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Happiness is just a few breaths away

Sometimes Maggie's quest for the elixir of youth wears the rest of us out. If it's not some new anti-ageing cream laced with essence of cat pee and jojoba beans, then it's an exercise that involves bending over in such a way that she suddenly comes face to face with an orifice that she had previously only seen in a mirror.

Last week was no different. She galloped into the coffee shop like Desert Orchid at the last furlong of the Grand National. Her eyes were out on sticks and she had a pink tinge to her plump cheeks.

"Dare I ask, what it is this time?" I enquired, as she spooned marshmallows into her gob like there was going to be mallow blight.

"Transformational Breathing. It's going to change my life by taking my mind to an ecstatic place," she replied between swallows.

I felt an overwhelming desire to fall asleep but Patsy kept the show on the road by asking how much it cost.

"Zero, zilch," replied Maggie. "This is something that you can do on your own by taking responsibility for your own health."

This all sounded a bit drippy to me but Maggie, who freely admits to being an excellent candidate for brainwashing, was in the mood to expound. Apparently to reach this ecstatic place you must lie back and focus on your lower abdomen which, if you are looking for it, is just below your navel. It helps, apparently, if you believe that there is a balloon in your stomach -- Maggie's words, not mine. Then breathe in twice through your mouth and exhale once very quickly. Do this a couple of times and, according to my friend, the world will be your oyster. We asked for a demo.

Sitting back in her chair, she let her mouth fall open (its usual position, anyway) and then she inhaled great lungfuls of air before briefly expelling it. Her eyes did start to roll in her head and her face looked as if it was about to burst, but none of us was sure if she was in the 'transformed' state or not. Then she suddenly put her hands, palms up, on the table, closed her eyes and started to chant "omm". The ladies at the next table got up and left.

After a minute she came back to earth refreshed and ready for more hot chocolate and marshmallows.

"Where were you?" asked Patsy.

"Nirvana," replied yer wan, without a hint of irony.

"Just eat your marshmallows and shut up," said Josie.

I couldn't have said it better myself.