The breath is both an involuntary and voluntary mechanism. Most of the time, it is involuntary and we allow ourselves to be at the mercy of our habitual reactions to the world around us. In a stressful situation, the heart rate accelerates, blood is sent away from the organs into the extremities, and the breath becomes rapid and out of control. When we are calm and centered, the breath is much smoother, the heart rate is slower, blood flows to the organs, and our immune, digestive, and respiratory systems function at a more optimal level. Connecting with the breath allows us to take advantage of the fact that the breath is voluntary and ultimately under your control at all times. If you consciously slow and deepen your breath in a difficult situation, you are able to bring both body and mind out of a stressful state and into a healthier and calmer state. Learning and practicing simple breathing exercises like the ones below teach us that we don’t have to freak out when things get a little chaotic..
>Find a comfortable position – sitting, laying down, or standing.
>Close or soften the eyes and breathe through the nose.
>As you inhale, fill the belly and ribs with breath – feeling a sense of expansion.
>As you exhale, feel the belly and ribcage empty – releasing any discomfort as the breath leaves the body.
>As the breath deepens naturally, lengthen your exhale so that is a little bit longer than your inhale.
>Keep the breath easy and natural, with the exhale slightly longer than the inhale.
Breathe in this manner for as long as you need to, feeling a sense of peace and calm wash over the body. It will probably only take a minute or two…
When life gets a little crazy, and you feel yourself start to lose it, tune into the breath – it’s a powerful tool that is always there for you to help you chill out and handle anything that life throws your way.