The title of this post is not hyperbolic. This is without a doubt the most efficient, effective, reliably relaxing breathing exercise I know of.
It turns me to mush, plain and simple. Every time.
I often refer to this technique as Piko Piko. In Hawaiian, piko means center, or navel.
Finding your center, Piko Piko-style
Start by sitting in a comfortable position, closing your eyes, getting cozy.
After a few natural breaths, just be aware of your navel. Place your mental focus there. It may be helpful to place one of your palms directly over your belly button, to guide your attention.
Hold your attention there as you breathe in, deeply. Hold the breath for a moment.
Shift your inner awareness to the top of your head. Exhale.
Back to your navel, breathe in.
To your right shoulder, breathe out.
Navel, breathe in.
Left shoulder, breathe out.
Center of your chest, out.
Back to your navel, inhale.
Right hip, exhale.
Your navel, as you breathe in.
Your left hip, as you breathe out.
With your attention on your navel once more, breathe in.
Sustaining your attention on your navel, breathe out.
That’s one round. Try a few until it comes naturally.
You’ll most likely want to practice in a quiet, controlled environment while you’re getting used to it. After you’ve got it down, you can do it anywhere. I’ve used Piko Piko on the bus and while I was working. I’ve used it to center myself before dates, job interviews, and public presentations.
A regular round takes just under two minutes, but you can pick up the pace to meet your needs. And as always, feel free to play around with it and make it yours. Once you have this sequence memorized, make up your own sequences. Or randomize it, trying new areas of the body. Do whatever feels most beneficial. Let your instincts and curiosity be your guides.
This exercise works incredibly well for developing body awareness, the benefits of which are outstanding. By training your perception to acutely hone in on specific sections of your body, you’ll be able to release tension from those zones at will.
With practice, you’ll get to the point where all you have to do is think about your neck and shoulders, and it’s like a split-second massage.
Sound awesome? It is.
I know a girl who is always running around, a ball of nerves. Three kids, single mom. Full-time student. Busier than I’d ever want to be. You should see her after a couple rounds of Piko Piko. She turns to jelly.
Like with walking meditation, Piko Piko builds volitional strength. By committing to the breathing sequence and following through, you’re buffing up your capacities to make conscious choices and stick with them.
Sometimes, I visualize light is coming in through my navel with each breath. Sparkly and vibrant. Swirling around in me as I hold the breath in, rushing out during exhalation. This gets my creativity muscle involved in the equation, and fortifies the mind-body connection. Coordinating focus, imagination, and the physical act of breathing into one package, also cultivating concentration and presence.
Build Your Toolbox – Empower Yourself
Piko Piko is a tool, a resource. Once you master it, you’ll have access to a reliable method for releasing stress from your body. For the rest of your life!
What if you also had a tool for relieving anxiety? Another tool for managing cravings? Calming your noisy mind? Energizing yourself physically and mentally, processing emotional pain, seeing beyond and transforming your self-limiting beliefs?
There are tools available for all of these purposes, and many more. You enter a whole new world when you realize that your health and empowerment are in your hands, and no one else’s.
Beautifully, we all share this human experience and what we learn is often applicable to the benefit of others. So please, when you find tools that resonate with you, share them. With your friends. With me. Blog about them. Make videos. Get them out there. Empower others.
They’ll thank you. You’ll thank yourself, too.