The 3 Most Important Skills for a Healthy, Joyful, and Inspired Life

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, November 07, 2018
By Marly Q. Casanova
From about the age of 4, I suffered from chronic asthma attacks. You never forget something like that. You know what else I never forgot?

  • Waking up in the middle of the night in a panic, wheezing, gasping for air and being rushed to the hospital on a regular basis.
  • How the sound of my nebulizer machine served as my lullaby before bed a gentle mist would tickle my nose until I fell asleep. 
  • Mom rubbing “viparoru” (vicks vapor rub), on my chest every night. Yes, the smell still haunts me till this day! 
  • Feeling ashamed in school, hiding my inhaler and secretly showing it to my PE teacher to ditch running or participating in field day games. 
  • Most of all, I remember that every morning, before opening my eyes, I’d check if I was breathing! If I was able to take a full inhale and exhale, I would smile, put my hands on my chest and feel grateful before getting out of bed.  

Why am I talking about this? Well, as counselors, I thought you’d be interested in my childhood and we should start there! 🙂
Believe it or not, I’m grateful for being given the “burden” of asthma to carry because it made me strongly connected to (and thankful for) my breath.

Little did I know that I was practicing powerful skills I would end up mastering and teaching others. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga, two decades later, that I realized what a profound impact simply breathing, smiling and giving thanks made on how I approached my day, and my life! 
Did you know that you take 16 breaths per minute, on average? That’s over 23,000 breaths per day! How many of those breaths are you actually aware of and grateful for? 
If you’re like most people, your answer is ZERO or close to it. That’s why I jump at any opportunity I have to share my personal story and “Q. Tips” for starting this transformational practice today. . . right now! 
It’s a simple acronym: BSG (my hint to remember is Big Smiling Giant) 🙂
1. Breathe

Connect with your breath first thing in the morning. Before you reach for your phone or your feet hit the floor, take a full inhale nice and slow. Connect with how cool your breath feels as it enters your nostrils, fills your lungs and allow your belly to rise. Notice the slight pause before you naturally start exhaling. Slowly follow your breath from your belly, to your lungs, all the way out of your nose noticing a subtle change in temperature. You can do it! Commit to taking one, or more, conscious breaths in the morning and you will begin to feel how awesome it is to breathe with awareness. Then start practicing when you’re driving, checking emails, waiting in line or for a meeting to start. You’re breathing all day anyway, aren’t you?
2. Smile 🙂

Next, Smile! I’m not talking a big cheesy fake “selfie” smile. In fact, the exact opposite. Breathe in a sense of kindness all over your face and allow the corners of your lips to rise into a gentle smile. Imagine inhaling peace all over your face as you soften your eyes and loosen your jaw and exhale gratitude to every cell in your body. Try it and see how an effortless smile graces your face and helps you greet the day with positive energy! 
3. Give Thanks 

Last, and just as important, Give Thanks! Place your hands on your heart and say to yourself, or out loud, “Thank You”. Give thanks for your breath, your health, warm bed, the roof over your head, if you have a partner, kids, pets or simply for the new day you’ve been given! Even in our darkest days, our breath is always there. For as long as you live you can ALWAYS count on and give thanks for the gift of your breath and I’ve learned. . . that’s more than enough! 

That’s it! I know what you’re thinking. . . that’s too easy. And, you’re right, it is! 
Perhaps you thought I’d give you a new “To-Do” like starting a gratitude journal or a gratitude jar. Don’t get me wrong, these are great strategies that work but what I, and my students, love most about BSG is that it takes NO EXTRA TIME! Zilch! Nada!
Breathing is the ONE thing we are all always doing. So we’ve got no excuse not to BSG morning, noon and night! Right? 
And there you have it my friend! The 3 most important skills you can practice (and master) that will lead to living a more healthy, joyful and inspired life.

Start your BSG practice today and share your experiences with me on Instagram @marlyQ or Facebook/themarlyQ. I can’t wait to connect!