by Setareh Moafi, Ph.D., L.Ac.
I used to think that to get what I want, I have to strive and work tirelessly. Not until I started to practice Yoga regularly in college did I learn that the opposite is true. The more I practiced, the more I relaxed and the more relaxed I felt the more opportunities came to me. The more I focused on self-cultivation and being still, the less effort I had to make in my pursuits.
In order to receive what we want, we have to let go and be fully present. This means that both the body and mind have to be relaxed, clear and calm. I learned this through both my personal practice and through my training with a number of master Yoga instructors, in particular Erich Schiffmann.
Erich emphasized the power of entering the silence and listening for guidance. The one word I heard repeatedly from Erich was “pause.” He encouraged us to listen inward and taught me that the answer to everything comes in the empty spaces between your thoughts, when your mind is quiet.
Mindfulness-based movement practices such as Yoga, Qi Gong or Tai Chi release physical tension to prepare the body to sit quietly so you can experience a quiet, empty mind that allows you to be fully present.
Only when you’re fully present can you tune in to receive guidance that will allow into your life anything and everything you’ve ever wanted.
To get to the place where you can receive, you first have to create space by letting go.
Receiving by Letting Go
According to Chinese Medicine, the Lungs govern the circulation of oxygen and Qi, or energy. The more deeply we breathe, the more freely this Qi can circulate throughout the body.
Deep breathing practices including Pranayama strengthen the Lungs. In addition, practices such as Yoga asana and Qi Gong, which coordinate breath with movement, unbind tension in the body thereby allowing the Lung Qi to circulate more freely.
As I've mentioned in previous articles, the Lungs are the primary organs that help us to let go. (You can read more about this here and here). As we inhale, we draw in fresh energy and oxygen. With our exhale we release toxins, as well as thoughts that no longer serve us.
By allowing us to take a deep breath, the Lungs anchor us into the present moment.
The Lungs have an important relationship with the Kidneys. As the Lungs draw in Qi through the breath, the Kidneys grasp this Qi and use it to consolidate the fundamental energy of the body.
The Lungs also play an important role in harmonizing our emotions through their relationship with the Liver. Whereas the Lungs govern the circulation of Qi, it’s the Liver that ensures the smooth flow of this Qi throughout the body. (Learn more about the Liver/Lung relationship here). Stress of any kind can impede this smooth flow and cause mental agitation and even anger. The simple act of taking a few deep breaths helps open the diaphragm to release stagnation in the Liver meridian and the Liver system as a whole, and thus smoothes the flow of Qi to regulate the emotions.
So, feeling better starts with taking deep breaths.
When you take a deep breath, you become more present. When you're more present, you feel more in alignment. When you're more in alignment, you're able to receive the messages that guide you to what you truly want.
Tools to Fine Tune Your Ability to Receive
Years ago, Erich Schiffmann taught me to wear a stopwatch and set it so that I’d receive a notification on the hour, every hour as a reminder to pause, to breathe and be more present in that moment. I encourage you to try this powerful practice.
As the days go by and you pause every hour—simply by stopping what you’re doing for a moment to take a deep breath—you’ll start to feel a deep sense of calm seep from those moments into nearly every part of your day.
I've attached the video below as a guide for you to practice ujjayi breathing, a simple technique that profoundly calms the mind. You can practice this form of breathing as you pause throughout the day, before bedtime to help you fall asleep, and even integrate it into your exercise regimen.
Ultimately, your mind more than anything blocks your ability to receive what you truly want.
Have you noticed that oftentimes when you grapple with an issue it just seems to get harder? Then the moment you let it go everything seems to fall into place. That’s because once your mind tunes its frequency away from that issue, away from the struggle and negative thinking, it can receive the guidance to handle that situation.
Only when we turn our focus away from the problem can we allow in the solution.
It’s crucial not just to shift the thoughts you think but also to empty the mind, to fully let go, so you can receive messages or inspiration from a higher source.
Inspiration arises only from a receptive, quiet and undistracted mind. It’s not a coincidence that the word inspiration is related to breathing, as it's rooted in the Latin word inspirare, which means 'to breathe upon' and is also related to the word inspire, which means 'to breathe in.'
Sometimes inspiration, or what we may call ‘gut feelings,’ aren’t logical. You may be guided to do something even when your mind may be telling you otherwise.
For example, you go to the grocery store and something tells you to buy extra vegetables. You may ignore this because it logically doesn’t make sense—you’ve picked out enough vegetables for dinner. But this gut feeling always makes sense later. You may go home to find that your daughter has brought her friend over for dinner, and this friend happens to be vegetarian.
As you practice quieting your mind so that you can receive guidance in these small situations, you’ll be more tuned in to receive this guidance for more significant situations, like when to quit the job you hate to pursue your dreams.
The process of quieting your mind to become receptive all begins by taking deeper, fuller breaths. Allow yourself to relax more, do less and just be. Only by being present can you allow in all that you’re meant to receive.
Setareh Moafi, Ph.D., L.Ac. is Co-Owner and Director of A Center for Natural Healing in Santa Clara, California, a health and wellness clinic that specializes in Classical Chinese Medicine and Traditional Japanese Acupuncture. Setareh offers clinical services and transformational workshops that blend the ancient practices of Classical Chinese Medicine and Yoga.