embodied practice: delighting in breath (cooling + calming)

I have found Kaki (Beak) breathing technique to be one of the simplest to teach, learn, and, most important, to make a regular part of my practice.  I use it to cool down my body when I’m running or practicing an energizing yoga sequence, to quiet and center my mind while meditating or when a task that requires my full attention, and to feel relaxed whenever I am feeling stressed.

You may practice this anywhere, at any time—sitting, standing, lying down or walking. With eyes opened or closed (as long as you’re not moving, that is!)

Begin by observing your natural breathing cycle for several moments.  Use each exhale to relax your muscles and to feel connected to the earth.  Use every inhale to create space in your body and to maintain a lengthened spine.

Relax your tongue and gently bring your lips together to form an “O” as if sipping through straw.  Allow your tongue to rest in your lower palate (perhaps touching the tip against the bottom teeth). Be sure to keep the lips softened—when pinched too tightly, you may feel deep creases in your lips and tension around your mouth and jaw.

kiiks does kaki breath.inhale
my kiddo–ever the willing model–sweetly demos “O”-shaped lips!

Slowly inhale through your mouth.  Feel the cool air flowing across your tongue. You may notice a sipping sound with the incoming breath, but don’t force it.

kiiks does kaki.exhale
ah, yes, to relax the mouth during the pause + smile gently sweetens the exhale!

Close your mouth. Pause briefly to retain your breath for a beat or two.
Feel the fullness of breath in your body. CAUTION: Only hold your breath for as long as it is comfortable—you should never feel any strain, dizziness or light-headedness.

When you are ready to exhale, slowly breathe out through your nose.  Feel the sense of relief in your body as it relaxes and becomes steady with this release of breath. [Allow your mouth to slowly stretch into a gentle smile, as my lil guru does above!]

Continue this breathing pattern for 5 – 10 repetitions. Inhale through your mouth with softly pursed lips; exhale through your nose with your mouth closed and relaxed. Invite the cooling sensation to spread from your tongue to the rest of your body. Allow a sense of calm and ease to prevail. As you cycle slowly and steadily through this breathing pattern, notice your mind beginning to soften, sort, and settle into a steady rhythm of awareness.

Return to your natural breathing rhythm. Spend a few moments noticing thoughts, feelings and sensations without judgment.  Delight in this quiet state of being—feeling cool, calm, and centered in body, breath and mind.

inviting mindfulness in a moment of madness: how I learned to live the meditation when sitting was not an option

Looking back on the journey. Appreciating all the lessons lived! #DharmaForReal

dhamma for mama*

I was pissed!

Once again, despite my wholehearted intentions and efforts, another Wednesday evening had arrived and, instead of meditating with my root sangha (Buddhist meditation community), I was at home.

Feeling exhausted, out of sync, and in deep need of restoring myself in a place of uninterrupted quiet where I could relax my busy mind with the steady flow of my breath and invite the precious moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness that defines mindfulness.

So I was unduly pissed at myself for not being organized (or awake) enough to get there, my mate for not making it easier for me, and all those unforeseeable or unavoidable forces that arose in the course of a day and became “obstacles” to my practice. Adding to my irritation: knowing that I now lived a few minutes away from the temple yet was faced with detours and delays that made getting there seem like a…

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