Like I said, it's not all about food this month.
Aside from being extremely scary and awful, one thing I have learned from S1ren being hospitalized is that I've let a lot of things slide, in particular my breathing.I used to teach my students to put their hands on their bellies and breathe so that their hands moved in and out with every breath; I'd talk about our tendency to breathe high in the chest, which triggers the body's fight-or-flight response and contributes to long-term anxiety. We'd work on Darth Vader breathing (aka the Ujjayi breath, I believe, in yoga) and following the breath, and how just pausing to slow your breathing consciously could ground you in a heartbeat, so paying attention and keeping the breath long and slow was good for overall health, meditative ability, and de-stressing.
Yet another in a long line of examples of "Do as Sylvan Says, Not as She Does, Because, DAMN."
Watching my friend fight to breathe and seeing how her breath came in panicked gasps when she couldn't get enough oxygen made me remember all of those lessons, and throughout the day I've been taking notice of when my breath goes shallow and what a difference it makes to my state of mind to breathe as if it were on purpose.
When you watch your breath you become so much more mindful of the overall state of your body. You become aware of tightness, pressure, and pain; how your posture affects your ability to take a full breath, and therefore energize you or enervate you; and how slowing the breath can help still the mind, or at least give you something to focus on besides the gibbering of the Squirrel Brain.
My favorite breath exercise has always been the Zen mindfulness verses I read in Thich Nhat Hanh's Peace is Every Step. He gives you verses to recite mentally while breathing on the inhale and the exhale, such as,
Breathing in...I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out...I know I am breathing out.
I've found this pattern enormously adaptable to stressful situations:
Breathing in...I calm my body.
Breathing out...I am relaxed.
Breathing in...I breathe in love.
Breathing out...I release all fear.
Breathing in...I acknowledge the tasty tasty donut.
Breathing out...I make a healthier choice.
Breathing in...I place the donut back in the box.
Breathing out...I smack the sonofabitch who invented Krispy Kreme.
Well, okay, not so much that last one, but you get the idea.