How often do you catch yourself holding on to your breath or shallow-breathing?
Me? More often than not.
When was the last time you consciously practiced deep breathing for its own sake (not in yoga, or at the end of your run, or the doctor's office)?
Me? I wasn't able to answer. Once I begin the client needs & life-sustaining tasks portion of my day, I can become a puppet of my thoughts, racing from one urgent task to the next.
I recently discovered my cortisol levels are HIGH. Not a desirable chemistry for my body. (Cortisol is released in our blood system in response to stress & can depress immune system function as well as decrease bone density.) Many of us live in a perpetual state of hormonal stress.
So how does deep breathing factor in here?
Come with me on a tiny diversion. The lost art of entryways.
In homes & buildings created before the modern sensibility of efficiency, we appreciated the value of an entryway: a foyer, a vestibule that allowed us to acclimatize from the exterior temperature, noise, light, tempo to the interior climate & vice versa. To shed or add protective layers. To READY, to TUNE ourselves to our environment. In classic brownstones, we often find 2 sets of doors, one to the outside & and one to the interior, offering us a physical transition helping us recalibrate between worlds. Look at igloos, look at beaver's homes. They each have a transitional tunnel before entering into the main domed living space.
The life-pace that pushes for multi-tasking, constant inputs, demanding from us immediacy in our responses & actions... in that frenzy, we lose what is most important & empowering in making the best decisions & choosing our optimal actions. I regularly find myself not aware of what I have just done because my sense of urgency to complete the incomplete-able list of to-dos takes over. I race & yet the finish line constantly shifts. More notably, I lose myself in the rushing.
Transitions. We need them to be our most powerful. To shift gears from reflective states to executing states.
Coming back to our breath here, literally. DEEP BREATHS, intentional full-body enlivening breathing is a powerful transition we can create in our day to mark the move between:
- sleeping + waking
- fright + calm
- irritation + equanimity
- our life-dream priorities + client priorities
- rushing + returning to mindful tempo
- confusion/misunderstandings + new insights/understandings
Deep breaths are the portals between the worlds we live in throughout our days. They are the transitions that allow us to ready ourselves (both mind + body) for the next energy or state we inhabit, empowering us to be our most confident, open & effective selves.
Deep breathing also has immense health & creativity benefits. Tickling each bronchial cell with our inhales + exhales:
- increases blood oxygenation + releases toxins from lungs & blood
- relaxes our minds, releasing anxiety
- slows brain waves
- expands awareness of the world around us
- releases pain + empowers healing
- increases creativity & receptivity to visualizations, affirmations
Try this 4-7-8 deep breathing exercise as your transition from frantic to centered whenever you need it.
- Close your eyes (if you are in situation where you can) and get loose and comfortable for a few moments, breathing peacefully until you feel more centered in yourself. Begin to notice breathing a little more deeply & see how good it feels.
- Inhale through your nose deeply for a count of 4.
- Hold that breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale fully through your mouth for a count of 8 getting ALL air out of your lungs.
- Repeat 3 times.
I am building deep breathing as my mini-intermission throughout my day. And I can happily report that I don't mindlessly check out as I do my tasks. I bring more awareness to my actions, my body+mind are in more constant dialogue & I don't feel as rushed & harried.
Try the 4-7-8 technique & I'd love to hear how DEEP BREATHING TRANSITIONS shift your experience.
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