Breathing is interesting and 100% necessary. It is something that we need to do 24/7 but take it for granted until we have trouble with it. Yes, you can control your breathing consciously, but did you ever think about what keeps us breathing when we are not thinking about it or when we are sleeping? The The Reptilian Brain, or brain stem, is responsible for this and other involuntary functions in our body, but I’ll refer to this as our subconscious. Our subconscious is running 24/7 and is responsible for all involuntary functions and behaviors. A lot of these functions, you can control consciously when you bring your awareness to them, like breathing. Today I want to speak about breathing for you health emotional, mental, and physical health.
You’ve heard many times, “Take a breath” or “slow your breathing”. These are common sense instructions. Often when you are in a stressed or emotional mode, you find yourself breathing too fast or sometimes not breathing. You can control that so it does not get to that extreme point by breathing purposely. What do I mean by that? I mean purposely controlling the rate and amount of breath I inhale and exhale.
Many forms of meditation, yoga, and martial arts have you breathing certain ways. First of all, you want to look at and possibly modify the way you inhale. Most of us in western civilization tend to breathe and fill the chest first with our shoulders lifting. If you breath a ‘belly breath’ however, you will bring the oxygen all the way to the lower parts of your lungs, enabling more of it into the bloodstream. This is much better for you. The easiest way to practice this type of breath is to put your hand on your belly and breathe, watching it rise first before the chest.
Another important point for breathing is a specific breathing pattern I was taught from the authors of a book called Breath Walk. I use this with all of my clients and in most of my workshops and trainings. It is referred to as a 4x8 breath. This is simply breathing in slowly for a count of 4 and breathing out for a count of 8. In other words, your exhale is twice as long as your inhale. Don’t worry about counting exactly to 4. Take a slow deep breath and count. Is it 3, 4, 5, or 6? It does not matter. Just make sure that you exhale is twice as long.
Finally, you may ask,”Do I use my nose or mouth to breathe?”. I inhale through my nose and exhale through my mouth. I am comfortable that way. Use whatever you are comfortable with.
So my suggestion to you is to take some time each day or night to breath these 4x8 belly breaths. Use this when you are starting to feel tense or nervous, or if you are having a hard time to sleep, or almost anytime that you are having difficulty. You will find that breathing purposefully is almost a meditation in itself.
Breathe With Purpose