The Power of Breath
You cannot always control what is happening around you, but you can control how you breathe. Breathing consciously helps you to remain calm and focused. So, what does the way you breathe say about what's going on in your life? Find out now...
Hey Happiness Explorer, have you found yourself saying that before and if so, what was going on in your life that meant you felt that way? When something pisses me off, I naturally take a deep, long breath, but it's not always been this way and I'm thankful to Yoga for teaching me how to breath properly.
Talking of Yoga, it's no surprise that Happiness Explorer Coach and Yoga Teacher, Justine Clifford, knows all about the power of your breath - which is the topic of her blog this week.
Often, we hear the question, how are you? But imagine the response if one was to ask, so how are you breathing lately? Quite a different response, right? One to reflect on as you continue to read this blog.
The power of the breath
I just need some space to breathe. How many of you can relate to this statement? When we feel stressed, anxious, nervous or even in danger, breath is the first thing you will become aware of, because something so easy & effortless, suddenly becomes a great challenge.
‘Breath is not just vital for life – it is also the bridge between our body, our mind and our spirit’~Yogi Ashokananda
You cannot always control what is happening around you, but you can control how to or not respond, to those events. Breathing consciously helps you to remain calm and focused no matter what is happening around you. Take the sea for example, if you’ve ever dived or snorkelled. This can be quite dramatic if you’ve experienced a waft of fear and suddenly diverted your attention from breathing to make room for panic, and the rest I’ll leave to your imagination! You hear me, right? For a moment you actually feel like you’re about to die, escorted to heaven by David Hasselhoff in his red pants haha. But take this same example and remember how it felt when you surrendered and just stayed there with your breath, the sound of the inhale softly looping into the exhale, the feeling of effortlessly breathing, effortlessly being… it’s mesmerising. So, what if life could always be like this? It can… that power is within you and how you choose to breathe on a daily basis.
Breath, the bridge to the mind
The breathing process is directly connected to the brain and the central nervous system. It also has some connection with the hypothalamus, the brain centre, which controls our emotional responses. Breathing is one of the most vital processes in the body system. So, through the process of breathing, we can control the rhythm of our brain waves and our entire cognitive experience. Erratic breathing sends erratic impulses to this centre and thus creates disturbed responses. When breathing is rhythmic and controlled, the nervous impulses are steady and rhythmic, the brain functions are regulated and the brain waves become rhythmic, causing more harmony and balance. In many spiritual traditions, including Buddhism & Yoga, it was discovered that by concentrating on the breath, one can still the mind. It was also discovered that one can develop one-pointedness and gain entry into deeper realms of the mind and consciousness.
Meeting your breath for the first time
Fall madly in love with your breath, make a lifelong commitment to be loyal to your breath, and when you enter this relationship and realise its power, I promise you, you’ll never look back. Many people spend an entire lifetime without being conscious of their breath or realising that it is their body and mind’s best friend. Elements of the next excerpt have been inspired by my teacher, Yogi Ashokanada, who created a beautiful book called ‘The Power of Relaxation’. I recommend to all for his wisdom, his humour, his spirit, and because he is just wonderful.
- Comfortably lay down on the floor or mat. Close your eyes and breathe gently, no straining your sinuses, no effort, no force, no engagement of your facial muscles as you inhale and exhale.
- Bring your awareness to your whole body, ignoring what is happening around you, ignoring any outside noises, and ignoring whether someone is looking at you or not.
- Bringing your hands to your lower belly and place them palms facing down, fingers relaxed and slightly spread and as you inhale observe within your mind’s eye as the belly rises, and as you exhale observe within your mind’s eye as the belly falls. As you inhale the belly rises and as you exhale the belly falls.
- Keeping your mouth closed, focus on your inhalation and exhalation and notice your breath as it moves in and out of your nose. Bring your mind’s eye into your nostrils, feeling the touch of your breath on your nostril walls. As you inhale, embrace the sensation of the breath’s cooling touch and freshness. As you exhale, feel your breath’s warm touch inside your nostrils. Breathe comfortably for the length of your inhalation and exhalation perhaps to a slow count of 4 seconds but again without force, allowing the inhale to loop smoothly into the exhale. Travel with your breath from your nostrils to the root of your nose and back. Do not try to replicate the experience of an earlier breath or hold the memory for the next one. Just allow each breath as if it were your first.
- Keep taking full breaths but start to slow down the speed at which you inhale and exhale, letting air into your lungs gradually. Synchronise the speed of your breath with the awareness of your nostrils.
- Start this for 10 mins each day and take it to 20 mins when you feel ready.
If you can build this to an hour each day, the benefits in your mind and in your life could be immense, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. Til breath do us part. Happy Breathing.
Be the change you wish to see in this world. Change starts from within. Sending you all Love & Light.xxx