Friday, July 27, 2012

The Importance Of Breathing

I'm sure you may be wondering why I am writing about this topic in this way.  After all, we know as humans, that if we don't breathe, we don't function.  We all know how important breathing is and if you haven't figured out what breathing is all about by now, you're probably not able to read what I'm writing here. 

However, breathing is very important and not just from a breath in, breath out perspective, but in how we function and how we deal with stress and pain in our life.  Through our breath, we can relieve so much stress, tension, and pain.  Unfortunately, all too often in our lives, we pay very little attention to breathing and our breath.  We function in our day from our brain, instead of our body.  When we function in this way to get our daily tasks completed, we are shutting down the vital part of our body that makes us human.

Have you ever noticed that when you get frightened or startled, you tend to hold your breath?  This is very normal because it is our fear response.  In many ways, it is like we know the tiger is stalking us in the jungle, and if we are very still and hold our breath, the tiger won't see or hear us.  Unfortunately, the tigers of our world tend to be the daily buildup of stress and trauma in our life.  So, while we think we can escape from the tiger, we find out that each day we function in a stress based mode. Essentially, we are still hiding from the tiger.

As a result, our breathing becomes a constant state of fear in our life and we hold our breath.  Okay, we may not be holding our breath as in the way you would see a child do this, but we limit our breathing.  It may be a more shallow or slower rate or one that mimics us hiding from the tiger.  In all reality, it is not something you consciously think about and even if you tried to think about it, you would not realize you were holding your own breath.

Our breath can be so helpful in how we deal with stress because the more we allow our body and our mind to fully breathe, the greater power we have and the more tension, stress, and pain we can release.  When we are under stressful or painful conditions, breathing can help restore oxygen to the brain as well as our cells and tissues.  Breathing in helps bring to our body and mind what we need, while breathing out helps release and remove that which we no longer need.

One way to help yourself breathe is by stopping for a moment and just feeling your breath.  Taking a minute to stop and assess what your breath is like in that moment.  You can do this at your desk, standing in a line, or just about at any time and most people will not even know what you are doing.  To do this, all you have to do is just focus on your breath.  Is it deep or shallow?  Is is fast or slow?  Does it feel easy or difficult?  Is it heavy or light?  Just keep focusing on the qualities of your breath and it will not take too long before you make the connection between your mind and your body through the breath.

Most likely, when you practice this you will find yourself a little more calm and less tense then before, just by focusing on your breathing.  It becomes a moment of pause in your life that helps restore your physical body with that of your mind.  You most likely will find over time that it helps empower and center you in your day, giving you much more to work with, rather than running in a depleted state.  It really isn't much harder than stopping and focusing on your breath.

Breathing is not a magical thing.  It is innate.  It is part of us as biological organisms.  When we go from holding our breath or restricting our breath in fear mode, to allowing ourselves to breathe fully in conscious mode, we will see just how much it shifts our life.  It is such a normal part of our self that we have shut off in this world.  However, the good news is that if we begin to focus on our breath, we can gain so much more for our life.  It just has to begin with us allowing ourselves to understand the importance of breathing and why we hold our breath.

Blog Post And Images (c) 7/22/12 by Don Shetterly

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