The thunder let out an alarming roar that struck all of nerves at once with its frustration. The rain began to pour at rapid rate as it strongly leapt from the clouds onto the ground as if it were performing some sort of sorrowful lyrical dance. The rain accompanied the thunder and bringing forth a cleanse; a gesture suggesting that balance is not very far away. With all of the turmoil that has been occurring within our world, lately it is has become difficult to breathe. The world has maintained a tumultuous cycle of major highs, and the lowest of lows. Our world can at times become extremely overwhelming. With social media literally available at our fingertips we have access to a great deal of information. Sometimes, this information can become a burden. We may often find ourselves comparing ourselves to people we label as friends on the Internet. Thoughts of comparison begin to come up pressuring us into believe that the place we are in life currently is not good enough. Recently I have been assaulted by the Internet as I was forced to witness the executions of two of our fellow brothers on camera for the entire world to see. Although the information is valuable, and necessary to observe to commit to making a change within our world, it is completely exhausting.
Wellness in the time of pain
The importance of wellness must be stressed in times of mistrust, and hurt. We are in a psychological warfare. Every time we glance at our Facebook pages, or Instagram we see the most shameful of images. This racial warfare that we are facing leads to psychological trauma. If I gaze upon these unsavory images for too long, I become frustrated. I notice as the anger from the outside world bubbles within me, my body tightens, my breath shortens, and I begin to give into my anger and frustration. For the very first time ever on Wednesday I witnessed a man die, and then the next day I witnessed another die as well. I accidentally watched both of these Facebook video’s that were streaming on my timeline, depicting the death of men that were never even given the opportunity to be proven guilty. The names of these men are Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile. Maybe to others in this desensitized world witnessing these homicides was not jarring, but to many of us, we are absolutely heart-broken, and traumatized. As I sit here and write while listening to the news it is revealed to us that 10 police officers have just been shot in Dallas, and there have been a few fatalities. A war has seemingly been sparked, so what are we to do now? Now we have begun to spiral even further out of control. Now not only are two black families missing their loved ones, but so are the families of police officers that were actually protecting. Everything is hellishly chaotic, which is why the rain has come to settle this insatiable flame. Brilliant and well-planned ideas have never stemmed from rage. We must acquire a sustainable peace. In an effort to achieve clarity one must find relief, and stillness.
Breathing for healing
So often it is easy for us to carry on with our days feeling out our frustrations and dwelling in our pain, or completely ignoring everything occurring around us. Those that may not have developed a yoga or meditation practice yet, may never take time out of their day to check-in with their breath. Our breath sustains our lives, even more so than food or water. As humans we are able to go days without food or water, but we cannot go more than a few minutes without breathing. If we fail to breathe, we will surely perish. Our breath should be developed and increased over time. We should all be engaging with our breath through the practice of pranayama; that being the regulation of the breath through certain techniques and exercises. My favorite breathing exercise is called square breathing. To practice square breathing we must (1)inhale through the nose for four counts, (2) hold the top of the inhale for four counts, (3) exhale for four counts, and then hold the bottom of the exhale for four counts. I like to repeat this a minimum of 5 times in a row. Through pranayama we are actively engaging and controlling our life force; our life force being our breath. Breathing exercises calm the nervous system on a cellular level. In the past I have suffered from sever anxiety and depression, but through practicing a variety of breathing techniques I have learned how to completely calm myself down, and to settle my mind. Imagine what it would be like if everyone took a deep breath before reacting to outside forces. Clearly people are struggling due to a lack of air. None of these assailants can breathe. They all must be choking, and gasping for air. Clearly they are not thinking straight.
Self-care is a personal responsibility
We do indeed live in a frustrating time. Are we on an episode of the Hunger Games right now? It is important for us to combat our anger and frustration with peace. Breath, peace, understanding, and good decision-making skills go hand in hand. In order to achieve the changes we wish to see we must develop our sight. I must reiterate this point; in order to think clearly we must have control over our breath. Fear and anxiety are constantly being thrown at us; however, we must not believe in these things. We must look inward for change; it begins with us, and with self-care. Hopefully while we are chasing our freedom you will all remember to inhale the good, and exhale the bad in an effort to gain clarity.
Lauren J. Williams is a graduate of Western Michigan University where she studied Communication. Lauren is a native of Detroit and an avid yogi. She is dedicated to bringing Yoga to everyone that seeks it, and is deeply inspired by all mediums of art and healing. Follow her on IG: laurenjanae8