In these post-Christmas days, it was a treat to have the opportunity to go for an extended trail run under clear, blue skies on the last Sunday morning of December. Getting above the clouds on Mount Tzouhalem at this time of the year is pretty sweet! It was just above zero (Celcius) with lots of frost on the ground but the bright sunshine quickly penetrated the light jackets and made us feel quite overdressed. The Island mountains to the west and the Olympic range, south of the border, looked awesome with snow marking their highest elevations - breathtaking.
This past while, I've been trying to pay closer attention to the act of breathing. Sounds strange to say but for the most part, like a lot of us, I've taken this rather essential activity for granted and in so doing, missed out on some of the gifts of the ocean of air in which we live and thrive. Breathing well, and paying attention to the very act of breathing, can be one of the most relaxing (and exhilerating!) exercises imaginable. Breathing deeply, and through our noses, draws life-giving air deep into the widest part of our lungs - the bottom, where the greatest concentration of alveoli are poised to do their special job, which is to enable the oxygen to enter the blood-stream. Yup, pretty important. Breathing through the mouth, which we humans tend to do, results in much shallower breathing and the air not penetrating deeply to where it needs to be. Interestingly enough, it seems we're one of the only mammals that seems to have forgotten how to breathe properly and effectively! Ever watched a race horse? We won't find its mouth open as it, at breathtaking speed, races around the track. Dogs too, they only open their mouths to cool themselves.
Breathing mindfully is not easy but it's a discipline that sure seems worth working on. It enables us to exercise our bodies and mitigate the effects of everyday stress in such a way that we become healthier, happier, and more productive. It also makes us much more aware of, and connected to, the moment. Sounds all good to me.
Till the next time,
Image taken from near "The Cross", on Mt. Tzouhalem, looking to the west over Duncan, BC.