Dont Forget to Breathe!
When stresses arise, and anxiety comes up, I try to remember Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice, to take “three deep conscious breaths.” The power of pausing and using the breath to reconnect to our body and mind can help us ease our anxieties, keep us grounded and bring us back to the present moment.
The state of our mind and body are intimately related. When our mind is calm and relaxed, our body also becomes relaxed and at ease. When we are worried, stressed or have negative afflictions, it is common that our breathing becomes shallow, fast and tense. The effects of stress are particularly magnified when we become more sedentary in our lifestyle, and when our body lack physical exercise we experience muscle tension, shallow breathing and a spinning mind that has no rest from the whirling thoughts and emotions that feed the stressors.
Breath is the most vital process of the body. As it influences every cell and most importantly Breath and mind are closely linked , influencing and affecting each other.
Most of us do not breathe fully, or with full capacity. Breath tends to be shallow as we often only expand the upper chest, missing out on the depth of the breath that covers the front body, the sides and the back. Stress, past trauma, tensions caused by fast paced lifestyle, often lead to shallow breathing and even unintentionally holding the breath.
Through conscious breath and meditation, one can bring calmness to both the body and mind. The relaxation helps to stabilize the autonomic nervous system and there are many breathing techniques that can help alleviate stress and restore balance.
“Pause, breathe” practice can transform each day of your life. It creates an open channel to the sacred space in which you find yourself. Wherever you are, the vastness, stillness, and magic of the place will dawn upon you, if you let your mind relax and take just few conscious breaths.
Below is a simple breathing technique, that is meant to equalize our breathing and strengthen the respiratory muscles. Take a break from your usual thoughts, pause long enough soyou can reconnect with exactly where you are, with the immediacy of your experience.
While breathing avoid quick, jerky movements. Do not strain your facial muscles or any part of your body, and do not constrict the nose to make a sound.
Make sure to practice slowly, gently and within your capacity. Overdoing, or pushing beyond your capacity can cause further energy imbalance. You can do it at home, or while going for a walk enjoying the beautiful Menorcan landscape, find yourself a nice spot and practice.
Simple Technique: Equal breathing
Find yourself a quiet uncluttered place with fresh air and free from external disturbance.
Take a comfortable seated position. Keep you back and neck in an up straight position, with hands comfortably on your thighs. Close your eyes, bring your attention to the flow of your breath, and allow calmness to come to your mind.
Technique: Start by breathing out completely without force. On your next inhalation with a controlled and rhythmic inhalation from the abdomen up to the chest and it expands and is full.
At the end of inhalation start with a controlled and rhythmic exhalation relaxing the upper muscles of the chest down to the abdomen.
The number of counts for each inhalation and exhalation should be the same. The main objective of this practice is to equalize these two stages of respiration.
Counting: Do 4 slow and controlled counts for inhalation and the same 4 counts for exhalation. Over a period of time, you may increase the counts to 6, 8, then 10.
Repeat 10 rounds of equal breathing without pause, and then relax keeping your eyes closed, observe the flow of your breath and the effect of the breathing on your body and mind.
As you slowly open eyes, take the time to observe how you feel, but also the environment around you.
So go on… Breathe in , breathe out and smile:)