Because breathing is a natural process, its’ enormous power goes untapped. But, this simple act can transform your life. Mastering how to harness the power of intentional breathing changes the way in which you show up in the world. So just, “smile, breathe, and go slowly.”~Thich Nhat Hanh
Have you taken a deep breath today? Inhale. Exhale. Fill your lungs to their capacity and fully empty them. Conscious breathing improves your health and gives clarity. Your breath is an invaluable pause which creates brief moments of stillness to reestablish emotional balance. It detaches you from our thoughts and feelings in order to gain insight before reacting. Purposeful breathing reshapes your thinking and helps you to find a healthier perspective.
Before I understood the power of my breath, obstacles and setbacks felt suffocating. I didn’t realize I had an outlet at my immediate disposal. When I discovered and tapped into the dynamic capacity of my breath, I was no longer easily overwhelmed by unpleasant situations. Alternatively, I learned to maintain composure and could decide how I allowed challenges to affect me.
Instead of being driven by emotions, mindful breathing can be the key to calmness in the midst of life’s storms. Bringing awareness to your breath supports physical, spiritual and emotional wellness. Yes, it is difficult to focus on your breath when faced with real life stress. This is one of the reasons intentional breathing must be a daily practice so that it’s easily accessible when you need it most.
Focusing on your breath can also take the edge off of anxiety and panic attacks. Slower, fuller breaths decrease your heart rate and release tension in the body. Also, they disrupt the rapid shallow breathing that accompanies being anxious and ease the feeling of being out of control.
Using your breath solely for taking in oxygen, neglects its’ incredible healing and restorative powers. There are a host of benefits with each breath you take including stress reduction, deeper relaxation, more joy, increased energy and improved health. Breath work is the superfood for the mind, body and spirit.
How does conscious breathing work? There are several different breathing exercises. One of my favorites is Dr. Andrew Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing technique. It can be done anywhere and at anytime.
•Breathe in through your nose to the count of four (4).
•Hold the breath for a count of seven (7).
•Completely exhale through the mouth to a count of eight (8).
•Repeat the cycle for a total of four (4) times. Practice makes perfect. Make intentional breathing a habit in order for it be effective. Remember, your breath is portable and it’s always available to comfort you.