As I walked up the long driveway pulling the overfull trash container behind me, my mind wandered to all the yard work still needing completion before winter. By the time I placed the trash container near the street and turned around to walk back down the driveway, my shoulders were up around my ears, my mind full of plans, lists, and schedules, my pace almost a run.
Then I turned the corner at the back of the house.
The blessing of our piece of land lies in the trees, and the early morning sun. Watching the sun rise through the trees in all four Ohio seasons always sculpts the start of my day.
I stopped walking.
‘Take a breath,’ I heard myself say.
I inhaled deeply taking my shoulders even higher towards my ears. On the exhale, I dropped my shoulders. Interesting sensations always bear repeating in my experience, so I did this a few more times, feeling my shoulders gradually relax. I set the timer on my ever present phone for one minute.
I know I always have a minute.
I paused to appreciate the sun and trees, breathe the still cool air.
Then I walked slowly up and down the driveway, breathing in, breathing out. Keeping my shoulders relaxed this time, I concentrated on the feeling of my ribs floating up, my chest rising on the inhale, dropping down on the exhale.
By the time I heard the beep from my phone, I felt awake, enlivened, and even taller.
Set a timer for one minute
- Inhale deeply taking your shoulders high toward your ears. On the exhale, drop your shoulders. Repeat a few times feeling the shoulders loosen and relax. Then, either walking or standing, keep your shoulders relaxed and feel just the ribs floating up, the chest rising, the body taller on each inhale. Allow the ribs to drop on the exhale, keeping the feeling of ‘tall.’
- Pause while walking (even across a parking lot) to appreciate the sun, trees, landscape with your eyes. Take a breath and notice the feeling of the air coming into your lungs. Expand your awareness to the temperature and humidity of the air.
Shoulder anatomy animation and explanation here (6 minutes)
Video of movement of rib cage here (45 seconds):