Lungs and Heart: First, last, outer, inner, only that breath breathing human being.

in naturalmedicine •  2 months ago

In thinking of how I manage my anxiety, I have to think about my lungs and my heart. I've written before about the herbs and other things that help nurture and stablise me, but I can't really ignore the role of sweet breath in bringing me into a more fuller, more capable version of myself, bringing me to a calmer centre and sense of true selfness. I'm in the midst of a long process of understanding the subtleties of breath and it's link to anxiety, and it's all the more of a powerful process for me due to my asthma. Having been prescribed oral steroids to help with my breathing, I was mortified to find out that they can be a cause of anxiety too - what's a girl meant to do? I have to breath! And so I tune myself more to the breath, going deep inward to explore this relationship I have with it, and trying to find a way to live and breathe independently of symbicort.

Oh, my lungs! Rip them from chest and your friend the heart will follow, vessels wrapping around both like cobwebs. Together you are tenderness, love and grief. You are empathy and kindness, the feeling of suffering, containing all the residual pains of suffering. Was it traumatic for you, that first breath, that first ripping upon? Have you spent years trying to recover from that first trauma of life or death?

When I stretch out my hand, the thumb is connected via the lung meridian, the tip of the little finger starts the heart meridian, and the tip of the middle finger begins the pericardium meridian, the fibrous membrane which encloses the heart. In my hands, then, my heart and lungs. It seems appropriate as I use my will to train my breath, to consider all the breaths I don't take, and that I am not conscious of, that cause the anxiety of the day to flutter around my heart like butterflies. Even in motion, then, I must be conscious of these subtle body actions and movements. The sacred seam of the arm moves from thumb to heart and lung and when I bear my weight in downward dog or in side plank, there is a powerful effect on the circulation of blood, lympth and and nerve, the shoulders strengthening along with the chest cavity. It starts in my hands, hasta bandha, all corners of the hands pressing down and the palm centre drawing up. Tiny subtles in extremities affecting the centre.

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I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up
from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all

The pericardium is a cocoon, and secures the heart to the diagphram, and with each breath we take, the heart lifts up, floats down, lifts up, floats down. It shelters the heart, safeguards it, forms a sheath over its sensitivity and emotiveness. It's a buffer for the heart - not just physically, but psychologically, spiritually. How terrible can the effect of suffering be on this subtle sheath! Think the sudden intake of breath in fright, the hyperventilation of panic, the sudden heart pains in anxiety. No wonder the breath is so important.

Lungs are trees and trees are lungs. As trees photosynthesis, so too do lungs, of a fashion, a gas exchange via capillary action as oxygen rich prana flows into the blood river and carbon di-oxide draws out. Like trees whose leaves do not bud in the Spring, there are so many restrictions to my breathing that prevent the flow of air - asthma is debilitating in this way, but emphasis on my expanding the rib cage and the muscles there help decorate my the lung tree with fully flushed leaves. Backbends helps exercise the lung tissue, inversions benefit the lower lobes. There is little wonder that a bridge to shoulderstand to fish is one of my favourite sequences. All helps with the pranyama, the roots of the lungs receiving oxygen rather than water, but still, the analogy is clear - the tree blossoms. Without this breath into my deep lung tissue I'm light, airy, ungrounded - the lower lung are earth, where I recieve energy and calm.

“As the leaves aerate the tree and provide nourishment for its healthy growth, so Pranayama feeds and aerates the cells, nerves, organs, intelligence and consciousness of the human system. Thus we grow in health and harmony and increase our span of life by drawing the hidden energy from the ocean of the universal atmosphere.” B.K.S. Iyengar

How vulnerable my lungs are - to smoke, to diet, to chemcials and pollutants. How receptive they are to my environment, filtering and absorbing oxygen from the air. They're impressionable, pliable, delicate - they are the point of contact with the world at large.

But it's not just that that sinks onto lung tissue - it's emotions too, complex feelings. Our lungs are tender in more than one way. We tend to think of our heart space as the arena for emotions, but as I said above, the fact they are so interwined suggest they too are a heart of sorts. In Chinese Medicine they are the seat of grief, and when it stagnates and pools there, melancholy and sadness take root. Thus, depression too is lung related. I think of long sighs in the body's attempt to activate prana flow, the shroud covering the lungs preventing the tissues opening. I think of my years of chainsmoking roll-ups, not knowing why, but trying to either force the emotion down and cover it with smoke or force the lung tissues open to release my angst. How regrettable that is - it would have been wiser of me to turn to yoga.

Now, it's yoga that opens me up, both psychologically and physically. The awareness of, and workings of, my subtle body help me know what to do. I'm aware, for example, that backbends are energising and prescribed as yogic treatment for depression - the lung tissue opens, the prana flows, the yogic tree is fed. Camel pose, a deep backbend, is a moment of intense fear that releases into relief and joy - a camelgasm, I've heard it called. Equal ratio breath helps to even our breathing, our hormones, and our brain patterns. Yoga is what keeps me from depressions door - constant reminders that I can make changes to my subtle body to regulate my emotions. Four seconds in, four seconds out - breath in, breath out, tide in, tide out, the kite sternum sailing in an even and steady breeze.

