Tag Archives: inner work

Chuck’s Place: Belly Breath Beta Blocker

There’s nothing like a calm belly breath…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Beta brainwaves are active when we think, hence, they are the dominant brainwave of waking life. Typically, our consciousness is preoccupied  with an internal dialogue that operates semi-consciously, as it judges, categorizes, projects possibilities, and relives lived experiences.

The subconscious mind treats the mental scenarios generated by the internal dialogue as actual facts and prepares the body to cope with their impact. Hence, the mere anticipation of an upcoming performance might generate a fear, which triggers the release of adrenalin to gear up for the challenge, as if it were happening now.

The resulting constriction in the body is accompanied by shallow breath. In fact, if one observes one’s breath when engaged with the internal dialogue, one is likely to notice both shallow upper-chest breathing and modestly long periods of holding of the breath.

These breathing patterns reinforce to the subconscious mind the presence of a danger that requires a sustained state of anxiety. The subconscious does not think rationally, it acts, based upon the body sensations and mental imaginings it is presented with.

Cognitive behavioral therapy capitalizes on this dynamic of thought-generating feeling and behavior by encouraging one to consciously control one’s thoughts. Mainstream medicine may prescribe beta blockers, a class of drugs that control the impact of adrenaline on the body, particularly the heart.

Abdominal breathing shuts down the internal dialogue, as it introduces alpha brainwaves to the body. Alpha is a restful, calm, relaxed brainwave. When in meditation, alpha is experienced as a mindful state of presence that does not attach to sensations, feelings, or mental meanderings. In alpha, one consciously removes attention from the internal dialogue.

To consciously introduce alpha brainwaves via the breath, focus on the belly for the entire breath. Allow the chest and upper chest to remain completely dormant. Imagine the belly to be a balloon that you slowly fill up to capacity, hold, and then release. Abdominal breathing is also called diaphragmatic breathing, as the diaphragm pushes downward as the balloon fills up.

Specifically, count to the count of 8 during the inhalation, hold for the count of 8, then exhale fully to the count of 8. When you complete the exhalation hold the breath for a count of 4, then repeat the pattern, beginning with an inhalation to the count of 8.

This pattern of 8-8-8-4 can be repeated for as long as one feels comfortable. Notice the resulting shift in mental, emotional, and physical states. Of course, feel free to modify the count as needed to fit your comfortability.

In fact, just practice taking a deep abdominal breath or two at any time, and notice how it breaks one’s fixation upon an anxiety-generating thought, feeling, and mental state. Achieving this calm with the introduction of alpha waves can allow for a more useful contemplation than the unnerving mental activity of the internal dialogue.



Soulbyte for Tuesday January 11, 2022

Do not let old ideas stand in your way. Clear the mind of its old controlling mantras and turn to the wisdom of the heart for guidance. Fear will arise, but that is a natural reaction to breaking with the old self and old ideas of the self. Use fear as your motivator rather than your regulator. Release its held energy into your heart and from there let it boost your intent to change. Transformation is never easy, but it is completely worth it!

Sending you love,
The Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

Soulbyte for Monday January 10, 2022

Let not the thoughts in your mind take you far from your heart, for it has a tendency to want to dominate. Feed it positive thoughts to bring it more in alignment with the heart, which is naturally more conducive to positivity if you stir it awake and use it to guide you. A guiding heart is sure to show you a new approach to life, as a loving and compassionate tendency will being to arise as you stir awake the potential of your naturally positive heart center.

Sending you love,
The Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

Soulbyte for Friday January 7, 2022

An entire world can change by the good intentions and actions of one person.  Start small, first within the self and then in the world around you by applying what you learn as you do your inner work. To change the self is the first step in changing the world. And the first step in changing the self is to abandon the notion that you are special, deserving, or important. You are, however, a being who has the capacity to love, to be kind, and to be compassionate. Nurture those characteristics within the self and you will soon naturally be using them without, in the world around you. It’s never too late to change and to be the agent of change.

Sending you love,
The Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

Chuck’s Place: Within and Without

We are the drop and the whole ocean too…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

If we contemplate the oft-cited metaphor of an individual human life being but a drop of water in an ocean of its greater wholeness, we might come to another apt metaphor: Is the glass half empty or half full? Being half empty is the deflated perspective that a mere drop of water is so minuscule as to be essentially insignificant.

From this perspective it’s hard to imagine that anything we might do could possibly positively impact the greater world, especially in this time of such obvious great upheaval. A mere droplet of water could hardly reverse the tidal wave of energy impacting Earth’s many shores.

From the more optimistic glass half full perspective, we might appreciate the holographic perception of that drop of water as a fragment that in fact mirrors and contains the entire ocean. Transformations within that single droplet inevitably impact the entire world.

The challenge is to claim ownership for the entire world within the province of the self. Nothing that exists without does not exist within. On some level, in some form, we are, each of us, as individuals, also the world.

Outwardly, societies have struggled to create civilization—a humane interconnectedness that eliminates the extreme cruelty and brutality of barbarism. Regardless of a given civilization’s progress in actualizing its civilized intent, greed and self-interest remain part of the self and part of the world.

Wars, at their root, result from the breakthrough of these shadow energies, previously held in check by a civilized container. The explosive release of these powerful energies leads to great destruction of the Earth and human life. Postwar optimism and renewal of life become possible once the deployed energies of destruction are on the wane, and as good once again begins to assert itself.

The inefficiency of this war and peace cycle is obvious, particularly at a time when modern weaponry can destroy the Earth. Quite simply, humanity must develop a new technology to harmonize the bipolar energies within itself. Rather than simply repress and imprison its unwanted self, humanity must own and integrate all parts of itself.

This brings us back to that droplet of self we know ourselves to be in this life. Within that droplet is every person, every act we see perpetrated in the world. Firstly, can we own that behavior out there that we so disdain? We can believe that we would never do some of the things we see happening in the world, but can we own the fascination, rage, joy, contempt, or hatred we might be inwardly experiencing that vicariously activates and releases like energies in ourselves?

Own your shadow. Jung believed this to be the greatest challenge and necessary next step in human evolution. Carlos Castaneda left us the technology of suspending  judgment of others to own our own shadow. When we judge, we put ourself above the person we are judging. This separation of self from other is actually a disowning of the part of ourself activated by the other’s behavior. When we suspend judgment, we are freed to face honestly all we discover in ourselves, good and bad.

The Buddhists highlight the technology of compassion to reconcile with the unwanted within the self. Every time we find ourselves triggered and enraged by the behavior of another, feel loving compassion for that human being in deep struggle with the forces within themselves. Use such moments as teaching moments, asking the self, “What am I supposed to learn from this experience?” In this manner, everything becomes personally meaningful and part of our own journey to reconciliation and wholeness.

This in no way means to deny the rage and hatred experienced at the barbarism on display, but to reach a feeling of deep compassion is to absorb and transmute those warring energies, creating deep acceptance of self and other. True love requires that we love all.

Our holographic droplet of water self that achieves both a suspension of judgment and compassion for the other is in such a state of advance that its greater wholeness, the ocean and humanity at large, can’t help but be changed by it, within and without. Do not doubt; this is the power of the humbly small.

Half full with compassion,