Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Breathing ... One Of Those Important Little Things!

We can survive on average, before brain cells start to die or the body begins to die, 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.

Think about the things we do to keep ourselves healthy - we pay attention to our food and drink but we often forget the breath. Breath in the short term can have the most subtle affect on our health, but in the long term the effects are profound. Pay attention to your breath.

The average person - 25 % lungs with each breath! Some much less even. Swami Gitananda maintained that people today use less than one-tenth of their breathing capacity! If we breathe into only 25% (or even less) of our lungs’ capacity with each breath, then we are breathing in only a quarter the potential life-giving, live-sustaining, vital energy each and every moment.

If we look into the various breathing patterns of creatures in nature, we see some interesting parallels between breath and behavioural characteristics. For instance, those creatures that are easily excitable (quick to jump, or edgy) breathe with higher rapidity. A mouse takes 50 breaths per minute and a monkey, a cat and chicken all around 30. The horse takes 16 breaths, an elephant 10, and the most immovable of all creatures, the tortoise a mere 3 breaths per minute! When we consider longevity, the maximum lifespan of a mouse is but a meagre 3 to 4 years compared to the elephant which lives on average for 70 years. The lifespan of a tortoise is 193 years!

A healthy person breathes on average 21,600 times per day - 15 breaths per minute.

That number can vary from anywhere between 11 or 12, up to a distressing 20–24 breaths per minute in the most unhealthy of individuals. How about you?…

Exercise 1 – How many breaths per minute Get yourself a stopwatch or get someone to time you for sixty seconds. Breath normally as you would, don't try to deepen or lengthen your breath as in meditation. Count your breaths for one minute. How did you do?

"Evolved human beings have a very calm breath. Normally you breathe fifteen times a minute. If you breathe ten times a minute you’ll be very energetic. If you breathe five times a minute you’ll be very intelligent. If you can breathe one time a minute you will become invincible. The power of breath should be under your own control." Yogi Bhajan

Our breathing is too shallow and too quick. We are not taking in sufficient oxygen and we are not eliminating sufficient carbon dioxide. As a result, our bodies are oxygen starved, and a toxic build-up occurs. Every cell in the body requires oxygen and our level of vitality is just a product of the health of all the cells. Shallow breathing does not exercise the lungs enough, so they lose some of their function, causing a further reduction in vitality. We need to breathe more slowly and deeply. Quick shallow breathing results in oxygen starvation which leads to reduced vitality, premature ageing, poor immune system and a myriad of other factors.

Why Is Our Breath Fast and Shallow?

There are several reasons for this. The major reasons are:

1.Hurrying - Our movements and breathing follow this pattern.
2.Stress - modern living makes us breathe more quickly and less deeply.
3.Emotions - We get too emotional too easily. We get excited easily, angry easily, and most of the rest of the time we suffer from anxiety due to worry. These negative emotional states affect the rate of breathing, causing it to be fast and shallow.
4.No need - Modern technology and automation reduces our need for physical activity. There is less need to breathe deeply, so we develop the shallow breathing habit.
5.Pollution - We are working indoors more and more. This increases our exposure to pollution. As a result, the body instinctively inhales less air to protect itself from pollution. The body just takes in enough air to tick over.

The Effects of Shallow Breathing

1.Reduced vitality, since oxygen is essential for the production of energy in the body.
2.Increased disease. Our resistance to disease is reduced, since oxygen is essential for healthy cells. This means we catch more colds and develop other ailments more easily. Lack of sufficient oxygen to the cells is a major contributing factor in cancer, heart disease and strokes.

With our 'normal' sedentary way of living, we only use about one tenth of our total lung capacity. This is sufficient to survive and just tick over, but not sufficient for a high vitality level, long life and high resistance to disease. The ancient yogis knew the importance of correct breathing and developed techniques not only to increase health and life span, but also to attain superconscious states.

The Chinese have a saying, "The man who breathes to his toes will live to be 100 years old."

Exercise 2 – Breathing completely into the abdomen. Lie comfortably on the floor. Place your hands on your abdomen. Breath normally for a moment and see if you breath only into your chest or see if your belly rises with each breath. Spend a few minutes now breathing deeper, allowing the lungs to push down causing the diaphragm to drop and the belly to push up as you breath in. It should fee like a baloon expanding gently and then going down again. Breath into your belly then into your chest with each breath. This is the correct way to breathe. With practice it comes naturally, you'll be surprised how may don't do this already. We all far too concerned with holding our tummys in! How about you?

Importance of Breathing Through The Nose

The first rule for correct breathing is that we should breathe through the nose. This may seem obvious, but many people breathe principally through the mouth. Mouth breathing can adversely affect the development of the thyroid gland. It can retard the mental development of children. The nose has various defense mechanisms to prevent impurities and excessively cold air entering the body. At the entrance to the nose, a screen of hairs traps dust, tiny insects and other particles that may injure the lungs if you breathe through the mouth. After the entrance of the nose, there is a long winding passage lined with mucus membranes, where excessively cool air is warmed and very fine dust particles that escaped the hair screen are caught. Next, in the inner nose are glands which fight off any bacilli which have slipped through the other defenses. The inner nose also contains the olfactory organ-our sense of smell. This detects any poisonous gases around that may injure our health.

