The eroticization of male dominance and female passivity in couple relations is a game in which there are no winners, a luring trap that blocks what makes human relationships human — an empathic connection — a hardwired drive to mutually know and compassionately understand one another that is rooted in our nature to matter as meaning-seeking relational beings.
This capacity remains dormant, however, unless developed. It is a learned ability that requires such skills as being open and vulnerable to one another, an essential aspect of growing the courage we need to love with our whole heart. (To love with our whole heart, in a nutshell, means to develop our capacity to remain empathically connected to self and other, in moments when core fears, such as inadequacy or rejection, get triggered.)
In a cultural context that relegates empathy, vulnerability and emotional closeness as weakness or “girly,” and emotions of pain, hurt or fear as signs of inferiority or defect, especially for men (to women who want to be “accepted” as “equals” in this milieu), is it any wonder why so many couples get tripped up in their attempts to create vibrant, mutually enriching relationships?
It has to do with the dehumanizing nature of these cultural norms.
For this and other reasons, looking more closely at the negative impact of these cultural stories opens up possibilities for men and women to see one another anew, and, rather than compete, to honor the intrinsic dignity and value of each in relation to the other, first and foremost, as human beings, with an amazing potential to work cooperatively as partners in forming a healthy relationship and an enriching context for one another to grow and self-actualize as uniquely contributing individuals.
Mindful breathing is a built-in tool that can help us monitor, self-direct and transform our experience of life.
In Part 1 we looked at the benefits of mindful breathing, as a common thread in practices of mindfulness and self-directed healing; and, in Part 2 we explored three ways in which our breath invites us to get involved, as an active partner, in optimally enhancing our life and relationships.
In this third of a 3-part series, we delve into three essential principles that best guarantee our success in integrating mindful breathing as a practice that can enrich every area of our life.
Three Essential Principles.
By definition, principles are basic truths or standards that, when followed, form a foundation for producing optimal results. In mindful practices, principles can also be thought of as consciously set intentions.
So, what three principles, set as intentions, form a strong foundation in cultivating a practice of mindful breathing?
Human beings are fascinated by stories. It’s part of our nature, as much as breathing, and our brain learns best through the telling of stories.
Simply put, we are born storytellers. We fashion a story about ourselves from the time we are born, if not earlier.
Our story contains an array of verbal, visual, and other felt sensory elements, in addition to a storyline that can endure a lifetime.
This storyline forms an inner dialogue of thoughts, a stream of consciousness, or ‘self-talk,’ that explains and interprets our life, self and situations – to others and to our own mind . We have an average of fifty to seventy thousand thoughts a day, most of which are repetitive in nature, and not conscious thinking, but rather under the control of the part of the mind that runs all the systems of the body that we don’t have to think about, often known as the ‘subconscious,’ ‘unconscious’ or ‘non-conscious’ mind.
Paradoxically, we are the creators of these running commentaries, and at the same time, the stories we fashion turn around to shape us and our lives in profound ways.
Whether within or outside of our awareness, at any given time, our breath relates to us as an active partner.
It does its part, and like a good partner, it ever invites us to work together, as a team, to optimally nourish our own health and well-being.
In Part 1, we explored how vital a practice of mindful breathing is to our physical and emotional well-being, and some of its proven benefits.
In this post we look at three ways our breath invites us to be an active presence in creating a fulfilling life and consciously connected, healthy and wise self.
First, let’s consider:
How is it we so casually turn down an invite to open up space for our life and being in the present moment?
Perhaps one reason is that, unlike in Eastern cultures, we don’t learn early on as children to use our breath, as a resource that connects us to our inner world, for solutions to life’s everyday problems.
In the last few decades, we have learned a lot about the beneficial effects of mindfulness and the mind-body connection on health, as well as quality of life and relationships.
A key aspect of a conscious lifestyle and living with awareness is developing a practice of mindful breathing, also known as diaphragmatic or deep breathing. In truth, deep breathing is a form of meditation.
Our breath is designed to partner with us in three ways in fostering optimal health together; there are also three principles that form the basis of a successful practice of mindful breathing. Those are the topics of Part 2 and Part 3. In this post we explore how vital deep breathing is to our physical and emotional well-being, and some of its proven benefits.