Monday, March 16, 2015

Deep Breathing Is Therapeutic

I learned to breathe. That's a moment decades ago. No, it was not a doctor who examined my lungs' intake of air. It was when I visited a celebrity singer in her meditation house where she taught stress management through deep breathing, among others.

In my breathing exercises with her, she spoke slowly, calmly, and clearly about the healing process of breathing. Being a young man, I was kind of distracted because she's pretty! Still I learned a lot from her, especially about how much I breathed shallowly.

Today, as a therapist and practitioner myself, I realize how conscious, deep breathing has profound therapeutic benefits. It deepens your awareness of a particular moment. It brings you directly in contact with the present. It internally "touches" your heart and other major internal organs, relaxing them. That exercise causes you to expand emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

During stress or moments of trauma, we tend to breathe shallowly so that we scarcely breathe at all. That's deadly!  Learn to practice deep, intentional breathing. Breathe in through your nose. Then, hold the breathe for a few seconds. And then exhale through your mouth. The time it takes to exhale should be about twice what it is to inhale. Some experts suggest a 4:7:8 pattern – 4 to inhale, 7 to hold, and 8 to exhale. Let go of other thoughts while you breathe.

If you learn to make this a habit, it will bring great benefits to your emotions, not just your physical state. Well, you can humor me a bit by trying it! Then you will know for your self.

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