B – Breathing

Day 3

Take a big breath and count to ten. Take someone's breath away. Even the Big Bad Wolf in The Three Little Pigs got in on the huffing and puffing!

Our culture makes reference to breathing by the use of idioms, as above, and also in the songs we sing - Breathe, The Air That I Breathe, Every Breath You Take and a whole bunch more here, most of which I've not heard. How about you?

If you're feeling like you can't catch your breath, stress may be to blame.

Over time, in response to chronic stress, you may begin to chest breathe. Rapid, shallow breathing is your body's way of preparing for flight or fight. As a result, you've developed a new habit - one that has moved you away from that natural, easy way of breathing.

Here's a quick way to check:

  1. Go stand in front of a mirror.
  2. Place your hand over your heart, in the middle of your chest (think about where you're told to place your hands when you are doing CPR).
  3. Breathe as you would normally.
  4. Do you notice that your hand and/or shoulders are significantly rising and falling with your breathing cycle? This indicates that you are chest breathing. You're using the muscles in your chest, neck and shoulders to breathe. Is it any wonder that you have a sore neck?
  5. If so, it's time to practice breathing in the way you were meant to breathe. There are many different techniques; try out a few and see how you feel.
  6. Here's one for you to try: Every Breath You Take.

Will you let me know what you've discovered?

2 Replies to “B – Breathing”

  1. It is truly amazing the power that lies in our breath. On the one hand, it can illustrate how stressed out we are [and those who have panic attacks are at the extreme end of this continuum] and on the other hand, it can be used to bring us to a place of peace and tranquility.

    As both you and Thích Nhất Hạnh advocate: “Your breathing should flow gracefully, like a river, like a watersnake crossing the water, and not like a chain of rugged mountains or the gallop of a horse. To master our breath is to be in control of our bodies and minds. Each time we find ourselves dispersed and find it difficult to gain control of ourselves by different means, the method of watching the breath should always be used.”

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