Monday, May 23, 2011

Breathe with awareness

I've been dipping into "The Happiness Trap" by Dr Russ Harris, and I'd like to share a couple of paragraphs about the importance of breathing. It sounds odd doesn't it; but as I said the other day, breathing with awareness can assist beneficially in all sorts of difficult situations.

Russ is talking about a client whose husband and child died in a car crash and how waves of sadness wash over her which trigger a strong desire to drink heavily. She eventually finds that remembering to take even one deep breath can make a difference. "It gave her a few precious seconds to realise what was happening. Then she could make a conscious choice as to whether or not she would act on that urge."

Sometimes she still chose to drink heavily, but over time, she found that by remembering to be aware of her breathing, she was able to make more decisions to drink less (which she knew wasn't helping her recover). Eventually the desire had less control over her, and she felt more in control of her life. She was still extremely sad, but not overwhelmed and out of control with heavy drinking.

Further on he talks about what to do when you're in a crisis.

"No matter how bad the situation you're in, no matter how much pain you may be suffering, start by taking a few deep breaths. If you're breathing, you know you're alive. And as long as you're alive, there's hope. Taking a few breaths in the midst of a crisis gives you valuable time to get present, to notice what's happening and how you're responding and to think about what effective action you can take. Sometimes there is no immediate action to take. In this case, being present and accepting what you are feeling is the most effective action."

I suspect that many people who are suffering from PTSD can relate to the situation above. I really like the last two sentences; "Sometimes there is no immediate action to take. In this case, being present and accepting what you are feeling is the most effective action." It sounds simple, but it may not be easy.

Tidal River. Wilsons Promontory. Victoria.

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4 comments:

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

I really needed this reminder. Thanks for this post, Sue. How often we forget the breath that keeps us alive and can offer peace.
xoRobyn

sue said...

Robyn, I love how these reminders are so empowering. Reading your comment has also helped me slow down. Thankyou!

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