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Breathing Into the Present Moment

As a functional breathing instructor, the opportunity to put in to practice for myself what I typically recommend to clients and those who attend our workshops and classes is not only useful, but as I found out recently, also highly beneficial.

After experiencing digestive issues for several weeks, I was recently admitted to hospital for further investigations. An ultrasound examination indicated an enlarged gall bladder, but that wasn't all. I was also informed that the scan showed what appeared to be an unusual cluster of blood vessels within the bladder. The doctor suspected a possible tumour and recommended I should undergo surgery to remove my gall bladder as soon as possible. I have to confess, I was caught completely off guard by the direction in which this was heading, this is the sort of news none of us wishes to hear.

When confronted with this new reality, our default response is to start imagining all the different potential scenarios. I resolved nevertheless to remain positive and to focus on the present moment, and not what may or may not lie ahead. As I lay in hospital, I downloaded the Oxygen Advantage breathing app created by my coach Patrick McKeown and reminded myself what I already knew, which is how focusing on our breathing can not only help to anchor us when the oceans of our mind threaten to become turbulent, but also to promote a feeling of calm.

When the day of the operation arrived and I lay waiting to be taken in to the operating theatre, feeling increasingly nervous, I resolved once again to focus on breathing slowly and softly in and out through my nose. I sensed my body beginning to relax and my fears gradually ebbing away. It was as though I'd discovered a secret safe place where everything was just as it should be. Interestingly, I even had the benefit of direct feedback of the effect the conscious breathing was having on me as the monitor by my bed showed my pulse slowing and my blood oxygen saturation spiking at 99%. I experienced a zen-like calmness that had eluded me for most of that day, where my mind was completely focused on the moment.

I now understand more than ever how we should never underestimate the power of breathing to take us to that special place, a place that feels like the only one that ever exists, because 'now' can only ever be now.

I am delighted to report that the operation went well and I am now on the road to recovery and thankful that the doctor's suspicions were unfounded and that nothing untoward was discovered. My new journey without a gall bladder has begun.

Graham Henry

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