Anyone who has lived through a hurricane or typhoon knows first-hand the sense of calm and peace the eye of a storm can bring. It ushers a sense of relief, a temporary reprieve from the turbulent chaos. Deep down, you may know that there is an intense force circling around you, but for that brief period, you can indulge in the opportunity to reset as you prepare for what comes next.
Many times, we may find ourselves amidst difficult “life” storms. It may be the chaotic battle of afternoon traffic, a bombardment of off-putting social media banter, or something more challenging and tumultuous. These storms can leave us feeling as battered and energetically drained as the fiercest cyclone.
You may be surprised to find that the simple act of conscious breathing can help create our own ‘eye’ midst of these storms. It can quickly and effectively help to reduce irritation, fear, worry, and anxiety.
This simple power seems almost supernatural when you think about it. Yet, this ability is as ordinary as it is magical. And, it’s inherent in each of us from the moment we enter the world.
Using deep breath breathing exercises with calculated inhalations and exhalations has helped many people see improvements in mental health and physical health including lower stress and blood pressure levels.
The Art and Science of Conscious Breathing
For most of us, breathing is something we do automatically, without much thought unless we’re having a problem. However, when we breathe more consciously, we can help to reduce the effects of stressful situations and create a sense of peace in difficult moments. For example, the simple act of slowing the breath down, and breathing a little deeper than usual, can help to calm the nervous system and send calming signals to the brain. Let’s take a moment to try this out now:
- Find a comfortable sitting position.
- Close your eyes or lower your gaze.
- Spend a few seconds breathing deeply in and out naturally.
- Begin to breathe in for 4-6 seconds.
- Breath out for 4-6 seconds.
- Take note of any changes in how you feel.
Getting Started with Conscious Breathing
The practice above is a good starting point. However, another key to creating inner calm with the breath is making a regular habit of breath awareness. That means taking time to notice your natural breathing pattern at various times of the day. The more we start to notice our breath and pay attention, the more we learn about ourselves.
For example, we can recognize how we breathe when we’re stressed – if we tend to breathe rapidly or shallowly, if we hold our breath unknowingly, or if we’re prone to breathe more through our mouth than our nose. As you become more aware of how you are breathing, you can eventually practice taking control of those patterns by gradually changing them to create peace and calm.
The Big Sigh: Another Great Practice
Chances are you have sighed unconsciously numerous times a day. However, whenever you’re feeling a little stressed, make an intentional attempt at sighing. Many people find that they immediately feel lighter, a little more focused, and centered with a simple, deliberate sigh. If you find that hard to believe, take a moment to try it now.
- Inhale deeply through the nose
- hold it for a few seconds
- let out a big, long audible sigh through the mouth
How do you feel? Now, try sighing a few more times and notice the difference.
There are so many options for conscious breathing. Are you interested in learning more about using the breath to reach your goals and make healthy life changes? Reach out and contact me.