Do This One Thing Only, and It Will Make a Difference
The unexpected art of sighing
There is an art to sighing. I know, you might be thinking: sighing, really?
Please, Kasia, don't overdo it with your art of something, magic this, healing power that, just to get more reads.
I get it. All of those claims can become annoying, especially when talking about something as natural as sighing.
But sighing is powerful. And you might be surprised at how many people actually don't really know how to do it.
So what is a sigh?
The sigh I'm talking about is a genuine sigh of relief (not the passive-aggressive version accompanied with rolling eyes and frustration).
A sigh is a deep letting go. Imagine walking up the mountain with a heavy pack on your back. I'm talking about the kind of sigh you make when you reach the top and you take it off. That kind of deep letting go that says: right now I don't care about anything anymore.
It's a moment of blissful emptiness.
That ability to let go is essential to our well-being. And I believe, it is really what humanity is struggling with the most. Somehow in our constant stimulation-driven, dopamine-addicted, always ON-mode, we have forgotten how to simply let go.
When I introduce the sigh of relief to my clients, many find it hard. They start pursing their lips and managing their exhale. That's not letting go. That's still trying to be in control.
How do you sigh properly?
Make a sound.
I'm serious. This is crucial. When we make sounds we signal to our Nervous Systems (NS) that it is safe to let go.
Back in the jungle, when you felt there was something lurking in the dark, you didn't make a sound, because it wasn't safe. You had to be on alert. Your NS is still wired that way. Making sounds says to your brain: it's ok, there is no predator, you can relax. (Don't believe me, try it for yourself and notice the difference.)
Open your mouth, drop your jaw and your shoulders.
Literally, imagine putting down a heavyweight. That will help you with the natural letting go. Otherwise, you might be tempted to 'push’ the letting go, and that is you still trying to be in control.
Relax your diaphragm
Most people’s diaphragms are tight. The diaphragm relates to our personal power (in yogic tradition it's the third chakra) and is our center of control. With the diaphragm, we control how much of our emotions we express. If you are finding it hard to sigh out, it's probably because you store tension there.
It's ok, don't try to push it open. Soften into it. Gently. The more you allow yourself to feel the tension, the more it will start letting go.
(If it's really tight, you might consider having a professional breathing or bodywork session where someone can massage it for you).
Sighing is our body's natural way to regulate. It releases tension and stuck energy, it helps us to drop deeper into the body and allows us to feel what's really going on.
Ever noticed? A stressed person doesn't sigh. Stress is what makes us hold our tension inside. It creates stories in our heads about how we have to hold it all together, how we need to do it all alone, and how it's not safe to let go. That further creates stories of feeling alone, and probably also feelings of resentment.
It creates separation and it hardens us. Makes us cold. Less vulnerable.
When we sigh out, on the contrary, we are willing to acknowledge the load we have been carrying. We are willing to show that it is not all easy. Because it isn't. Most of us make our lives unnecessarily more complicated.
When we sigh, we signal not just to our own NS, but to everyone around us that it's safe to drop in and feel. When we sigh, we literally say: hey, you, me, we are not alone.
So try it out. Make it a practice. Whenever you remember just drop that weight, make that sound, give yourself permission to let go.
And notice the difference. Drop me a line and let me know how you go.
(I will record a meditation for you this week! So stay tuned and share this with anyone who might benefit from letting go a little more!)