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Transcript Interview Episode with Miriam Trahan

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[00:00:00] Miriam: So much of our daily lives are focused out there somewhere. And in western culture especially, I think there is a sense that we're not supposed to focus on ourselves too much. We should be doing things for others. We should be being productive. We should be responding, reacting, you know, busy, busy, busy.

So, when we are quiet and we've done some breath exercises and now we are just breathing, it's a little easier to follow your breath. But we also become who Eckhart totally refers to as, who are you when you are not thinking?

[00:00:42] Laurin: Hello friends, and welcome to Curiously Wise. I'm Laurin Waittig, your host, and today I have Miriam Trahan with me. She lives in the beautiful state of Hawaii. And I am a little bit jealous of that cuz it's such a beautiful place. Let me just give you a quick introduction to her and then we're gonna dive into a fabulous conversation.

She says in her bio, Aloha! Practicing breath work as a gateway to deep nourishing meditation for over 30 years. Miriam offers a gentle, practical perspective on inner explorations, self-care, and expansions of consciousness. All things I love to talk about. So welcome to Curiously Wise, Miriam.

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[00:01:26] Miriam: Aloha! And thank you, Laurin. I so appreciate being welcome to your audience and to this conversation. Looking forward to it.

[00:01:34] Laurin: It's gonna be fun. So, you are a meditation specialist, I would say. Is that accurate?

[00:01:41] Miriam: You could say that. Yes.

[00:01:42] Laurin: You're a breath specialist too.

[00:01:45] Miriam: I'm a breath specialist as well. Breath practice has been my doorway into meditation practice for a number of years. And I started with breath practice in the mid-nineties and studied for about 10 years with a breath master who had learned in India. And it was really life changing for me.

It made meditation accessible which up until that point had not really been happening for me. I had really struggled for a number of years to find any way in just watching my breath or concentrating on an object or even guided meditations as they were available at that time didn't really help me arrive at that meditative state.

So, I have studied breath for many years. It's continued to practice. And then I am now studying with a group called Light Body at It is a meditation practice that's very specialized in explorations of consciousness, which it really appeals to me. So, breath and consciousness and how do you get to meditation? Those are, those are the things I work on.

[00:02:55] Laurin: Yeah, so let, let's back up a little bit and talk about breath, because we all breathe. I had a guest on recently who is really focuses on myofascial kinds of problems for people to help them breathe better, which was fascinating to me and taught me a lot about how I don't breathe very well and so it's something we all take for granted. And yet you've studied it for a long time. So, tell us what you've, what you know, sort of the greatest hits of what you've learned or what, what you think is most important for people to understand about breath.

[00:03:28] Miriam: Well, we do all breathe. And I've found that very few people get to adulthood without some sort of constriction in their breath. Many people breathe very shallow up in the top of their body. Many other people, their entire ribcage is totally frozen, doesn't move at all. Only their belly moves a little bit.

A lot of people tend to breathe too rapidly, and there's a common misconception about breath and breath practice that it means that you're going to be taking really big breaths. Well, it's not really possible to take big breaths if you're already kind of overfilled with old breath, right? So, a lot of what I do is help people exhale.

And now as we've been talking about breath, you may feel that your breath has gone kind of weird and you've sort of suddenly forgotten how to breathe.

[00:04:19] Laurin: I did catch myself just taking a really good deep breath.

[00:04:22] Miriam: Yay. I'm all for that. But it, it's funny how when you first start to think about breathing, because it takes place below the level of our awareness, most of the time when you begin to think about your breath, it can feel a little awkward at first, but that passes very quickly. So don't worry about it.

But your ability to have a breath that matches the circumstances that you are in. So, let's say you are sitting quietly reading, your breath should be pretty long and not very many breaths per minute because you don't have a lot of demand on your physiology. If you're running or dancing or cleaning the house, your breaths should match that activity.

For many of us, that's not really the case. We breathe kind of the same all the time. So, when we're in that quiet activity, we're probably over breathing, we're probably breathing too fast. And then you get up and start doing things. Your breath may not be deep enough, it may not be able to bring in enough oxygen and let go of enough waste material from your body.

Most of the waste that the body expends in the course of a day leaves the body through the breath.

[00:05:31] Laurin: Really?

[00:05:32] Miriam: Really.

[00:05:33] Laurin: Huh. That’s fascinating.

[00:05:34] Miriam: How about that? So, a lot of the things that come through our metabolism, the things the body wants to release, can be released through the breath as well as through the other systems of the body.

So, it's really important. It's also really important to get a good balance of oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. And that's also another thing that generally takes place under our notice. So, as we begin to notice our breath, one of the first things that I teach is kind of how to notice your breath. And how to breathe like a baby.

So, babies breathe in this really gentle fluid or a puppy. You ever see a puppy and their little bellies are just going, they're really, they're like rubber. They're really soft. Well, if we get to be adults, we're not very rubbery anymore for the most part. And all of the places where your ribs attached to your sternum or attached to your spine are made of cartilage. Cartilage is the same thing your ears are made of.

[00:06:38] Laurin: Mm-hmm.

[00:06:39] Miriam: We think of how soft your ears are. That's how soft these attachments could be. But for most of us, they're pretty rigid. They don't move very well. So, a good place to start, breath practice is laying down. You don't need any muscles to hold your body up.

You can just put your hands on your body very gently. And the first thing to do is just notice how you're breathing. Does it seem like it's kind of fast? Are you a little lightheaded now that you've been thinking about your breathing? Can you get your abdomen to open? Do your ribs move at all? So, these are all explorations you can do on your own.

This is not meditation, it's really breath practice, it's breath awareness. So, I encourage people to start with breath awareness.

[00:07:23] Laurin: So, I just wanna add just insert something here for me. Years ago, I took a yoga class. That was wonderful. I was the youngest person in it by a decade, so it allowed me a lot of room to be stiff and I couldn't even touch my toes at the time I was in my fifties. And the teacher taught at workshop style.

So instead of like you had a vinyasa flow or you had a particular, you know, set of movements you had to do, she would focus on one thing for a while and she loved to f