Gardening in Stilettos
Adult humans normally breathe at the rate of one breath every six to eight seconds and inhale an average of sixteen thousand quarts of air each day. If nothing is done to restrict breathing, it will happen naturally and fully. But people continually inhibit natural breathing in many ways—poor posture, tight or binding clothes, "speed eating," exposure to noxious substances, smoking, lack of exercise, plus habitual patterns of emotional stress. When breathing is obstructed or suppressed, the cells in the body do not receive the full amount of oxygen necessary to carry out their assigned functions. You may feel sleepy or irritable, or develop a headache. One reason that exercise is so valuable is that it forces you to breathe more fully, literally replenishing your dwindling supply of oxygen.

The breath is life. That is why the yogi says that you "half-live" because you "half-breathe."

Try the excerises below that have been recommended to encourage you to start paying attention to your breathing as a form of relaxation, stress reduction, and healing.

Breathe to Relax
Here’s an exercise that only takes a few minutes to complete, and you can do it imperceptibly almost anywhere, at any time.
  1. If you can safely close your eyes, do that first. Otherwise, just stop talking and attend to your breathing.
  2. Inhale, and as you inhale, say to yourself: "I am ..." Exhale, and as you exhale, say to yourself: "...relaxed."
  3. Continue repeating, "I am ...." with each inhalation; "...relaxed" with each exhalation. Let the breathing gradually become a little deeper, a little slower, but don’t force it in any way. Just let it happen. As your mind begins to wander, gently bring it back to an awareness of breath and your statement, "I am...relaxed." Be easy on yourself. Continue doing this for a minute or two, longer if possible. Notice the overall effects of relaxation throughout your body.

    Experience a Full Breath
    Try this next exercise sitting, standing, and lying down. With gentle practice you will find that it becomes a smooth flow. Do it no more than about ten times consecutively unless you find the feeling of lightheadedness pleasurable.
    1. Exhale deeply, contracting the belly.
    2. Inhale slowly, expanding the belly first, then the chest, and finally raising the shoulders, slightly, up toward your ears. Hold this breath for a few comfortable seconds.
    3. Exhale in the reverse pattern, slowly. Release your shoulders, relax your chest, relax your belly.

    Breathing for Healing
    Parents often sense that their child needs to breathe more fully to relieve panic or pain. The same is true for adults. Conscious breathing practices are now routinely taught in childbirth preparation classes. Anxiety intensifies pain, and the normal reaction is to tighten up when breathing. Breathing consciously not only will relieve tension and help quiet any fear, it can also relieve pain. So before you reach for the aspirins, the antacid tablets, or the telephone to call your doctor, do some breathing. Here is a simple healing exercise:
    1. Scan your body mentally, noticing how different areas are feeling.
    2. As you inhale, imagine that you are breathing increased life into areas that feel tired, painful, tight, or "starved" in some way.
    3. As you exhale, imagine that the tiredness, pain, and tightness are leaving with the expelled air.
    4. Repeat for two or three minutes. Enjoy.

Take Action There are many ways you can take action in response to HIV/AIDS:
  • get tested for HIV
  • practice safer methods to prevent HIV
  • decide not to engage in high risk behaviors
  • talk about HIV prevention with family, friends, and colleagues
  • provide support to people living with HIV/AIDS
  • get involved with or host an event for HIV Vaccine Awareness Day in your community

    Follow the link to  learn more about HIV Vaccine Awareness Day
Looking back at the age of 80, Ms. Horne said:
“My identity is very clear to me now. I am a black woman. I’m free. I no longer have to be a ‘credit.’ I don’t have to be a symbol to anybody; I don’t have to be a first to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.”

In Memory of Lena Horne