By Marilyn Halpern, LSW, ACSW ~
A cairn is a pile of stones strategically placed on a trail to guide hikers. When the path appears unclear, a carefully balanced cairn can signify you are on the right path. Cairns have been guiding people for thousands of years.
August is National Wellness Month with a focus on managing stress, promoting healthy habits and developing self-care routines. As we continue to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty and racial unrest, how can we best find the path to more tranquility? Cairns can offer a helpful metaphor as we focus on balance, nature and trying to discover our own inner peace. ”Slow down and breathe deeply” offers a natural way to manage stress and reduce anxiety.
“Heart breath” is a simple breathing technique that encourages deep, rhythmic breathing. For most people it is a 10 – 12 minute cycle of slowly inhaling through the nose for a count of 5 – 6 seconds and exhaling through your mouth or nose for 5 – 6 seconds. The breathing is expansive and intentional. To begin, find a comfortable position. Feel the balance of your physical body. Try to get as comfortable as possible. Set a timer for 10 – 30 minutes. The “heart breath” can be done in almost any situation. It only requires intentional, steady breathing. Some find it helpful on the in breath to silently recite “breathe” and on the out breath to envision the word “deeply.” Any two-word, calming phase could be beneficial. The relaxed “heart breath” can help provide more calmness, especially if during the breathing exercise you can release feelings of worry, anxiety and expectations. After this calm, reflective exercise more clarity may arise regarding other wellness goals. If possible, write your thoughts down to develop as the month progresses.
As we focus on our vitality for August, we can reflect on what wellness cairns guide our path. How can we carve out more time to “slow down and breathe deeply?” During these uncertain times, we can find solace in being guided where the trail direction is not obvious. Be well and stay safe.
Marilyn Halpern is a medical power of attorney, care manager and professional guardian in the Denver Metro area. For more information www.aspencareservices.com.