I have to say I never knew. I had no idea. I didn’t even think to challenge the way I thought. I didn’t know to challenge what I knew and how I knew it.
Man, what a fool I’ve been.
I’m kidding, of course. Sort of. Because I kinda feel like I have been a fool. But I mean “fool” in the nicest way possible.
But up until the last few months, I had no idea how powerful our minds really are. I had no idea that the brain is so powerful and magical.
I always swallowed everything I’d been taught and shown.
School. Doctors. Advertisers. Everyone.
I mean, I went to grad school for education – to teach middle and high school students. And I never truly learned about the power of the brain. Sure, I learned about supposed psychology and sociology. But I never learned this.
But I guess everyone can be excused because really tapping into the power of the brain is a relatively new concept in the Western world. Not in the Eastern world. No, they’ve been doing this for centuries upon centuries. But the western chose not to see. We were too busy testing drugs with side effects and arranging our school curriculum to serve corporations and for control. (I could go on about my beefs with the school system – both as a parent and a former teacher – but I’ll save that rant for another day.) In fact, I’ll stop going down the path of complaining about how I didn’t know information that is so vital to my happiness and to life in general. Instead, I’d rather shift to what I know now.
And what I know now is that all our minds are so beautiful. And powerful too.
For the last few weeks I’ve been practicing the Wim Hof breathing method just about every day. I breathe through 2 or 3 rounds and then I take 10-15 minutes to meditate. The breathing relaxes me and resets my whole day.
I usually breathe first thing in the morning. But not always. And today was a day I waited. And by about 10:30 in the morning, I could feel the anxiety buzzing around my head and the weight of sadness pushing on my skin. And it wasn’t from nowhere either. I have tons of shit going on in my life that makes it easy to become anxious and sad.
But I took the time to breathe for 2 rounds and then just meditate for about 10 minutes. And within about 10 minutes of finishing, my entire mood had changed. I was happier. And I was excited about moving forward with my life.
Just like that. Just that easy.
And there are many other breathing techniques that have been shown to produce very similar results. I get that the Wim Hof method is a bit too hard core for some people. But there’s also a breathing technique called the 4-7-8.
For the 4-7-8 method you just keep a steady beat and you breathe in (pushing the sides of your ribs out) for 4 beats, hold for 7 beats, and then exhale for 8 beats. Do several rounds of this and then draw in a deep breath and let it out. And that’s it. People can do this at any time and achieve immediate results.
There is also square breathing – breathe in for 4, hold for 4, and release for 4. And there’s a another one that involves breathing in and out rapidly through the nose – about 3 quick breathes per second. Do this for about 5 seconds of so. And yet another one that involves breathing in for a 1 count and then breathing out for 1, and then out for 2 and then 3 and so on until you get to 6 and then starting over.
Feel free to Google breathing methods and try them out and see which one or ones work best for you. Play around with it. you’ll be amazed with the results.
But I love the Wim Hof method because it taps into something deeper inside of me. And I am able to meditate right after, which is also very helpful.
In fact, meditation is another awesome way to tap deeper into our minds. And yet, the Western world scoffs at it.
I like breathing more because it is something I can control and know I’m doing it right. Meditation is more of a practice. And it takes a lot of practice.
I think that’s why a lot of people don’t meditate. I mean, some people just think it’s bullshit so okay. But others try it and can’t clear their minds and they can’t get free from the chatter in their minds so they give-up. But people need to stop being so judge-y with themselves. They need to practice self compassion. And they also need to understand that nobody (except maybe a handful of enlightened yogis) can completely clear their mind.
For me, it’s not about clearing my mind. It’s about observing my thoughts. It’s about recognizing that I am overseeing the thoughts. I am not the actual thoughts. And sometimes (at least for me) meditating is also about focusing my thoughts on one thing. Sometimes it’s my breathing. Sometimes its a memory or maybe a person or an event. Or sometimes it’s repeating a mantra over and over in my head. Yeah, my mind still wanders. I’m far from perfect and sometimes I’m horrible at what I’m trying to do. But I don’t care. I don’t judge myself harshly because of it. I’m human. But even more importantly, I’ve found it still helps me, even when I have a really “shitty” meditation.
And here’s the other thing about the mind: It’s connected to my body and my soul. They are not separate. They all work together and they all yearn to be in harmony.
I haven’t given this a lot of thought, but it occurred to me earlier that it’s very similar to the holy trinity – father (mind), son (body), and spirit (soul). I need to think about it a lot more. But I think there’s something there. I think…
And I also believe the mind and the soul is connected to something larger. I can feel it when I’m breathing and meditating. And tapping into that larger thing fuels my happiness and hope.
Anyway, I’m just starting to scratch the surface on how powerful the brain really is. I’m just starting to tap into within my own body. And I’m figuring out how the mind can make the body feel better and the body can make the mind feel better. This is the whole idea behind taking only cold showers. While it sucks sometimes, especially on really cold winter mornings, the benefits are obvious within seconds of finishing my shower. I feel invigorated physically and powerful and hopeful mentally and emotionally.
So, I’m going to keep digging into all this stuff and exploring and trying to go deeper within myself. And I’ll definitely blog more about it in the future.