The Art of Health-Filled Breathing
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
How often do you stop what you are attending to and in the moment give your total
attention to your breathing?
Do you take your breathing for granted, just ignoring that it is so fundamental to life,
it is an automatic process so doesn’t need your help thank you very much?
But where would you be without it? Not just breathing, but each and every single
breath in, and out.
In 2008 nature conspired to require me to pay closer attention to my breathing; it had always
been close for many years through my meditation practice and during singing lessons.
But suddenly one night, in a hotel in Benidorm, I awoke in panic – I simply could not breathe
through my nostrils and gasps for air did not seem to bring sufficient air into my lungs.
My Spanish doctor told me it was all in my brain! When I returned to the UK a few years later
I was told the same and had it said, “There is nothing wrong with you!” All without examination
I may say!
I became persistent with doctors but it took another four years to be taken seriously. First sleep apnea was diagnosed but sleeping with a mask each night was difficulty. An ENT consultant told me there was nothing wrong! I asked for a second opinion, then an MRI scan and sinus problems were detected. A Dental scan also showed more serious sinus problems. There was indeed a physical problem on one side of the nose. I was on an NHS waiting list for eight months, in part due to "the system" but in part because, as I began to get more and more vociferous about the delays, the NHS referred me to a private hospital in Glasgow only to find that when I got there the consultant there told me he did not do the procedure for which I had been referred. I then went back on the NHS waiting list. Aside to this, the NHS kept insisting they had referred me appropriately but I have found they do not take well to feedback.
So, I have had quite a few years to consider the importance and art of health-filled breathing.
Talking with others, it seems only when we experience difficulties with breathing that our ability to breathe with ease is truly appreciated and just how much we do take it for granted.
Yet breath is what connects us to Universal Life; each time we breathe in and breathe out, we are receiving from and giving to our natural environment. We eliminate up to 70% of our body’s waste through our lungs. Clean air is vital to maintaining the delicate balance of life on our planet. Think desert storms, bush fires, industrial air pollution and you get the message just how difficult life can be when we, including plants and animals, cannot breathe in pure air.
To Breathe Healthily is to Live Healthily
Our breath is connected not just to our physical state, but also to our mental, emotional state and is the very essence of us as a spiritual being.
It is a common belief that we breathe with our lungs alone, but in point of fact, the work of breathing is done by the whole body.
When we run, we get short of breath. With cardiovascular disease, we get short of breath. When we think anxious thoughts, our breathing becomes shallow. Lordy George, sometimes we so anger and panic ourselves we momentarily hold our breaths and stop breathing altogether. Breathing shallowly and high in the chest is linked to many conditions, such as anxiety disorders, asthma and backache. And when we smear our mbodies with high factor sun creams we disempower the body from breathing in Vitamin D.
Slow down, you move too fast; you gotta make the moment last! From the song, Feelin' Groovy!
When we consciously slow our breathe into a steady in / out rhythm, all kinds of changes take place: - we feel calmer, our heart rythm slows, we are kinder to our physical body, and in a more relaxed state the body has a chance to stop fighting for air and return to its processes of coming back into balance, to healing. Our brain gets more oxygen, we think more clearly.
To learn to breathe well is to learn to live healthily and well, for by using something as seemingly simple and powerful as our breath, we can aid the healing of our body, mind, and spirit.
Breathing from the abdomen is essential because the blood in the lowest part of the lungs is rich in oxygen. This diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, triggers the body’s relaxation response. Place your hand flatly over the belly and if you are using your diaphragm well, you will see your hand and stomach rise on the in-breath, and relax back down on the out-breath.
Let’s not get too technical about this; you can always research on-line if really interested. Keep it simple spirit!
Just take about ten minutes for this demonstration video.
If you have problems with your breathing, do have them checked out. But consider also the deeper possible meanings and seek to resolve them, assisted perhaps by affirmations of your own creation:-
How is life? Are you living life to its fullest? Are you openly breathing in the fullness of all life has to offer you?
Or are you afraid of life, fearful of living it to your utmost best? Do you basically feel you do not deserve to be here?
What are you resisting? Especially, are you resisting change?
4 Steps to breathe effectively
This type of breathing helps you to enter and rest in a calm state whilst at the same time, lowering your blood pressure and reducing any nasal congestion.
With practice, it becomes easier and more comfortable, and second nature.
Intuitively place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your tummy. (As a left-handed person I find I naturally put my left hand on my upper chest and right hand rests on my tummy.)
Be aware of your tummy moving slightly in and out with each breath, while your chest remains unmoving. (In my case, my right hand moves gently up and down, my left hand hardly moves at all.)
Now close your mouth. Naturally breathe in and out through your nose. Become aware of the cold air coming into your nose and the slightly warmer, recycled air leaving it on the out breath.
Slowly change the length or depth or strength of each breath. Breathe in so little and gently it feels as if you are hardly breathing at all. Turn the breath around and just as gently, breathe out. The experience will be of almost perfect stillness and quietude.
Do this for some three minutes, or longer as you are able and comfortable.
You are accumulating carbon dioxide in your blood.This signals your brain to breathe.
You may then experience an increase in body temperature and an increase in saliva.
Increase in body temperature is a sign of improve blood circulation.
An increase in saliva means your parasympathetic nerve has been activated – important for reducing stress.