The yogis believe that the olfactory organ has another function: the absorption of prana from the air. If you breathe through the mouth all the time, as many people do, you are cheating yourself of all this free energy (prana). The yogis say this is a major factor in lowered resistance to disease and impairs the functioning of your vital glands and nervous system. Add to this the fact that pathogens can enter the lungs via mouth breathing, and you can see that it's impossible to be healthy, not to mention vital, if you breathe through the mouth. It is easy to break the habit of breathing through the mouth. Just keep your mouth closed and you will automatically breathe through your nose!

Exercise 3 – Breathing through the nose. First spend a few moments just breathing in and out through the mouth. Then breathe in throught the mouth and out throught the nose. See how that feels. Then spend a few moments breathing in throught the nose and out through the mouth. Now try breaathing in through the nose and out through the nose. Feel the different qualities in the breath.

"When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath." Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Try just for a few moments each day to bring awareness to your breath. In times of stress it will calm you, in times of depleated energy it will revive you and in times of unbalance it will bring you back to your centre.

The Dreadess xx

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Full Moon Magick

Last night the fullest of moons adorned a perfectly clear sky. I approached this full moon with more than my usual excitement and it was almost outwayed by my nerves. I led a group of women in my first Full Moon Meditation. It was a success. The connections were there and the Goddess guided my words. It bodes well for many more.

The Dreadess xx

Monday, 17 January 2011

Cave Girl by Mae West

I found this a while ago. The Goddess Mae West wrote this poem when she was a mere 15. One of her first solo acts was also "The Cave Girl", after the parting of the ways for her and her vaudeville husband Frank Wallace. Life often imitates art ... I wonder if she saw it coming. The poem is surprising for her age and definitely a glimpse of her ability to sum up her thoughts on life in wit and rhyme. I love it.

Cave Girl by Mae West aged 15

I got my smile from the sunshine.
I got my tears from the rain.
I learned to dance when I saw a tiger prance.
And a peacock taught me to be vain.
A little owl in a tree so high,
He taught me how to wink my eye.
I learned to bill and coo from a turtle dove.
And a grizzly bear taught me how to hug.
But the guy that lived two caves from me,
He taught me how to love.

The Dreadess xx

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Be Careful of What You Wish For

Each difficult situation in our lives is an opportunity to learn. We can choose to be beaten down by these times or use them to temper our metal in our personal trials by fire. I've always been beaten down to a certain extent, wallowed a little in my own misery, then somehow risen out of the ashes not so much a soaring phoenix, but at least a more determined, stronger, occasionally wiser, if a little battered version of me. I guess we can always choose the easy option and avoid our learning opportunities in preference to a smoother ride, but often life has a way of presenting the same obstacles in our path time and time again until we kind of get it.

Well anyway, my teacher told me recently that I would have to experience a certain type of challenging situation to walk further down the path I have chosen. I faltered at the thought of it, hesitant because this type of thing could cost me an easy life for a while, perhaps friendships, even though it was right for me to call the situation to me. Then I made up my mind, this was ultimately what I wanted and I had to trust, so I put it out to universe and called it in, what ever it turned out to be. I basically said go on then, bring it on.

Within two days the most almighty situation had blown up in exactly the way it was told I needed it to be to learn this one thing. It was a problem that had festered, but came to nothing for months and months and then within hours had escalated to one huge quagmire of people and fragile emotions. What followed was many, many sleepless nights, days and days of worrying and sorting, culminating in me making myself really ill and exhausted over it, then it was over.

I just hope that was it. I hope I handled it right. I hope I learned what I needed to learn and that there isn't more to come. Whatever I did or didn't learn though, I was sorely reminded of this ... be careful what you wish for, you just may get it by the bucket load!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The Sniffing Of Things

I've always had a fairly good sense of smell which became even more so after I gave up smoking many, many moons ago, the day after I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I remember it hit me then how much more I could smell, unaware previously that it was deadened by bad habits.

In the past year it seems to have jumped up a notch again and I'm sensitive to smells that others can't detect or it takes a while for it to filter through to them. I've been noticing that different weathers have different smells and I don't just mean the smell you get after rain, I mean the smell before rain, the smell of sunshine, the smell of snow.

Anyway to get to where I'm going with this, I recently went for a mini wander at the edge of the wood alone on a dark moon. Because I was so visually impaired by the lack of light I found myself sniffing the air like an animal. Literally turning everywhich way and sniffing. I discovered that even turning my head just a few inches I could sense differences. It was like something switched on and my olfactory bulb went from 60 watts to 100 in an instant. I could smell individual trees, animals, the distant car fumes and unrecognisable smells. It was as though a whole new way of sensing my world had opened up. I could sense several smells at once almost like streams of different qualities. Like filtering out the separate smells that made up an overall composite one. So hard to put into words.

