My master potter instructor at Clayscapes Pottery always reminds us to breathe. In my earlier pottery days those instructions weren’t at the forefront of my mind… I was focusing on making technical progress. Nowadays I am way more grateful for those reminders, and most importantly, for the love and wisdom shared by my instructor in doing so.
As some people know, my pottery is infused with love, from the first touch of the clay to the moment I gift, sell or welcome a pottery piece to my home. During the many moments in between LOVE is spoken, felt, thought, incorporated, through creation, drying, trimming, finishing, bisquing, glazing, firing, etc – and now I find that I can include more and more of the Deep Breath.
Mindful Breathing, Meditation and and Throwing Clay
For several years I found it hard to attain a meditative state, though not for a lack of trying. In fact I over-tried. I over analyzed and over-thought. I’d usually end up frustrated and disappointed in myself. Everyone kept saying, “It’s all in the breath,” or “Focus on the breathing.” So there I was, focusing on the air coming into my lungs, letting it hang out a few seconds, then examining the air being pushed out of my lungs from the alveoli sacks upwards through the tubes, up my thorax to the nasal and head cavity and then either out my nose past my nostrils or out my mouth past my lips which would then shut firmly as I held my breath a few seconds before starting the process again.
Wow – pretty intensive for something that is supposed to relax eh? LOL
And then one day recently someone somewhere said this: “Focus on the cool air coming into the nose, and then focus on the slightly warmer over your upper lip.”
On the first try with this new focus, I found a meditative state!
Nowadays I explore different counting methods, and the following 3 Steps seem to help me get meditative rather efficiently – what used to be 45 minutes can now be as quick as 5 minutes!
3 Deep Breaths
Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth
(Bonus 1: continue a few more times while doing a prayer for protection; Bonus 2: continue a few more times with a focus on a mantra or with healing, loving words, i.e. “Breathe in Love, Breathe out Stress”.)
4 7 8
BREATHE in through the nose to a count of 4
HOLD for a count of 7
BREATH out through the mouth to a count of 8
Repeat 7 or so times and then resume normal breathing
(Dr. Andrew Weil wrote up a similar technique using the 4:7:8 ratio.)
Resume Normal Breathing through the Nose
About this time I do focus on
- Bringing in LOVE with my inhale; and releasing any remaining stress, frustration, worry, anxiety, etc with my exhale
- I do this a few times before simply ALLOWING myself to BE in the state or matter of love both during my inhales and exhales
- Now I experience whatever is for my greatest and highest good – this is a meditative state for me.
I am safe, protected, loved, loving, I am love.
So how does that pair with Pottery? Breathing and loving each creation is a win-win situation, however your style.
I encourage everyone to research and explore different breathing techniques. Find the ones that resonate with you and then share what you’ve learned.
Here’s something neat that I found on betterymindbodysoul.com: