When I discuss “Breathe” in my office with people, they accommodate my rant. For the most part they go along with the practice I suggest, and they do feel better –in minutes. But do you think for a second that they actually practice breathing when they go home? Some of them say that they do, and I smile and nod my head, but the proof is in the ability or inability to begin to control the mind.
Some of the funniest sessions I have had are when I tried to teach a teenager with anxiety issues how to breathe. (Those of you who have teenagers can imagine the looks I get). Yet again, if they follow along, in just a matter of minutes they are calmer, more rational, and at ease.
The flip side to this is that people with a lot of fear-based emotions and thoughts are pretty committed to them and this way of life, and they will literally fight for their right to be fearful. Hence, they have short or labored breath and moments without breath, not to mention a whole plethora of other side effects. People just do not believe it is as simple as placing consciousness on the breath – yet it can be.
Consciousness on the breath leads to a calm mind and body, which leads to self study, which leads to self actualization, which leads to healing, which leads to being able to be present in each moment – in the NOW – which leads to mental, emotional, physical and spiritual freedom. That’s all!
“Do an experiment with yourself and pay attention to your breath for a day.”
When you first wake up, after you drink your coffee, when you watch the news, when you walk into your office, when you’re in the car, when you’re eating, talking, watching a movie, etc., check in to see what you are thinking about yourself and the situation you are in. See how your breath will mirror your mind’s negative thoughts. The more fearful your thoughts, the more shallow or nonexistent the breath will be. Watch someone in your life and see how their breath is as their levels of fear flow throughout the day. Or better yet, watch a new born and learn how to breathe with your entire body.
I first learned about the study of the breath, surprisingly, not from yoga, but from Gay Hendricks, PhD. Gay and his wife Katie are the authors of many books as well as worldwide teachers on the topic of mental and emotional well being. They have a DVD called The Breath Box where they teach breathing techniques along with some gentle body movements. Gay swears that if you practice this one technique every day for a year, your life will be entirely different at the end of that year – it is true. When you are mindful of the breath you are expressing love to yourself and saying, I’m worth loving, worth living fully, worth expressing my fullest potential.
What better way to start each day, or better yet, to be in each moment in the fullest expression of YOU! So sit still, practice breathing in and out – nice even and full breaths. An easy one is breathing in through your nose for a 3-6 count and out through your nose or mouth for a 6-9 count – doubling the length of the exhale to the inhale. After the body and mind begin to relax – and they will very shortly – look within and see what thoughts you’ve been having that are based in fear and/or negativity, because they are there, and they are secretly running your life. Research shows that 75% or more of our thoughts are negative, and that’s if we had a fairly decent childhood. So we are all running at a deficit of positive thoughts about self and others. Take the time to change them, and please, don’t believe everything you think!