The Beauty of The Breath

“Just take a deep breath”, is something we say quite often, especially when feelings of anger, worry or stress are rising. Maybe you have experienced the effects of deep breathing yourself. Maybe you have suggested it to someone who feels overwhelmed. For all the knowledge and technology that humanity has today, a proven method to relax ourselves lies in this breath that we freely breathe.

Regular deep breathing is a scientifically validated technique to help reduce symptoms of anxiety. Yoga practitioners take it up a notch and deepen their breath while holding challenging postures. Athletes, swimmers and mountain climbers too train themselves to prepare for environments that put their bodies and minds to the test. While philosophers explore the mystery behind it, spiritualists have developed various breathing techniques to understand the divine.


By deepening our breath consciously, we are also slowing it down. Here are a few events that happen to you when you slow down the rate of your breath:
1. Your nerves are relaxed, subsequently relaxing your muscles, glands and organs.
2. Your heart, lungs, and the muscles attached to the ribs feel more at ease.
3. More space is created internally, improving circulation and invigorating your cells.  
4. Your mind focuses on deepening the breath and gets a break from continuous thoughts.
5. You will feel calm, comfortable and more in touch with yourself.

Depending on how often we practice, these effects last longer. A regular practice could potentially change one’s mindset, behavior, attitude and personality.


This is a practice that you can inculcate into your life, by setting aside 5-15 minutes in your day.

Posture: Sit in any position that lets you keep your trunk straight, with the head and neck aligned with your spine. This lets the muscles attached to your ribs expand efficiently.

Inhalation: Allow the belly and chest to expand when you breathe in. You want air to move in easily. Count mentally up to at least 4.

Exhalation: Allow the belly to contract gently when you breathe out. You want to release as much as deoxygenated air before you can take your next fresh breath. Count mentally up to 6, maybe more if you are comfortable.

It helps to close the eyes and redirect your attention inwards. And then all you got to do is continue to watch your breath – moving in and out, freely.

Deep breathing is a foundation for self-awareness and meditation. And as certified listeners, I’m certain we could all use the benefits of deep breathing.

“You have learnt to breathe
It’s not something you can just forget.
It’s like when you learnt to smile,
What’s learnt, there’s no way to reset.

Little daily experiences challenge
the strength of your mind
But there is no answer
that your breath cannot find.”

- Susan Saju Vaisian

A Movie’s Impact on Mental Wellness


Have you watched this movie? If you haven’t watched it yet and you love animals, I highly recommend it. It is a documentary about a man who was dealing with personal issues including burnout and exhaustion. He decided to do a daily free dive without scuba gear every day for a year off the coast of South Africa. While doing so, he encounters an octopus and surprisingly develops a special friendship with her. The film has so many lessons about nature, the intelligence of sea creatures, and the amazing ‘other world’ within the marine environment. It was especially heart-warming when he shows and explains his account of how the octopus taught him lessons and ultimately helped him find joy, hope, and purpose again in his own life. I didn’t realize until watching the film that an octopus has intelligence that is similar to a dog’s intelligence.

Part of the film reminded me of my own experience with pets and the special trust and bond that develops over time. Only a few months before the Covid pandemic, a friend asked if I would like to have one of her kittens. I wasn’t sure if I could handle being a cat owner because I had never owned a  during my adult lifespan. I do have great memories of my childhood pets, so I agreed thinking it would be a new and fun experience. Then the Covid lockdowns started. I couldn’t have predicted how glad I’d be to have my cat to take care of during that time; without her with me, I would have felt so much more alone and isolated. I love the special bond that has developed with her over these last few years. While watching the movie, I was amazed at how the Octopus and the man seemed to communicate with each other non-verbally, this reminded me of my cat and her cute ways of communicating with me, she has enriched my life so much more than I imagined.

Staying connected to nature and animals is so helpful for our mental well-being. “My Octopus Teacher” has had quite an impact on people in many ways and has won numerous awards, most notably 2021 Oscar for best documentary feature.


References: IMDb My Octopus Teacher

Netflix My Octopus Teacher

Directors/Writers: Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed 


– By Gabrielle P.

Inspiring Movies

Therapy is amazing and life-changing. Being educated about emotional and mental well-being is without a doubt very beneficial to preventing crisis. However, sometimes we just want to crash on our sofa and dive into reading a good book or binge-watch Netflix. Being able to mix both these things is not only possible, but has proven to be beneficial.

Several therapists were asked about movies they recommended or would recommend to their patients. You would be surprised to know that many movies Netflix or Disney+ puts in your recommendation lists are in fact inspirational movies that have a good chance to enhance your mental well-being.

Matthew Welsh, MS & Ph.D., says this is one of his favourite mental health movies. Starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, it documents the friendship between a Los Angeles journalist who befriends a schizophrenic, homeless, Julliard-trained musician. Throughout the film, Downey struggles between being a good friend and trying to “fix” Foxx, ultimately delivering a powerful theme. “Steve is conflicted throughout the movie about whether or not he should try to treat or ‘fix’ Nathaniel’s schizophrenic condition; or if he should accept Nathaniel for who he is and just try to be his friend,” Welsh says. “The resolution of the movie, without spoiling the plot, helped me realize that true friendship means to love and accept others for who they are and also for who they are not even if they have a mental illness that is inhibiting their life. This perspective can open our hearts to allow ourselves the freedom to be who we are and who we are not.”

