Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lamaze: It’s not just for childbirth anymore

It’s amazing how some days go just as planned, everything falling right into place, but other days throw you for a loop and you feel like tweaking the nose of anyone who looks at you cross-eyed.

On those “I’m gonna tweak somebody’s nose” days, I’m thankful for knowing Lamaze.

Lamaze, which is a French word that means, “Controlling one’s pain through breathing so as not to kill anyone during contractions,” is a technique used by countless soon-to-be mothers in order to keep their husbands alive while having a “natural” childbirth experience.

But Lamaze is not just for birthing anymore.

Let’s say you’re in Wal-Mart on a quick shopping trip. All you need is some charcoal, a couple of steaks, and an oil filter. You gather up your items, head to the shortest line, and get stuck behind a person who bought a can of Low-Fat Marinated Aged Cow Tongue in Barbecue Sauce, which didn’t show up on the cashier’s price list, and for the past 30 minutes some mid-level manager has been running through the store trying to figure out how much a can of the stuff costs, and you can’t jump to the next line, the one that’s moving at the speed of light, because you're trapped in front of 10 other shoppers.

Lamaze comes in handy in this kind of situation.

Breathe in, breathe out. Focus on a distant object. Take a cleansing breath. Breath out through your mouth, in through your nose. Release your anxiety, and look, the contractions are over, and you haven’t killed anybody or had a baby.

According to Wikipedia, the suppository of all modern knowledge, Lamaze is a prepared childbirth technique that was developed in the 1940s by Dr. Fernand Lamaze, a male pediatrician who told his patients to focus on their breathing and they’d feel no pain during childbirth or afterwards when they received their bill.

LAMAZE: My dear, just relax, breathe in, breathe out, and look – no pain.

PATIENT: Dr. Lamaze, I must be doing something wrong, because I feel a LOT of pain, and if you tell me one more time that I don’t, I’m going to rip your tongue out with my fingernails and feed it to my cats.

Then one day someone invented the epidural, and all the women rejoiced. But you can’t go around giving yourself an epidural every time you’re frazzled, so let’s get back to Lamaze.

Suppose you’re at the office. Your boss comes in and asks where you filed those important files he asked you to file yesterday, the files that he needs right this very minute, which are the same files you don’t remember anything about because your boss never asked you to file them because he’s a raving lunatic that can’t even remember your name.

You don’t know why you’re still at this lousy job when you could be making more at Burger King, but you are, and now he’s breathing down your neck, and the thought occurs to you that if you claim self-defense, you might get off scot-free.

This is a very appropriate time for Lamaze.

Focus on something (no, not that sharp letter opener). Take a quick cleansing breath. Breathe out through your mouth, breath in through your nose. Let your nostrils flare a bit for your boss to see. He might think you’re about to blow a gasket and back off. Breathe out, breathe in, slowly, count to 10, and think happy thoughts. Look, you can fly, you can fly, you can fly.

Sorry, wrong story.

Or how about those times you’re stuck in traffic, everything is stop and go, and some idiot bolts out of his lane right into yours, doesn’t even look, causing you to slam on your brakes, dump your expensive Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha into your lap, which elicits a slew of colorful language from your mouth, language that your 6-year-old son, who is sitting in his car seat right behind you, has never heard, but boy is he going to try some of those words at school next Monday.

Lamaze. Think Lamaze. Focus. Breathe. Happy thoughts. Don’t push yet, not even a little bit. Keep your hands inside the car. No obscene gestures. Focus. Focus. Breathe out. Concentrate. That’s better. Your heart is slowing down. Your blood pressure is back to normal. You can release your death grip on the wheel. Much better. Good. Good.

It’s Lamaze, and it’s not just for childbirth anymore. Don’t wait – find a class near you. Today!

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