Fast, constricted, shallow breathing is one of the ways in which stressful events express themselves in how we breathe. They express stress without reversing it.
However, we can learn to turn this process around and use our breathing to change our relationship to the event. As Cyndi Lee, a yoga teacher and author, says, “Rather than allowing our response to an event affect our breathing, we can learn instead to let our breathing change our relationship to the event.”
When we return our awareness to calm breathing, even for a few minutes, we are creating a break in the cycle of reactivity.
We are giving ourselves space to calm down, to clear our minds and to gain some perspective. We are also sending a signal to our body and brain that we that we can handle the situation.
By returning our awareness to calm breathing, we are not ignoring or avoiding the event, but rather we are taking care of ourselves in the midst of what’s going on. We are showing ourselves some kindness and compassion.
We are also opening ourselves to the possibility of responding to the event in a more constructive and creative way, rather than impulsively or defensively.
Try: Do some calm breathing right now for a few minutes or even a minute or even half a minute in the awareness that this is you taking care of yourself. You can do this anytime and anywhere, whenever you feel stressed or overwhelmed by an event.
Notice how your breathing changes your relationship to the event and how you feel afterwards. Breathing is not only essential for survival – it can also be a friend for life.
Slow breathing through your nose while noticing your belly rising and falling will activate the calming part of your nervous system.
Mindful breathing is a key aspect of the overall practice of mindfulness. Bring mindfulness into your life, or revive your mindfulness practice with my Easy Mindfulness online course. Payment is by donation so it is affordable to all. More information
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