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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Breathing is Free Medicine

“Breathing is free medicine.” This quote is pulled from our Healing Ways article from Sheila Julson, “Mindful Breathwork, Managing Stress and Heart Health,” which stood out profoundly for me as I read it. Julson goes on to share a variety of breathwork exercises that can help balance the nervous system and stimulate the vagus nerve which regulates our heart rate.

Aside from the physical benefits of conscious breathing practices, the personally experienced mental benefits leave me wondering why I don’t do this more often!

Typing those words sent me down a rabbit hole of thought that left me questioning why I don’t do more of what I know is good for me more often. I mean, they’re some of the easiest things to do that can provide immediate relief and ongoing benefits, yet I seemingly flatly refuse to put them into regular practice for long-term good.

I envy the people I know and read about who have conquered their mental blocks and instituted the self-discipline, and frankly, self-love, required to choose their overall good over instant gratification through regular healthy habits.

Two years ago, at this time, I was a month into a personal challenge of completing 75-Hard, a free program with extreme daily guidelines requiring two 45-minute workouts at least three hours apart, drinking a full gallon of water, reading 10 pages, following a healthy diet, taking a progress picture and adhering to no alcohol or cheat meals for 75 consecutive days.

I did it … and then, I didn’t! I lost 37 pounds on that 75-day journey, following the program to the letter and feeling fantastic at the end. The trouble first began on day 76 when I permitted myself to eat sugar again. This was one of two rules I chose for the diet portion; no sugar, and no flour of any kind. Thus began two years of on-again-off-again self-torture which resulted in an overall net loss of around 20 pounds as of this writing and a severe case of regret for falling off the wagon.

While 75-Hard was overall a great experience that proved to me that I could complete the program, it turned out to be an unsustainable path for creating lifelong healthy habits.

Today, I lean into the philosophy of one day at a time; no lofty unsustainable commitments, just being a little easier about this “humaning” thing through one conscious choice at a time. Feeling better about the choices made seems to lead to more of the good ones resulting in a more sustainable path to better health, both physically and mentally.

May you find something within these pages that supports you on your journey and brings a little more joy into your life—you deserve it!


Maisie Raftery, Publisher