Have you ever watched a baby breathe? Next time you do, see if you can notice how their belly rises with every breath in.
This is the natural, healthy way to breathe. This breathing triggers our "parasympathetic nervous system" to click into action and take over. And that mode of operation is what grows us, restores us and regenerates our cells. It allows us to think clearly and make healthy, rational decisions. Therefore, if we could train ourselves to breathe in this simple, healthy way every day, it would trigger our parasympathetic nervous system and literally change our biological as well as neurological programming and response to life. And the good news is - we can actually do this...and it's very, very simple!
Before we discover how though, we need to address the problem. And that is the fact that as we grow up, especially in Western culture, we are bombarded with abundant unnatural stimuli that propel us into what is called "fight flight mode" - the opposite to our parasympathetic nervous system mode. Our ancestors would adopt this mode when being chased by a lion - pumped up with life-preserving adrenalin, their hearth rate increases, their thoughts rush sporadically all over the place seemingly unable to calmly rationalise, they spin into panic, and their breathing rises up to their chest maintaining their adrenalin-driven mode of being. Each response enables and propels the others, generating a heightened state that is a bit like accelerating a car in first gear - you go fast, but you are thrashing and burning out the engine.
Many of us exist in fight flight mode the majority of the time, without even knowing it. And then we wonder why we feel burnt out.
Notice for a moment where your in-breath is going. Does your chest rise, or does your stomach? As you go about your day, continue to notice where you are breathing in to - without judgement. This way, you will get an idea of what mode you are operating in.
Then, when you're ready to literally change your life, grow and restore your body, and enable yourself to think and react more clearly, follow the 3 simple steps below to Breath Your Way to Calm. The more you practice these steps, the more quickly you will restore your everyday breathing that allows you to thrive mentally and physically. I'd love to know how you went. So don't hesitate to CONTACT ME with feedback.
See if you can breath in through your nose, and allow your in-breath to bypass your chest, going all the way down to your bellybutton. You can breath out through your mouth, or if you're more comfortable you can breath out through your nose as well.
Many people find that lying down when first practicing this helps, as you can place a hand on your stomach and feel it rise with each in-breath. All you need to do is practice this, at your own pace - breathing all the way down to your stomach, imagining your breath going to below your belly button, raising your tummy up. You may choose to close your eyes when first practicing this too, as we are able to focus more with our eyes closed. Envisage your breath filling your entire body with life - life-giving oxygen and air, which is the life force of all life, the trees, the plants, the birds and animals around you. Envisage your body being filled with the life-generating energy of all life, and of the life force of our entire planet.
You can practice this basic step over a day or two, or for as long as you need in order for it to happen naturally. You can practice it while about to go to sleep at night, but also while driving, while at work, while watching television. Try, as much as possible, to practice this level of breathing until you notice yourself automatically doing it.
Once you've mastered Step 1, try breathing in to the count of 4, and out to the count of 6. In other words, allow your out breath to take slightly longer to release than the intake of your breath. If you're comfortable at a 4/6 count, see if you are able to increase it to 5/7, or even 6/8. Remember there is no right or wrong - just increase your count to a level that is the highest you can take it while still allowing your breathing to feel comfortable and unforced.
Practice the counting, in combination with the deep bellybutton breathing a minimum of 5 times a day - for at least one minute each time. For the rest of the day, re-mind yourself to take your breath in past your chest into your belly, which hopefully you're beginning to master by now.
Practice, practice, practice. The more your practice Step 1 and 2, the more quickly your will retrain your body and mind into operating at a parasympathetic mode level - which restores, grow and enables you to thrive. This is the natural way of being and breathing, so it won't take your body and mind long to return to its natural state. Remember though, if you're like most of us you may have got yourself into an unnatural and unhelpful habit of breathing in a way that exhausts and stresses you. Habits in general take 3 weeks to shift, so keep up the practice for a minimum of 3 weeks, and then notice how your breathing has automatically shifted to its natural mode.
Notice how much better you feel - how much more calm you are in general, how much more clearly you think. And acknowledge the power of your mind to generate powerful change in the most simple ways - all you need to know is "how".
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