3 Simple Steps to Breathe Your Way to Calm

March 04, 2017

Breathing for Calm Image

Have you ever watched a baby breathe? Next time you do, see if you can notice their tummy rising up and out with every breath in.

baby breathe image

This is the natural, healthy way to breathe. And this deep belly breathing triggers our "parasympathetic nervous system" which are all the unconscious processes that enable us to heal and restore without us knowing how. This is the part of us that enables our organs to function without us knowing how, it enables our eyes to blink, our blood to flow, our heart to beat, our wounds to heal, without our conscious awareness. This parasympathetic nervous system, therefore, triggers calming and healing sensations and responses in our body and mind - so simply changing our breathing in these simple ways can allow us to feel relaxed, calm, focused and healthy naturally and easily. It's this mode of operation that grows us, restores us and regenerates our cells.  It allows us to think clearly and make healthy, rational decisions. So, training ourselves to breathe again in this simple, healthy way every day, triggers our parasympathetic nervous system and literally change our biological as well as neurological programming and response to life.

The good news: we can all do this...and it's very, very simple!

The problem with our modern world is we are constantly bombarded with stressors such as crowds, traffic or deadlines - and this automatically triggers what we call our "fight-flight response". Fight-flight mode is what our ancestors would adopt when being chased by a lion. Our heart rate increases, our blood pumps faster, we produce adrenalin, we are on high alert - and we breathe into our chest. It's essentially a survival response.

It's impossible to be relaxed for this reason when we breathe into our chest for this reason. And when we operate from that mode on a daily basis, we become increasingly stressed and anxious. 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 anxious, stressed, overwhelmed or burnt out.

brakes accelerator image

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.

parasympathetic nervous system image

Then, when you're ready to literally change your life, follow the 3 simple steps below to Breath Your Way to Calm. The more you practice these steps, the more quickly and naturally you will begin to breathe in a way that enables you to thrive mentally and physically. I'd love to know how you went. So don't hesitate to CONTACT ME with feedback.

Step 1

Breath into belly image

See if you can allow your in-breath to bypass your chest completely, going all the way down to your bellybutton. Imagine "seeing" in your mind's eye, your breath going in and out of your body.

Many people find that lying down when first practising this helps. Also, placing one or two hands on your stomach in order to feel it rise up and out with each in-breath helps you know you're breathing into the right part of your body. 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 you first start practising this - as we are able to focus more with our eyes closed. Envisage your breath filling your body with life from the very core of your being.

The more you notice your breath, and redirect it into your tummy, the quicker you will naturally breathe this way and the more calm and focused you will feel - without thinking, trying or knowing how. You can check your breathing at any time during the day: when you're going to sleep at night, while you're driving, while at work or while watching television. 

Step 2

Practice image

Practice, practice, practice. The more your practice, the more quickly you will retrain your body and mind into operating at a parasympathetic mode level - which restores you, grows you and enables you to thrive. This is the natural way to breathe, it's the way we were born to breathe - and once you get used to it, it's actually easier to breathe this way. For this reason, it doesn't take long for your body and mind long to return to its natural mode of operation.

Step 3

Be patient. 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. With consistent effort, you will naturally start breathing in a way that calms and restores you. But please be patient. In general, it can take up to 3 weeks to shift an ingrained habit, so keep up the practice for a minimum of 3 weeks.

Then 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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