We rely so much on sight that I often think that our other senses are not as honed as they could be. We've all heard stories of people who can see colours through touch or use sonar location when vision is impaired, but it was as though for the first time I really understood in an experiential way that there is a whole other level to the senses we have. Visually I have learnt to see a little beyond what we think should be there or what we limit ourselves to seeing and I use intuitive sight but even that is very different to what I experienced with this heightenend sense of smell.

The weird thing is my brother had an amazing sense of smell when we were growing up. I remember when bags of clothes got handed on to us, as is the norm in the close religious community I grew up in, my mum would bring the bag home and he'd sniff it and tell her who it was from. He used to freak us out by being right every time, even though the freshly laundered hand me downs smelled of washing powder to us.

My son, like his uncle in lots of ways, also has an extreme sense of smell. Most children in the early years taste their world by putting everything in their mouth. Myster C sniffed everything and I mean everything. He could always tell which side of a glass you'd sipped out of. I even used to test him with tiny invisible dots of saliva on the side and he would sometimes even tell you what you ate half an hour ago if it was distinct like coffee, chocolate or garlic from the dots of nothing. He used to always make embarrassing comments about people's smells in supermarkets and on buses etc.

I get it now. I'm beginning to get an idea of what it must be like to have an awesome sense of smell. I understand why dogs want to just follow their noses. I went to the woods today and the smells were overwhelming. The smells of moss, rotting wood, undergrowth, bog, different trees and the air coming at me from all directions. It was exhillerating. I wanted to sniff everything, but held back because I wasn't alone on the walk. How could I explain that I wanted to put my face to the earth and breath deep. I managed the inside of a hollow tree at one point but it wasn't enough. I want more.

It's as though I can smell now a whole load of new things I've never really catalogued before. All these things must be sniffed and filed away. I have to confess that since I've been home alone tonight I've been indulging in the sniffing of things.

The Dreadess xx

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Walking The Path Of Merlin

Towards the latter half of last year I was guided by a dream to approach a particular gifted shamanic teacher to ask about being initiated into the Path of Merlin. I had only met this woman once, briefly, but knew of her reputation. I had the profound initiatory dream the night before I was booked in to do a days meditation session with her. Imagine my discomfort as I had to explain my dream and that I felt compelled to ask her and no one else for help. I risked that she labelled me a deluded wanabe, but instead she calmly informed me that she had only just recently thought to take on an apprentice to certain teachings that I spoke of and that she had been putting together a course of sorts for a while. Over the next few weeks we both had a quick succession of signs, for me sometimes ludicrous unmissable signs, that I was to be that pupil and she my guide.

The weird thing was, I had no interest particularly in Merlin's way until my calling and had absolutely no idea that this Grandmother Wolf Watching I'd been directed to tell about that calling had researched any of it at all, but it turns out that a better teacher could not be asked for.

So on Sunday 2nd of January I began what will be more than a years worth of learning at the feet of an excellent teacher. What an amazing way to kick off a new year. The Merlin architype was a shaman, prophet and magician of the highest order and is known to be a hard taskmaster. I am under no illusions of the committment this will exact from me. My first day was a twelve hour stint of note taking, journeying, dreamworking and some interdimensional forest stomping. Even within that first day we discovered that I've been on this path for a long time, there were signs in childhood and forgotten memories are beginning to unfurl and their relevance understood. The Path of Merlin lies dormant in me and in my heart burn's the Dragon Fire. It is apparently about to be reawoken.

I'm so excited, I can't even begin to describe it. I see the worlds with eyes more open than they've ever been and yet again my Metamorphosis Road has just turned an exhillerating corner into a whole new landscape. I can't wait for my next meeting with my mentor but till then I have been set tasks to complete within a moon. So I best get to it then.

The Dreadess xx

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The Beginning Was A Long Time Ago But This Is The Beginning Of This Bit

Hello you wonderous being.

I'm delighted you decided to join me on my journey into love, light, glitter and magick. It's a brand new shiny year and here you are with me ...

... and here I am ... a multifaceted creature with many a hat to prove it. I wasn't born The Dreadess. That would have been a shock to my parents. No ... I "became" over time and I believe it is still somewhat unnerving to my nearest and dearest.

I am pretty comfortable in my many hats now. I find myself in an exciting and beautiful place in my life, but still working hard transforming my inner landscape. I am a home educating mother, a crafty creatrix, a poetess, a love n light worker, a philosophical ponderer, a magical manifester of fabric fancies, a shoeaholic with barefoot tendencies, a goddess, a mantra mutterer and an avid joss stick burner.

So that's it. That's who I am, all mixed in together and this blog will be too. A glorious muddle of wordery as it happens, as I remember it, as I see it, as I learn it and as I think it. I want to tell you about the fabulous times and the horrid times, the things that make me laugh and the things that make me cry, the people who inspire me, the things that make me healthier and happier and above all the things that make me dance with pure spiritual joy.

I hope you find a little resonance here and hopefully some inspiration.

Go on, take my hand, dance with me a while. Lets see how high we can kick our heels.

The Dreadess xx

P.S I dedicate my bloggery to my wonderful friends