I wanted to share this with you. I could not advocate anything more. Deep breathing is vital to our well-being.
When we are in nature, when we sleep deeply or when we meditate, we breathe deeply and this can enable us to to feel relaxed and calm. When we are relaxed and calm it impacts our entire body. Deep breathing signals our brains that we are no longer stressed and we no longer require the amped up body response of fight or flight.
The more stressed we are in our day-to-day the more it impacts our breathing. It does not take long until we are breathing shallow as a matter of routine. We don’t even realize that we have stopped breathing into our diaphragm as intended and are only pulling air into chests before expelling it quickly. It becomes a cycle. Stress causes us to stop breathing deeply and as we breathe shallow we are reinforcing that we are in stress.
The body’s response to stress is the same as if our life were to be threatened. Remember those times when you thought there was a monster under your bed as a child, or you thought you heard someone in the house as an adult? Remember how you stopped (or almost stopped) breathing? When we live our lives filled with stress our body reacts in the same way. Our body needs oxygen. It is vital to our well being. Stress impacts the central nervous system and causes the hypothalamus in the brain to release cortisone and adrenaline, flooding your body. From there a whole laundry list of body responses occur as the body tries to compensate for the lack of oxygen occurs, many of which, long term, can end up killing you.
Breathing is life. Cessation of breathing is death. It follows that the more deeply we breathe, the more connected to life and health we are. We give our body, our brains, and our spirits what they need to be able to fully function.
Take the time when you are driving, riding the bus, walking to work, sitting in a meeting … to just consider your breathing. Check that you are taking air right down deep into your belly. Practice taking it in slowly, holding it, and slowly releasing. Relax your body as you exhale, releasing all your tensions. Let go of your worries. Just breathe in and out. As we become more mindful of our breathing, even just for a few minutes each day, we begin to see a noticeable difference. Just a simple cycle pattern of breathing can reset our batteries and remind us to relax.
Here is the cycle I use:
Become aware of your breath, breathe normally in and out.
1. Breathe in to the count of 10 – slowly.
2. Hold to the count of 10 – slowly.
3. Release to the count of 10 – slowly.
Repeat 1 -3, 3 times.
Breathe normally for a half dozen breaths.
1. Breathe in to the count of 12 – slowly.
2. Hold to the count of 12 – slowly.
3. Release to the count of 12 – slowly.
Repeat 1 -3, 3 times.
You can up the number of your count as your ability to breathe deeply improves. This alone will help you to relax, refocus your mind and therefore help you to concentrate on the task at hand. The stress and jitteriness that you may feel when you try to meditate or go to sleep often occurs because you are breathing in a very shallow manner. Using the method I have outlined can also help you to relax your body so that you can focus on meditation or it can help you drift off to sleep. It is a wonderful, healthy and simple way for you to take back the control of your “self” that our day-to-day stressful lives continually erode from us.