It has been said that if Americans knew how to properly breathe that over 90% of illnesses could be prevented. So much can be controlled with in our bodies if we simply breathe properly.
Many people breathe short shallow breaths that only partially fill the lungs at best. This leaves the body lacking the proper amount of oxygen it needs in order to operate at an optimal state. This creates stagnation within the body where areas are not getting the oxygen rich blood that is needed in order for systems to function at their true potential. This leaves carbon dioxide rich blood pooled in areas of the body which essentially suffocates cells and then creates dysfunction.
The breath should be imagined to be pulled into the body from an area referred to as our lower Dantian. This is an area about two inches below your belly button. A steady inhalation through the nose for a count of 8 or so and then held for just as long and then slowly exhaled through the mouth for twice as long as the inhalation. This practice not only helps calm the central nervous system but it also helps to reset the chemical balances of the brain.
Your breathing patterns are a direct reflection of the chemical reactions occurring in your brain. An example of this would be when we experience fright. When we are frightened we suddenly begin to hold our breath and take short shallow breaths while holding the breath for extended periods of time after the inhale. This is a reflection of what is chemically happening in the brain at this time. Well we can inversely control the chemical reactions happening in the brain if we consciously control our breath.
Imagine a Grandfather clock. The gears of the motor control the rate at which the hands of the clock move. However if you take your finger and spin the hands of the clock you are also controlling the direction and speed of the gears inside the clock. This is exactly how controlling your breath can control the chemistry of the brain. Your brain is the gears of the clock while your breath is the arms of the clock. An example of one of the breathing techniques I often teach patients is the breath for falling asleep. It can become the best friend of someone who is having insomnia issues. I learned this one from an article I found some time ago by Dr. Andrew Weil. First you inhale through the nose for a count of 4 and hold that breath for a count of 7. Then with the tip of your tongue planted in the groove on the roof of your mouth behind your top teeth you exhale through the mouth for a count of 8. Repeat this sequence until you fall asleep. Most people will be sleeping within a minute or two!
Next time you are feeling stressed out and ready to scream obscenities to the world check in with how you are breathing in that moment. I would bet good money that you are holding your breath. Take four or five deep breaths with your eyes closed, inhaling through the nose for eight, holding for eight, and exhaling through the mouth for 16. Before you know it you will feel your shoulders start to drop and a sense of calm begin to enter your body and that stress will begin to wash off your back like water in the shower.
In tough times just remember to breathe!!!