Breathing: The Real Secret To Stress Relief
It has never occurred to most people that something they do
everyday, every night - continuously - can be a source of
powerful stress relief.
I remember when my father's friend was doing an awards presentation.
For entertainment he said he was going to test how observant
we were. He then told us NOT to look at our wrist watches
and asked questions about the color, the type of watch is
was, were the numbers Roman Numerals or regular English numbers
and so on. NO ONE was able to answer all the questions.
Another, better known, story is about Christopher Columbus.
When Columbus arrived in the new world and landed on his rowboat…the
natives could not see his ship out at sea! Their familiarity
with their environment and the ocean in particular was such
that they couldn't perceive the ship. An elder medicine man
who had the flexibility of perception had to describe the
ship to his fellow tribesmen before they could see it.
This same familiarity applies to how we perceive our breathing.
Our breathing is something that we have become so familiar
with that we are almost completely unaware of its effects.
Consider this, our breath bridges our conscious and unconscious
i.e. unconsciously we are always breathing and at any time
we can consciously focus on our breathing.
This is important to remember because all our emotional states
are reflected in our breathing. If we are stressed our breathing
tends to be shallow and focused in our upper lungs.
In fact jerky breathing itself will actually increase anxiety
and stress. While when we are relaxed we tend to breathe fully
into our belly. Practicing belly breathing (diaphragmatic
breathing) can be extremely beneficial.
Simply knowing this can make a big difference like remembering
to breath deeply if you are stressed to feel better. In other
words, you had an unconscious shallow/jerky breathing pattern
when you were stressed and by consciously taking control you
can choose a breathing pattern that is better for your mind
and body (which would be diaphragmatic breathing).
In Yoga, breathing is considered to be so important that before
any task a yogi first prepares his/her breathing. Proper breath
control is considered the key to healthy living. In fact,
learning to do proper diaphragmatic breathing has been shown
to reduce stress and anxiety permanently.
Sit or stand with your back straight, put your hand on your
belly and breath in a slow and deep pattern. Don't try to
overfill the lungs or empty them - just breath softly - expanding
your belly on the inhale and contracting on the exhale. Keep
your attention focused on your breathing. You will find that
your mind will tend to drift. That is normal. Simply return
your attention to your breath when you notice you got distracted.
Allow the relaxation from this breathing pattern to spread
through your body and just enjoy yourself.
Practicing diaphragmatic breathing on a regular basis will
alleviate stress and give you the ability to manage your stress
better. All because of some deep and slow breathing.
Article by Abbas Abedi. Learn how to reduce your
stress in 2 minutes, remove stress with a thought and more
from my free e-course "4 Days to Break Free From Stress".
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