Standing waiting in our designated ‘family box’ in the reception area of the Alliwee Caves in Co Clare recently, waiting to enter the underground caves, knowing that the cave is 1.5km into the underground, with a fastened heart rate, a quickened breath, pains in my tummy, another trip to the bathroom, feeling like I couldn’t breathe between the required face coverings to enter and the claustrophobia of an underground cave and 40 minute tour, thank goodness I had my ‘Mindfulness toolbox’ on hand and had my breathing techniques ready to launch.
This is a prime example of how Mindfulness and continuously ‘training my brain’ has completely transformed my life. Years ago, there is no way I would have been able to go into an underground cave or wear a face covering anytime. I would have been completely taken over by fear and panic. I would have felt as if I was about to pass out. Being able to engage my inner strength through my breath to calm and balance my central nervous system and my spiralling thoughts of panic, I have to say I quite enjoyed the tour in the cave!!
But what I enjoyed more was the feeling of elation, strength, power and respect I felt for my mind, body and emotions afterwards. I had done it. I had faced a very overwhelming experience for me and maintained calm and harmony over my mind and body. As I connected to my breath in that moment, all of a sudden all of the unpleasant physical symptoms like my racing heart rate, my quickened breathing rhythm, the pains and cramps in my tummy, they all disappeared as I just connected to the present moment I was in, even if it was a dark, cold, damp underground cave, while wearing a face covering!!
When you think about it, a boat or ship uses it anchor for stability, for security, for deeply connecting itself below the waters surface. The anchor helps to create a pulling sensation, a weighted deepening of a vessel to a deeper, calmer, more tranquil place of rest. This is how our breath can act as our anchor in our body.
Something else to think about, if a boat or ship is wading or floating in calm waters without it’s anchor engaged, it will still drift and coast across the water, perhaps not even aware it is doing so. Now think of a boat or ship that is in deep, stormy waters with no anchor engaged, this is a recipe for disaster. The anchor is one of the main elements that the captain depends on to stabilise his or her boat, to prevent damage, capsizing or even sinking. Using our breath as our anchor can help us to stabilise ourselves in our everyday life. It can help us to take control of our vessel, our body and ensure that we don’t loose control of it and end up capsizing or sinking.
So HOW do I use my Breath as my Anchor?
The following is a step by step guide on how to engage your breath as your body’s anchor:
By Leona McDonnell Mindfulness and Wellness
As published in The Anglo Celt, Connaught Telegraph, Meath Chronicle, Offaly Independent, Westmeath Examiner and Westmeath Independent w/c 7th September 2020