By: Alan Nahle
What is breathing? Most people know breathing as the basic physiological function of inhaling and exhaling through your nose and mouth to exchange carbon dioxide with oxygen in your body. While nobody is debating the importance of breathing to everyday life, something that is commonly overlooked is how we breathe. What if there were a way to breathe that could promote calmness, reduced stress, and more positive moods? While not as important as the primary function of breathing, which is to keep us alive, the way we breathe can radically influence our day-to-day life such as our motivation levels and how well we get tasks are done throughout the day, as well as how we interact with others. The type of breathing I am referring to specifically is called meditative breathing.
What is meditative breathing and what makes it so different from just breathing any other type of way? Meditative breathing focuses on the pace of the breathing and slowing down the breathing. While I could list numerous research articles and citations that you may or may not look into for validity, how about we try something more practical? Why don’t we try it out right now? It’s really easy, does not take long, and I’ll even do it with you as I type this!
-You can close your eyes or keep them open
-Inhale for about 4 seconds and exhale for about 3 seconds
-Repeat 3-5 times
(If you have asthma or other conditions that may affect your breathing, try to get a feel for your ability to do this exercise comfortably)
What did you notice? Some may have not noticed anything. Some may have already been breathing like this. Some, however, might have noticed some changes in their bodies from slowing down the way they breathe. Some might have found it to be a very relaxing and calming experience. Some may have found it to help them think better and some may have found it to reduce their anger or anxiety. And the best part? You can breathe like this and benefit from it all the time, anywhere you are, for free. You can breathe like this all the time and always have the benefits of it. Many of us lead very busy lives, so if we were able to take something we already do throughout the day and do it in a way that makes us feel better, it should at least be worth exploring. There is an abundant amount of research on this topic that is easily found with a simple internet search, but nothing beats something you can try out yourself on the spot and notice the effects immediately.
To make something like this a habit long-term, it is going to take some effort and mindfulness to keep practicing it throughout the day if this is not something you already do. Habits can be tough to form and stick with, but the benefits that come with sticking to a good habit can be very much worth it in the long run if improving moods and reducing stress are things you feel are important to have in your life. Please remember that messing up in the beginning stages is not a reason to give up on it, but an opportunity to learn and improve. There are very few things that are better to invest in than yourself. You are worth the time and effort. You got this!