This morning I woke up feeling out of sorts and I couldn’t immediately identify what was bothering me. I was starting to get frustrated because usually I can check in with myself and, within a few minutes, start to decode my feelings.
But that wasn’t happening this morning.
Feeling even more irritated, I plopped into a chair next to my library books. The first one I saw was Joy in Every Moment: Mindful Exercises for Waking to the Wonders of Ordinary Life by Tzivia Gover.
I thought to myself: You have got to be kidding me! On a day like today when my annoyance is increasing by the second?! Is this author nuts, or what?!!
Just for the heck of it, I opened the book to a random page and this is what I saw: “The Oy of Joy” (page 29). In this chapter, the author talks about days when it’s tough to find joy in anything—even the things that delighted you before or those things for which you are deeply grateful. **insert The Twilight Zone theme song here!**
She talked of the connection between separation and wholeness, heartbreak and healing. Then, on the following pages (pages 30-32, with a meditation beginning on page 33) she listed several exercises to help you find joy in the midst of discomfort. All of them would be helpful but today two in particular resonated with me: “Broken Bits of Joy” and “Sighing Into Sadness”.
The artist in me appreciated Tzivia Gover’s suggestion of making a point of looking at the broken things—glass on the side of the road and dried up pieces of leaves blowing along the sidewalk (the “Broken Bits of Joy” exercise). Not only did it challenge me to find the “found art” quality of these items, but it felt more authentic. It felt as if I was giving a voice to the not-so-pretty agitation inside of me, which actually did make me feel better. If I had made myself notice pretty flowers or breathtaking landscapes instead, it would have felt like I was lying to myself and forcing down those “icky” feelings, which would have made me even more agitated and unsettled.
As good as this exercise was, the exercise of “Sighing Into Sadness” was profound—a wake-up call. I was shocked at what I’d discovered.
I didn’t do the exercise the way she described it. All I did was sigh, as the title suggests, and then relaxed. I quickly realized I was feeling burdened and overwhelmed without enough time to do anything about it.
I realized I needed to make room in my own life for me—which is a post I did a few weeks ago (I should make it a point to re-read my own posts!) click here to be taken to that post. For me, making room in my life means setting firmer boundaries: Saying “no” more often, making myself a priority in my own life, and scheduling time on my calendar to work on the projects that are important to me—regardless of whether or not they’re important to anyone else.
The “Sighing…” exercise took less than 15 minutes, but it gave me back the rest of my day!
Your homework today is to take a close look at the things that are agitating you and try sighing into them as suggested in the book by Tzivia Gover, Joy in Every Moment: Mindful Exercixes for Waking to the Wonders of Ordinary Life.
Let me know if this helps you, or if you have other exercises that you do. You can comment here in the “Comments” section below, or you can go to my Facebook page and let me know what you think. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/YesICanPepTalks/
I’m eager to hear what you do when you feel irritated and unsettled!
Your Friend and Pep Pal,
4 thoughts on “Sighing Exercise”
You make an excellent point! When I’m in a mood where I’m having trouble finding joy, I also try to put things in perspective – is the issue that’s got me so wound up really that important, or can I just let it go? Sometimes the answer is yes, but most of the time the answer is no – it’s not important, so I work on trying to let it go…probably using deep breaths or sighing 😉 Thanks for the great post!
Thank you for your suggestions, Vanessa.
I agree that there’s something to sighing, deep breathing, and noise making (as Julie suggested in her comment) that is very helpful. Between the oxygenation of our systems and the movement inherent in deep breathing, emotions seem to get dislodged and then moved out of our systems.
Thanks again for sharing your practices and insights with us, Vanessa. I appreciate it!
Your Friend and Pep Pal,
I have found Byron Katie’s method helpful at times like you describe. I write or state what’s bothering me, then ask myself 4 questions.
1. Is it true?
2. How do I react when I think that thought?
3. Who or what would I be without the thought?
4. What’s the turnaround? ( turn the thought into its opposite and see if it contains some insight)
This process usually helps me find what’s really bothering me beneath what I thought was the problem.
Thanks for your reminder about sighing—a great way to release the blahs! Sometimes I let the sighs turn into other sounds and tones for a real cathartic experience.
Thank you, Julie! This sounds like a great exercise and one that I am definitely going to use. I’d forgotten about Byron Katie’s work–thanks for the reminder.
I love your suggestion of letting the sighing turn into other sounds. The thought just occurred to me that adding gentle movement with the sounds might also be cathartic. Thanks for the suggestion!
Thank you, Julie, for so generously sharing your thoughts and suggestions for exercises that have helped you. I appreciate it very much. Thank you!
Your Friend and Pep Pal,