“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh
I stop, pause and take a slow sacred breath before I focus on what I intend to write. Our breath is the bridge between our body, mind and soul. But often our mind is running a chaotic loop of thought that can deny the body of a restorative healing breath. How often can you recognize that you may be breathing shallowly because of poor posture or tension? Can you remember that fear made you hold your breath too long? Or perhaps you may not often sit quietly with yourself to become aware of your breathing because life seems too busy to stop?
Our breath is the symbolic representation of life and death, but how we use our breath in between these polarities is what truly matters. Deep and correct breathing creates harmony at every level in the body. It’s not just the crucial gas exchange which happens as we breathe; we also are emotionally affected by how well we breath too. Without being aware we be may be spending periods of time which we are breathing too quickly or too shallow and this will have a direct impact on our physical and mental well-being.
Taking the deliberate pause of stopping and aligning with your breath the mind is invited to be present and to pull back from habitual thought patterns. Often we may not know how many fearful or negative thought processes are running on an endless cycle with the volume turned up. No wonder we may be feeling anxious, critical or judgemental to the world and ourselves. Its only by stopping and allowing this life-giving force of our breath that we realise the power and potential of healing that lies within us all. Isn’t that a miracle in its self?
When we take the time to sit quietly and to become aware of our breath we may experience a flooding of thoughts, breathe even quicker and to physically experience the stress of what shallow breathing can bring. But this is normal, it’s not something to be eradicated. Once we drop into the space to recognize the blessings of the breath we can start to let go a little more and to inhale filling our lungs with literally a life-giving force. Taking some cool, deep and slow deliberate breaths is like quenching a thirst. It’s because our bodies natural intelligence is guiding the process and thanking you for taking the time to cooperate with your healing too.
Breathing too quickly known as hyperventilating, places enormous stress on our “fight or flight” system. Whether we may be consciously aware that there is no actual threat to our welfare the mind via the body receives the opposite message. Many people can live their whole life locked into shallow breathing that is constantly gearing up the part of the brain that interprets fear, the amygdala. By taking the time to regularly stop, breathe and be still we can drastically reduce these stressful messages we are giving to our minds. Hopefully you can begin to integrate some relaxing pauses in the day. You can see for yourself the beauty of this simple stopping and breathing. Everyone can make time, if you are that busy that your mind is full of reasons why not then imagine connecting to your breath as vital as any other bodily function. So, I hope that maybe twice a day you can just stop, pause, fill your lungs gently with life. Then just allow your breathing to settle into your own natural rhythm, you may only stay present with your breath for a few minutes which is wonderful. How many things are portable, free and can change how you feel? The other thing that encompasses these traits too is love and I think aligning yourself with some focused breathing is an act of self-love.