One of the things that I have noticed about how my stream of consciousness journaling has changed over the last few years is that I’ve taken on a new habit. I’ve been writing two words almost daily: “Deep Breath.”
Only it’s not just the words, as I write I will inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Sometimes I will breathe in and out deeply and slowly multiple times as I write, “Breathe Deep. Deep Breath. Deep Breath. Deep Breath.”
I do this whenever I feel tension rising in my body while I’m writing. I might notice myself clenching my jaw, tightening my shoulders, gripping the pen extra hard or even holding my breath. Sometimes I will notice my heart has started to race. Inevitably these feelings are tied to whatever I am writing about. And so, I take these signals as indicators that I need I stop, pause and breathe. I write “Deep” as I inhale and “breath” as I exhale.
Taking a deep breath is amazingly centering. It calms the nervous system. It allows you to recenter yourself and your thoughts. It literally feeds your brain with oxygen so you may function better. After I breathe deeply I am able to move past whatever caused me to feel anxious so I may come to a resolution with my thinking that leads to an appropriate action (if any is even required).
So, the next time you practice stream of consciousness writing I implore you to experiment with writing, “Deep” while inhaling into your belly, and “Breath” while exhaling slowly and completely. Do it multiple times. See how if makes you feel, how it changes the tension in your muscles or shifts the direction of your thoughts.
Do this anytime you feel your muscles clenching, and tension rising in your body while you’re writing. Do it enough times and you may just start to form a new habit, whereby you take deep breaths when you experience the triggers that cause you to feel fear, anxiety or uncertainty…I have found that this practice has helped me to re-write limiting patterns when I’m not journaling as well, which has enabled me to live more mindfully.
What about taking a deep breath helps you to recenter?