The diaphragm: The seed of the ‘A-ha’ moment

I am interested in moving the breath down….

I have become increasingly aware of the addiction to ‘up’ ….

In my personal asana practice, there has been a realization to the many years that I have unknowingly (unconsciously) spent in a state of activation. As I am increasingly attuned to the subtlety and complexity of sensation, it has become glaringly clear how ‘up’ I am.

And then there is the rationalization that by engaging in an activating (strengthening) practice I was countering my depressive nature.  In reality, it has been avoidance and fear. Ah the blind spot!  On some programmed level, there was a fear that if I were to drop down, I would not come back up even though intellectually, mentally, and rationally, I know that this is not the case.  There lies a disconnect between mind and body.  In these places of opposing tensions there is valuable information!

That fear of dropping into the unknown, or what I think of as ‘dropping down’, often presents in therapy sessions.  When individuals become aware of the many anxiety based distractions that we engage in, as a means to avoid that place… that space… and an inner dialogue of “What if I return to that time in my life?”, “I don’t want it to ever get that bad again”.  I encourage them to trust that this space is generally not nearly as scary as our fantasy has tricked us into believing.   And that this time around, it will be familiar. The hero, on his journey, has the necessary tools to navigate this space.  I will act as a guide, holding their hand, through the process.

Last week in class, I spoke of how ‘a-ha’ moments are few and far between.  People seek therapy thinking that it is going to be full of ‘a-ha’s’.  People practice yoga for the same reason.  There is a necessity of putting in a lot of time and commitment into the ‘work’, or the ‘practice’, for the very occasional ‘A-ha’.  When you get an ‘A-ha’, though, it is SO good.  Addictive.

The diaphragm.  I have been inviting a more conscious diaphragmatic breath pattern to my asana practice the past few weeks.  The diaphragm is the bridge between the upper body and the lower body.  As we ascend upwards, we connect with the conscious mind, and as we descend downwards, we connect with the unconscious. When we connect with the diaphragm, and specifically initiating our breath using this muscle, we connect with our core – the integration of conscious and unconscious and the comforting ability to vacillate between the two. Our core self.  I reference the core as the seed of life force, versus muscular engagement.  Can we redefine strength? With a splash of anger, I brush aside the female socialization of ‘drawing the belly in’.  Let the belly out!

I believe that the diaphragm is the seat of the ‘A-ha’ moment. The diaphragm is the metaphoric guide between the world above, and the world below.  When opposing forces, and or states, are able to co-exist we find clarity … or ‘A-ha’.

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