Don't Forget to Breathe!

in Breath

When did you last think about breathing? Was it an hour, a day, a week or months ago? Breath is one of the many physiological functions that we tend to overlook, since it is taken care of automatically. Thank God for that! If we had to think about every breath we take, not many of us would be around....

Unlike other automatic functions over which we have no control (e.g. the heart rate), it is easy to influence the rhythm and aspect of our breathing. Regulation of breath can greatly improve the quality of life.

Slow, full, deep breathing will increase overall energy and strengthen the nervous system as well as the immune system. Most important of all, it allows one to balance emotions and to develop a sense of presence and calmness.

How it works is easy to understand. When we are under stress, or feeling anxious or angry, the breathing becomes short, shallow and often irregular. As a consequence we no longer exhale all the way, and therefore don't release all the carbon monoxide in our lungs. We then can't fully inhale and the overall oxygen intake decreases. This in turn creates a feeling of oppression, a sense that we can't breathe, which can easily become the beginning of an anxiety or panic attack.

Learning simple techniques, like deep abdominal breathing or alternate nostril breathing will not only oxygenate one's body and brain for better health and performance, it can become a precious tool to regulate emotions like anxiety without the help of medication.

You can try it for yourself by following these instructions:

Deep abdominal breathing

1. Exhale all the breath while gently pulling in your abdomen.

2. Inhale while expanding the abdomen. (Pushing the abdomen out as if the incoming air were taking an elevator down into the your tummy...)

3. Gently bring the breath upwards, allowing the rib cage to expand, then continue bringing the breath up, thus expanding the chest.

4. Slowly exhale first from the chest, releasing the rib cage and then the abdomen.

5. Inhale into abdomen, then chest - exhale release chest, then abdomen, repeat....

Deep abdominal breathing reverses the stress reaction by providing more oxygenation to the blood, resulting in greater relaxation, better emotional balance and control, greater mental clarity and acuity, and improved general health. It activates the parasympathetic part of the involuntary nervous system, which allows the system to rest, relax and repair.

Like everything else in life, the quality of breathing will improve with practice and by the very fact that we are paying attention to its characteristics. A regular practice of breathing exercises will not only develop the physical and emotional benefits mentioned earlier. In addition it will foster present moment awareness, which is a key to living life with clarity, intention and balance. When we slow down enough to be in touch with our breathing, we also begin to notice all the beauty that gets lost when we keep frantically racing from one situation to the next.

Breathing and relaxation techniques are an integral part of the MindShifting© program, which is designed for people who want to reconnect with their inner source of beauty, peace and confidence. MindShifting© is an invitation to "living with all the lights on".

Marie-Lou Kuhne Millerick 9/22/06

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Marie-Lou Kuhne Millerick has 1 articles online

Marie-Lou Kuhne Millerick developed SYNERGY Healing and MindShifting as a unique system, born of many years of studying and researching different holistic approaches. But more so, it is the result of a lifelong inquiry into human consciousness.

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Don't Forget to Breathe!

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This article was published on 2010/03/30