- Be mindful of your breathing
- Do Jin Shin Jyutsu® 36 Breaths Exercise
- Calm your nervous system
- Support your digestive system
- Oxygenate your brain
- Support detoxification
As I’ve been on my journey of healing and recovery from various autoimmune conditions including eczema as a child, and more recently a healing crisis in 2015 where I was diagnosed with vitiligo, hashimotos thyroiditis, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and began having MS symptoms I have begun to see a pattern where many people who have autoimmune symptoms are Type A Personalities, where they do what it takes to get things done often times without regard for themselves.
Does this describe you? Do you get shit done? Are you the glue that holds everything together? Does it seem that everyone looks to you before finalizing things? Do your coworkers, family and friends rely on you to orchestrate meetings, birthday parties or family vacations? Are you a control freak? Are you a perfectionist?
Well, I can certainly relate to all of these things because that describes me, too. The problem is when you are the anchor for everyone else, then it’s too easy to neglect yourself. So what can you do to balance out your life? There are so many things: the first that comes to mind is to…BREATHE. I learned a really easy Jin Shin Jyutsu®. (pronounced “gin-shin jit-sue”) technique from the book The Touch of Healing by Alice Burmeister with Tom Monte. Jin Shin Jyutsu® is non-massage form of shiatsu developed by Jiro Murai in Japan that helps balance your body to for greater physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. “The thirty-six breaths” exercise is a simple breathing practice. Begin by counting your exhalations (1. Breathe OUT, Breathe IN. 2. Breath OUT, Breathe iN, and continue on to 36.). Start over if you lose count. Do this lying in bed when you first wake up and again before breakfast and lunch, when you get home from work/before dinner, before you go to bed and any other time that you like. You can’t do it too often, and it’s so EASY, yet powerful.
By breathing you will activate your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), or the rest and digest system, which many have not heard of. It’s the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), or the fight or flight nervous system that most have heard about. The problem is that in today’s fast paced, stressful society many stay in the parasympathetic nervous system for too much of their day and sometime all day (or even night while grinding teeth! ). When I was grinding my teeth all night, I never got into rest and digest mode, so it’s no wonder that my system became burnt out.
By doing this simple breathing technique you will also slow down your digestive system so you will be able to better digest all of the delicious, nutritious food that you are eating. I’ll talk about more about mindful eating in a future article.
Make sure that you are belly breathing, too. I realized that I forgot how to breathe, and had to relearn it. When I was really sick my belly was so hard that it was not easy to expand, and I always wanted a flat belly. Now I know that a soft belly is a healthy belly for digestion! I relearned that on the inhale you let your belly out to expand, and on the exhale you pull your belly in. Are you taking small sips of air on the inhale while your shoulders raise up? Yup, I was doing that, too. I learned so many simple techniques from the book, Breathe by Belisa Vranich (www.thebreathingclass.com/book-1), and highly recommend that you check it out.
Another pattern that I discovered was that I was holding my breath. No wonder I was tired all of the time! I realized that when I was feeling stressed that I would hold my breath in traffic or at work while engrossed in working on the computer, or when I felt too many demands from my family. This was just a habit that was not serving my highest good. Once I became aware of it then, I began to tell myself the mantra to breathe in 1-2-3-4, breathe out 1-2-3-4. There are many variations, but this works for me so that I’m not rushing my breathing when I’m busy or stressed. Awareness was the key for me because I could not change my behavior when I did not realize that I was doing it. It all seems so simple, but it is a game changer. It is so crucial that the brain and blood get enough oxygen. Breathing is also a major way that the body detoxifies, and when you have been exposed to so many toxins as I have you need to be able to detox as much as possible.
By being mindful of your breathing, and doing Jin Shin Jyutsu® 36 Breaths while being sure to do belly breathing you can help relax your nervous system, support your digestive system, oxygenate your brain and support detoxification. Try it, and let me know how you feel!