And within all this, my yogic heart.

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion
or cultural system. I am not from the East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up
from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,
am not an entity in this world or in the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve or any
origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.
I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one and that one call to and know,
first, last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human being.

Rumi

Do you have a relationship with your breath, or does it just flow in and out without your conscious awareness?

Do you suffer from asthma, and/or know pranyama and yoga to help it?

Do you know anything about the effects of trauma on the lungs and heart, and how is captured there?

I find this subject endlessly fascinating - please do comment below with anything you know, as I'm all ears - or all lungs, and heart.




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Manual PhillyC vote!
This is an interesting piece, and it made me think of a book I have nibbled at called 'breaking the death habit'. In this book the author Leonard Orr talks about re-birthing. Apparently the trauma of the birth its self is the strongest imprint we have, beyond all of the other crazy shit we go through.

On that same thread I guess what you've said about the lungs absorbing grief and all kinds of things is true. These soft pieces of flesh absorbing the memory of our most vulnerable and defenseless moment. The first breath literally our first moment of independent life. Recorded in the nervous system or the DNA or something like that. Philly Speculate.

I also happen to think that we can 'complete', heal or relive all of these traumas and remove the energetic cause of many of our ailments! I was having a dicussion with @whatamidoing about this very topic today. It must be the right time to talk about this kind of thing I guess.

Didn't know of your lung concerns, and I'm very glad that you're a yogini then :P

Sending sweet vibrations your way ❤

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thanks gorgeous. I am fascinated by our ability to heal ourselves and I think it starts by understanding body systems. How can I heal unless I know these things?

And yes, definitely yoga helps - it always has!! Thank god for yoga!

These soft pieces of flesh absorbing the memory of our most vulnerable and defenseless moment.

It sounds so tender, this reflection. It makes me wonder about those first moments as I gasped for air. Perhaps the vulnerability has never left me. I've heard of re-birthing, but it never made sense to me, maybe because I hadn't given it the time to think about it in that context until now.

and that manual Philly C vote is gorgeous, thankyou x

this is so beautiful, I really do love your writing, your ability to help me visualize and take me on that journey with you as you delve deep into your world and your understanding of things, is amazing, you have quite a skill beautiful one and reading your posts always fills me up, feeds my soul, thank you xxx

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Thanks so much @trucklife-family, it blows me away that my words do that to you and it inspires me to write more too. I love Steemit for helping me write more - I had a hiatus for years and now I just love that I'm writing more than ever!

Love this post @riverflows There are heart problems in my family and I too suffer from asthma .. I eat loads of garlic take Chaga mushroom, Black seed oil, and Cordyceps .. but I've never really thought about exercises like this before

Backbends helps exercise the lung tissue, inversions benefit the lower lobes.

Sage advice and I love the beautiful observations and literary illustrations you make here .. the pictures are also beautiful. Thank you for sharing and for giving me some food for thought.

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No worries, glad to help. Pranayama has been invaluable to me, but you also have to work up to it too. Consciousness of breath in every moment! Look up a supported fish pose, that's a nice one too which opens up the lungs. Thanks for your comments, really appreciated! I loved this study, it's been fascinating for me too.

I didn't know chaga was good for it, I just ordered some! What is black seed oil?

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I meditate .. but this is new to me so I will definitely be looking into it .. thank you

Yes Chaga is just an amazing overall health tonic .. can't rate it highly enough .. black seed oil (nigella sativa) is also amazing, it's an ancient medicine that was said to cure everything apart from death.. I've got an organic one from nature's blends at the moment . There was a study that stated it cured an hiv patient, but I've only given that cursory research. Apple cider vinegar (with the mother) is also great for the lungs. Thanks again for the great post

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Ah, i thought it could be nigella! You should write about that for @naturalmedicine! ACV I make myself, daily tonic...! Speaking of which, I'm nearly out... I usually collect wild apples for it but didn't this year.

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Ahh I love this piece! Resteeming for sure. This is exactly why I am so enamored by arbor vitae aka that tree of life, because literally the lungs the circulation are just like a tree, and if you look at the biomagnetic field of a human! Yes it's also the tree of life. I love your images, if you turn the one on its side... There it is again, the tree of life. Breathing us all. Just love it!!
Really cool post, loving the information integrated with poetry. Awesome read.

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Exactly - our bodies mirror the world, the world mirrors us! How we imagine ourselves as anything other than this earth, nature, I don't know. The brain plays tricks! Glad you loved it! Thanks for resteeming lovely! xx

Most of the time, I complete the process of breathing unconsciously.
I am not suffering from Asthma but I have a very close friend of mind who is suffering.

Thanks for sharing your insight. Breathing technique is the most famous type of meditation and the way you explain the fundamentals are worth praising. You valued time of the reader. Respect!

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Thanks so much. Breath us everything! Practicing awareness makes me more aware of the breath all the time. Thanks for stopping by! 💛