The Rainstorm I Didn’t Want to Dance In
Man, oh, man- it is pouring out.
I’m driving on Route 9 and I cannot see a damn thing.
The rain’s coming down in buckets. Seriously- buckets. It’s like mother nature left the faucet on full force and my windshield wipers on high aren’t making even a tiny dent in the visibility. I really, really can’t see anything.
I’m in the left lane and I can’t get to the shoulder to pull over with cars all around me.
This is not okay. I am not okay.
I have a death grip on the steering wheel and every muscle in my body is tensed.
Panic begins to set in.
A gust of wind and more water streaks across my windshield and I am struggling to make out brake lights around me.
I begin to talk to myself. Out loud. (Did I mention the panic? So yeah...out loud.)
“Just breathe. You’re fine. You’re fiiiiiiine. Just drive slowly.”
But then another gust and more water and my heart rate spikes.
“I CAN’T SEE! Come on, Mother Nature, take a breather already!”
Oh...take a breather...I should do that, too.
“Okay, Jenn, just breathe. Inhale. Exhale. You can do this.”
This cycle went on for at least 20 minutes: panic, breathe, panic, breathe.
Has this ever happened to you?
I was definitely headed down a rabbit hole to panicsville in the car that stormy day.
Luckily for me, the whole reason I was in the car was to go teach a yoga class and my theme for that day was breathing through challenge. For real, though.
It was like Mother Nature wanted to make sure I knew what I was talking about and threw me a little test just to make sure!
During that drive I got to practice breathing through stress over and over and over again.
Did it make the rain stop? No.
Did it make it more pleasant to not be able to see anything? Ummmm, yeah...not even a little bit.
What it did was make it handleable.
It let me stay calm enough to see what I needed to do. To remain aware and alert and able to make decisions that were intentional instead of fueled by pure fear and panic.
Which, as it turns out, is kind of a big deal.
So I breathed into the stress, white-knuckled hands on the steering wheel and all, until I safely reached my destination. I taught my class with renewed appreciation for the power of my breath.
Life is grand like that.
It gives us opportunities to practice what we want to manifest in our lives. To practice what we preach and put our values into action.
For me, on that day, it was all about my breath and not going down that rabbit hole to panicsville. Because in my life, I don’t want to make decisions rooted in fear, whether those are big decisions or small ones.
Here’s exactly what I did to detour off my road to panicsville:
I inhaled all the way into my belly for a count of 4.
Then I exhaled for a count of 4.
Rinsed and repeated as necessary (like every 30 seconds...because SO MUCH RAIN!)
It was really that simple. When I felt my heart start racing, I focused on my breathing.
I won’t dive deep into the science here this time around, but suffice it to say, when we breathe deeply, we literally change the state of our bodies and minds. We move from the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response to the parasympathetic nervous system’s “rest and digest” state.
That’s a big deal with lots of important consequences, so make note because I will be coming back to this later!
But for now, here’s your big takeaway:
Your breath is a seriously powerful tool.
Learning how to work with it has real and tangible effects on the quality of our lives, affecting everything from small decisions to how we operate in our relationships. It’s no joke, yo!
I share more breathing techniques and ways to apply them, as well as lots of other simple-yet-powerful ways to improve your day-to-day life, in my monthly emails so if you haven’t signed up yet, head over and do that now! (Psssst...there are some fun bonuses and tools in the pipelines for my awesome subscribers, so get over and sign up so that you can get all the goodies as they drop!)