For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth. Sanskrit proverb
Take a big breath in now through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth! Let it go! And another – while you read, and use this breath to become present.
Our breath is our well-being tool! Breathing is the only body process that both happens automatically without our control, and can be controlled by us too!
There is a significant connection between our nervous system, our flight-fight-freeze response and our breathing. Have you ever noticed that when you are in pain, stressed or anxious, your breathing changes, becoming shorter, shallower, and almost a panting breath at times? There is good reason for this – staying under the radar out in the wild – being unseen, unheard, invisible, so that our predators don’t notice us. This same response happens when we are stressed in modern life. The only thing is that our predators are not affected by our breathing, we are! We forget to return to a healthy breath, and can often find ourselves habitually shallow breathers. This deprives our brain and other vital organs of the oxygen they need for healthy function. Also, did you know that 70% of our body’s toxins are released through our breath? It’s time to breathe for well-being!
We can use our breath to shift our body’s hormonal state – our chemical soup if you wish – from a sympathetic (flight-fight-freeze) state to a parasympathetic (rest & digest) state. Breathing mindfully will help us to calm ourselves, and find a healthy steady-state for body, mind and soul! I invite you to experiment with the power of your breath…
Begin with some breath awareness…be aware of how your breath flows in and out of the body…then try some short exercises where you breath in for a count of 4, and out for a count of 4…reflect on how that feels?
You may wish to try the box breath – or square breath, where you breathe in for 4 beats, pause for 4 beats, breathe out for 4 beats and pause for 4 beats…
Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Thich Nhat Hanh
There are so many studies and so much research being done which shows that we can affect our mental and physical state simply by breathing consciously in certain ways, how the healing power of the breath can relieve stress, anxiety and depression, and Post Traumatic Stress. Research shown that 6 good breaths per minute is a good rate for well-be-ing, improving our heart rate variability – a measure of wellbeing! You can work towards a calming breathing cycle which consists of an in breath over 4 counts, and an out breath over 8 counts – or seconds…if you do five of these 12 second cycles you will have breathed 5 times over a minute.
I regularly use the breath, together with mantras, to assist my well-be-ing, for example…
Every breath in is an opportunity to bring in new energy, new life, and an opportunity to begin anew, to re-set…Every breath out is a letting go, a release of anything which no longer serves me, physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually…
As I breathe out, I willingly release the past, and as I breathe in I welcome renewal and a new future…
As I breathe out I surrender the past, and as I breathe in I welcome the future…
The in-out cycle of the breath aligns with the cycle of life, of nature, of the tides and the seasons, so as we breathe consciously, we tune into nature and the healing power of the breath, to inspiration, and our connection to spirit. After all, inspiration has its roots in inspire – or breath in!
Mindful breathing connects us to the present moment, and in doing so, can help relieve anxieties and concerns which may have been distracting us from the present.
Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. Thich Nhat Hanh
We all breathe the same breath, the same air, that has been circulating around the planet for aeons, and being recycled through us and the atmosphere to be refreshed by the plants for our use once more…I close with this quote by C. Joybell which reminds us of this, and that we are never alone.
I am never alone wherever I am. The air itself supplies me with a century of love. When I breathe in, I am breathing in the laughter, tears, victories, passions, thoughts, memories, existence, joys, moments, and the hues of the sunlight on many tones of skin; I am breathing in the same air that was exhaled by many before me. The air that bore them life. And so who can I ever say that I am alone?
Yours in gratitude, Gabrielle
As a part of my own spiritual and personal practice, I chose 52 words to reflect on over the course of a year.