Resources for Recovering Resilience: Breathing Together; Living Deeply

[As news of Bouncing Back gets out, colleagues and friends are sending me resources for recovering resilience to pass on to you as well. I’ve integrated one from my book on Breathing Together with the two below from Elizabeth Lehmann, and I’m letting you know of Daniel Ellenberg and Cassi Vieten’s fabulous Living Deeply workshop at Esalen, too.]

Breathing Together

Elizabeth Lehmann, MSW, a New York City based psychotherapist, has created a CD of tools to regulate stress and overwhelm in her Resilient-You program. Elizabeth is a warm companion and guide on the CD; her voice and pacing are soothing in and of themselves. (www.Resilient-You.com) Many exercises will be familiar to you: breathing slowly and deeply, self-hugs, walking meditation, connecting to internal and external resources. Two that I’ve passed on to several clients already:

  1. Hold My Hand

    Settle into a sense of presence, coming into an awareness of being in your body, breathing slowly, deeply, fully. Gently hold the thumb of your non-dominant hand in the palm of your dominant hand. Feel the comfort of the warm touch of your hand holding your thumb. You might sense that your thumb can represent any smaller, younger part of you that is upset or worried about something, and that your hand is offering comfort, soothing, holding. Sit with your hand holding your thumb for a moment, noticing any relaxation or releasing of tension in your body; let your thumb receive the caring attention and holding of your hand, your presence and loving attention to any part of you that needs soothing.

  2. Touching the Breath

    Sit or lie down comfortably; settle into a sense of presence, coming into an awareness of being in your body, breathing slowly, deeply, fully. Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly. Notice the fullness of your breathing as your belly and chest lift and fall. Notice the warmth of the touch of your hands on your chest and belly.

    Either ask a friend to gently touch you on the shoulder while you are doing this exercise, or imagine someone you feel safe and comfortable with touching you on the shoulder as you breathe slowly, deeply, fully. Notice and take in the comfort of your friend’s presence; notice any relaxation or releasing of tension in your body.

  3. Breathing Together (from Bouncing Back)

    (This exercise uses breathing and touch to create a resonant connection between you and another person that can relax your reactivity and help you return to your baseline of calm and equanimity. After two to three minutes, you and your partner can switch roles.)

    Have your partner lie down comfortably on the flow with eyes closed. Sit comfortably on the floor nearly. Come into a sense of presence, of being with this person, here and now. Place one hand on his hand or forearm, the other hand on the crown of his head. Your partner breathes slowly, deeply. Begin to synchronize your breathing with his breathing. Simply breathe together for two to three minutes, noticing the life force entering and leaving his body and yours.

    You are strengthening the capacities of the resonance circuit of your brain to restore calm in your body and dropping into a shared equilibrium, an equanimity for two.

Living Deeply, The Art and Science of Transformation
March 22-24, 2013 Esalen Institute, www.esalen.org

I took Daniel and Cassi’s Living Deeply workshop a year ago when I was deeply immersed in the creative (tortuous) process of writing the book and would take it again this year if I weren’t presenting the same weekend at the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium in Washington, D.C. (Neuroscience and the Art of Self Care, close enough.) I found the Living Deeply workshop to be true to its promise:

We are each always changing, always growing. But sometimes we encounter moments or periods of life that are so potent, and so full of potential, that they transform our consciousness. Where we have been limited, we expand. We become more open, balanced, and aligned with our true values. Compassion for self and others arises more naturally.

Whether you seek to transform your life completely or simply make adjustments to add richness and depth – learning more about the terrain of consciousness transformation can not only give you a map, but also can help you become the cartographer of your own journey.