An excerpt from Chapter One of Kiss Your
Monsters Goodbye by Cindy Ashton
and really facing ourselves—our thoughts, patterns, and behaviors—takes
great courage. But if we are willing to, we can transform our lives
long‐term and create miracles.
Good breathing techniques are the key to deepening our consciousness
and getting to know our bodies. In addition to helping us slow down
enough to hear our thoughts and
monsters, breath is the life force with the power to cleanse, nourish,
relax, heal, and transform our world.
of good breathing techniques include:
When the exhalation is longer than the inhalation, we stimulate the
parasympathetic nervous system. In turn, the heart rate slows down and
blood pressure decreases.
This relaxation response helps to slow and refocus us.
intuition and changing consciousness
Many systems of Yoga are built on breathing techniques as breath is
considered to be the entry between the mind and body. When we slow and
focus our breathing, our thoughts and body become quiet. At those
moments we move beyond our brain clutter—and peace and clarity can
shine through. Once we stop long enough to hear the intuition (or the
voice of God depending on beliefs), we become aware. Awareness propels
When we inhale, we take in oxygen, nourishing our cells with life. Upon
exhaling, the wastes and toxins of carbon dioxide are released. If we
are breathing incorrectly, the oxygen cannot reach all the cells to
feed them and wastes cannot be dispelled from our bodies. Therefore,
cells quickly die and create imbalance in our bodies, contributing to
possible illness, disease, and overall lack of wellness. When we are
off balance, our energy is lower, causing us to be more susceptible to
When our body moves with ease and without constriction, we have more
energy. With increased vitality, we feel good and are able to stay
positive longer. But if we are
uncomfortable in our bodies due to muscle tension, we get fatigued
faster, lowering our defenses and allowing the monsters to creep in.
Breathing into sore, tight muscles and then letting them go can
decrease pain and increase mobility.
Unexpressed emotions such as anger or sadness stay in the body, once
again creating imbalance and general unhappiness. If these things are
not dealt with long‐term, illness will result. When we consciously
breathe—noticing where the breath easily flows and where it is
obstructed—we can start to assess where we hold our pain, why, and how.
With this awareness, we can notice our feelings, which lead us to
taking action towards deeper healing.
Although we are breathing constantly, the majority of us fail to do it
efficiently and effectively because it is an unconscious process.
Therefore learning to breathe properly is essential. Healthy breathing
is controlled by the diaphragm, a concave muscle running along the base
of the ribs. When we inhale, the diaphragm pushes our internal organs
down and flattens out causing our stomach to rise. Exhalation happens
Place your right hand on your chest and your left hand on your stomach.
When you inhale (take a breath in), which hand rises—the right hand for
the chest region or the left hand for the stomach region? When you are
breathing, count as you inhale and then starting at one again, count as
you exhale. Is your inhale longer than your exhale?
Exhale longer than your inhale? Inhale and exhale an equal number of
If you inhale longer than you exhale, you are taking in too much oxygen
and not expelling it all, causing imbalance and stress on your body. If
you exhale longer than you inhale, then you are stimulating a
relaxation response, helping you to tune into your body. If your
inhales and exhales are equal, you are maintaining healthy and balanced
breathing for optimal, everyday functioning.
When you are aware of your breathing, do you have a continuous, flowing
cycle of inhales and exhales? Do you hold your breaths sometimes? If
you hold breaths, it is an indication you are holding stress or fear in
Lie on your back. If you have back problems, place a pillow under your
knees. Place your hands on your stomach, close your eyes, and just
notice. Don’t try to take deep breaths yet. Once you feel the breath
drop into your diaphragm, you should feel your hands rise up with the
inhalation and down with the exhalation. Notice how your body feels so
you can remember and duplicate the response at a later time. Once your
belly rises and falls easily, start to breathe in more deeply. You will
feel the stomach stretch. If you find the breath goes back up into the
chest, repeat the process.
to your body
Start by balancing your breath by breathing in for four counts then
exhaling for four counts. Try not to hold your breath between cycles,
keeping it flowing continuously. In order to tune into your body, you
need to create a relaxation response.
Start to exhale longer than you inhale by breathing in for four,
exhaling out for six. After a minute or so, start inhaling in for four,
exhaling out for eight. As you are breathing, you will be slowing down
to the point where you begin to notice your thoughts and feelings.
Simply observe what comes up without judgment and take note.
Scan your body from head to toe, observing the areas of pain,
discomfort, or tension. Again, there is no need for judgment, just
observation. Imagine deeply breathing into those areas and then
releasing the pain upon exhalation.
Continue to breathe into those areas and release until you feel less
discomfort. Imagine blowing out black smoke that gets eaten by a cloud
of white light and floats away.
Try to create other images for yourself and see what works best. Once
you feel relaxed, refreshed, and ready to go, be sure to balance the
breath (four in, four out). If you stand up too quickly without
balancing, you may experience dizziness.
The more you consciously breathe into your body and stimulate the
relaxation response, the quicker you become at identifying your
thoughts and feelings and noticing when your body (and those monsters)
are speaking to you. If you have challenge or fear, or are resisting
something that’s happening in your life, your body will hold pain,
tension, and/or discomfort.
Once you tune into where that lies within yourself and acknowledge it,
you can begin to mentally ask “what is this pain I’m holding?” From
there, you can begin to tackle the monster head on! And sometimes by
just noticing, it will release the resistance.
Ask yourself, “What thoughts, feelings, and images did I see while in
the relaxation response? Where do I hold pain, discomfort, and tension?
What insights about myself, or a particular situation, came up when I
breathed into tense areas?" ###