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., also recommended this critically-acclaimed classic starring Robin Williams and Matt Damon. Damon plays a young man who works as a custodian at Harvard after being violently abused by his father growing up. “He secretly solves an equation on a blackboard in the hall, is eventually discovered by a professor who gets him away from being imprisoned for a fight, and then meets Robin Williams, his dear therapist who helps him find love and meaning in his life.” 

This 1999 drama starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie is based on Susanna Kaysen’s memoir of the same name. It follows a young woman who spends a year and a half at a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt in the 1960s. Jolie won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for this film, but Iris Waichler, MSW, LCSW preferred Ryder’s portrayal of a woman with a borderline personality disorder.

Finally, “The Anonymous People is a documentary that describes the state of the addiction recovery community as it attempts to adapt and evolve traditional 12 step ideology into a modern world.  It highlights several personal recovery stories while taking a new look at how the growing number of recovering people in our world can support each other,” Michael Damioli, LCSW, says.

Hopefully, you did not watch all these movies, or maybe I inspired you to rewatch one of them. If by watching one of these movies, you feel anxious about your mental health, we recommend that you turn to the right resources and seek the appropriate help. Certified Listeners Society is always ready to listen to your concerns. Do not hesitate to reach

-By Kenza El Machkour

My Volunteering Journey

I am Manjot Singh Soos, a volunteer at the Certified Listeners Society. I have been with this organization since January 2022, so my journey is of a short duration of five months. Being of social service background, I was actively looking for volunteer opportunities, and one day I found CLS on Indeed looking for volunteers. Then I learned about CLS, later went on to try their services, and was inspired by it. So, I decided to contribute and that is when my journey with this organization started. I started the registration process and it was especially smooth, the training provided covered every important topic, and was extremely useful when I would be performing my duties as a certified listener. After the training was complete and the documentation was complete, I received my certificate of completion of the CLS training. 

Thus began my journey as a certified listener. It was life-changing in simple terms. I have never looked at life the same way since then. People will come to talk with you, sometimes they would simply be looking for advice, and are clueless about what to do next in life, but we are there for providing emotional support and not giving them advice. There were times when the callers will be straightforward and tell you that they have been through life events, and at other times they will hide painful memories between the lines. The most important thing was to ensure that I set up boundaries and ensure that my mental health was not affected, so taking care of my body by going to the gym, and engaging in recreational activities such as going to the library and reading books or simply learning new things to keep the mind fresh and strong did help me a lot. One thing which I did learn was that there is a stark difference between reading and researching social justice issues, or case studies, and in the practical and real-life when we actually get to talk to people who have been through difficult times. At times I truly wished to help but our responsibility is to provide them with emotional support as certified listeners and not solve their problems. With time and the more callers I talked with, it becomes easier to provide emotional support as well as set boundaries. 

Certified Listeners Society is a volunteer organization that provides services to people who might not have anyone to talk to, who might be in a country or a society where discussing certain issues is a taboo, who need emotional support but do not have the resources to access those services. Each one of us is a critical part of this community that makes it possible. I am grateful to CLS for providing me with this opportunity to help people, and in the process meet such wonderful people who support each other, and take care of each other. 

-By Manjot Singh Soos

Intentional Self-Love

Everyone talks about self-love but what has to be done first to make it intentional? At first, we need to realize importance of it; we are taught how to love everyone else but not ourselves. But need to remember that our foundation of all – is relationship to ourselves first through understanding, acceptance, and protection of our foundation. Once we master that – we can become a warrior of our life – be strong and conquer any challenge that occurs along the way because no matter what happens we know who we are and by accepting it, we secure it by not giving up on it to others – that might have sometimes negative intentions against us.
We need to be intentional- understanding that that you do not need to be approved by others. Intentional- is purposely, fulfilling taking yourself into the account before others. What’s the purpose of this? Purpose is clear and transparent – by living life in the best manner, we are the example for others.

I’m going to discuss and invite you to intentional self-love challenge. What are the factors that occurs as warnings that self-love has to be taken into the place? And what are the signs that there are some errors in your life that needs to be addressed in order to live better. There are four important points that need to be talked around: if you experiencing mental distress and mental breakdown, if you have problems with accepting your feeling as it is, if you hardly can take a minute and imagine a loved one that may experience this feeling and it could make you uncomfortable, how would you react? If you have a problem to look at yourself retrospectively. Remember the ways you treated yourself in the past. Analyze the matters. Challenge yourself with better action plan that brings better results! Think about circumstances back then and now.

Take the time to be honest with yourself. Evaluate your self-love and choose intentionally to live at your best. Start planting a seed of love. And inspire others.

-By Rimante Bernotaite