have different rhythms.”

6) Notice the difference in these three parts of your body. Notice the same sensation (relaxation, pain, etc) is not equally present in all three. In which area is the sensation stronger? For example: Is the sense of peace you feel when you breathe into your upper chest stronger that the sense of peace you feel in your abdomen? In which area is the sensation the least strong?

7) Put your hands at the part of your body that has a stronger feeling and say: “This rhythm is stronger.” Put your hands on the position that feels less intensity and say: “This rhythm is weaker.” Repeat three times.

8) Alternatively which area feels the most comfortable to breathe into and which area feels the least comfortable?Alternate between those two parts of your body, saying “I have parts that I like and parts that I don’t like. I have parts that are great and parts that are challenging. But they are all me.” Repeat.

9) Notice how it feels to connect and be present with the different parts of your body. Notice how feelings change simply by accepting them. Just by being aware of the good and the bad feelings, you may have a stronger ability to get less hung up on the bad feelings.

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