08 Oct Conscious Breathing can change your Life!
This one step can change your life in ways that are currently impossible to imagine. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about this breathing technique. I have seen so many people turn their lives around by making Conscious Breathing a part of their daily life.
Two Key Systems
First some important background information. You have an Autonomic Nervous System and it controls all the things that happen automatically: blinking your eyes, the electrical heartbeat, digesting food etc.
Within this Autonomic Nervous System, you have 2 electrical circuits: the Sympathetic Nervous System and the Parasympathetic Nervous System.
When you are under stress, your Sympathetic Nervous System is activated: Blood pressure rises, heart rate speeds up, breathing quickens, the large muscle groups contract, the micro muscles (for example in your gut, the condition of which greatly impacts your mental health and your immune system) contract and your mental focus becomes very narrow and intense.
When the Parasympathetic Nervous System is activated: Blood pressure goes down, heart rate and breathing slow down, the large and small muscle groups relax, the mind ‘opens’ and can think clearly and there is a profound sense of being centered, grounded, calm and clear thinking.
From an emotional and psychological standpoint the ideal is to live from the peaceful Parasympathetic Nervous System and only activate the Sympathetic Nervous System when presented with a stressful moment. After the stress passes, you would then return to the Parasympathetic Nervous System. However, in these highly demanding, emotionally stressed out lives we live, most people are living from the Sympathetic Nervous System all the time. In fact, most are jammed in high gear! Day after day, year after year, hanging on for dear life becomes a way of life.
And what happens to an engine that is run at high-speed 24/7 year after year? Burnout! Mentally, emotionally and physically we are simply not designed to be under so much intense pressure all the time.
Here’s the good news! Right now, you have the ability to unplug from the stressed out Sympathetic Nervous System and plug into the peaceful Parasympathetic Nervous System anytime you want. This is done via Conscious Breathing.
Conscious Breathing is slow, deep, PEACEFUL and relaxed belly breathing. There is nothing is forced about it. It should sound and feel like a wave in slow motion.
Before beginning, first make sure that you do not have any breathing or blood pressure issues. If you do, clear this with your doctor first.
Here’s how to do it:
- Do this at a time when you won’t be disturbed. Turn off the electronics.
- This breathing can be done lying down or seated. Make yourself comfortable.
- Close your eyes. Let your shoulders relax.
- First take your attention within and notice what each part of your body is feeling. Feel your mind slowing down and your body relaxing.
- Next, place your hands on your belly. As you slowly inhale, feel your belly rise. This is a slow, gentle inhalation. Feel connected with the surface you’re lying /seated on.
- As you exhale, allow the stress to gently fall away from you, as if a sweater is slipping off your shoulders.
- Don’t try to control your breathing or hold your breath. Simply let the breath go. Your body knows what to do.
- After you’ve completed the number of breaths you want, keep your eyes closed and return to your normal breathing.
- Remain like this for a minute or two, then open your eyes.
- You should feel peaceful, centered and calm.
Important: remember to always check with your healthcare practitioner first before making changes such as Conscious Breathing, to your lifestyle.
Consistency is Key
To receive the maximum benefits from this, the key is Consistency. Most people tell me that it’s not the breathing that’s difficult to do, it’s remembering to do it. Here are some tips:
- Set notifications on your phone to remind you.
- Do it in the shower. This is a great tip for parents of young children who rarely get a free moment to themselves!
- Schedule it in with something else you do consistently: having your morning coffee/journaling, taking vitamins, after working out, before meditating, while you’re in the car waiting for it to warm up before driving.
Given that consistency is key when developing a new behavioural pattern, start with small steps to which you can commit. I recommend that you begin by doing Conscious Breathing 3 times day for 1 set of 5 breaths. This daily practice is a powerful way to recalibrate your nervous system back to a place of Balance. After about 4 weeks, if you are feeling comfortable with it, increase it to 2 sets of 5, 3 times a day and from there on make it a part of your lifestyle. But remember to check with your healthcare parctioner first.
Each time you sit down to do this breathing, be aware that you are pressing the Reset button. In doing so, you’re telling your mind, heart and body to return to its original state of being. Balance.
In a remarkably short period of time you will notice the extraordinary benefits it offers. Science backs this up. When you breathe in this area of your body in this way, you activate the Vagus Nerve, which then activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System.
In general, you will feel more centered, calm, grounded and focused. You will not be as easily triggered, and if you are, you’ll be able to return to a balanced state quickly. You will find it much easier to Pause before reacting. Most important of all, you will feel in control of yourself, how you feel and how you let life affect you.
Activate the body’s inherent wisdom
Sometimes the heart and mind may have difficulty letting go of situation, memory or even a stressful day. Now you can engage the wisdom of your body to help the other aspects of your being achieve Balance.
Conscious Breathing is an incredibly powerful way to de-stress and bring your mind, body and emotions back to a place of balance and inner peace. There are so many reputable sites online that teach relaxation breathing techniques. I really recommend that you take a little time to find one that you connect with, and then make a daily practice of using it.
If you’re interested in learning more, here’s a great post: The Vagal Breathing Technique
One final note: Many parents and children are experiencing high levels of stress due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s a link to stress-reduction breathing techniques for children: 9 Mindfulness and Breathing Techniques for Children
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Disclaimer: The information presented here is for educational purposes only. It should not be a substitute from professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your healthcare professional before making any changes to your lifestyle.
Thanks for taking time to read this post! The right information at the right time is a most powerful catalyst for change. For Coaching, Workshops or an Inspiring Talk on this valuable topic, contact me!
(c) Titans International Inc. Kristina Jansz 2019, 2020-2050